Middlesex College offering free Community Journalism Certificate Program beginning in June

Middlesex College is launching a certificate program beginning in June to train students to become active contributors to local news in Middlesex County.

Middlesex College is one of just four community colleges selected by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities and Journalism + Design at the New School to co-develop and launch certificate programs in community journalism across the state.

The noncredit program is free and open to anyone interested in participating (including high school students), thanks to a $40,000 grant from the two organizations. The program will run as a pilot for two years.

The eight-week course will be taught by Middlesex College faculty — history professor Cristobal Espinoza-Wulach and English professor Melissa Edwards — and will teach students how to produce compelling content based on the issues that shape their communities.

Participants will learn essential tools, practices and values involved in producing journalism and their practical application in creating content for different platforms, including social media, print media and more. Moreover, they will learn about the history of Middlesex County and how to engage with local government institutions.

The program is designed to encourage local journalism at the grassroots level.

“Middlesex County is a culturally and politically vibrant community. For that reason, we want to empower local content creators, influencers, YouTubers with tools for reporting on what’s going on to the very people who live and go to work and school in our towns. Transparency, through coverage of local events and government operations, is essential in giving residents voice and building healthier communities,” Espinoza-Wulach said.

The course format will be primarily remote-live Monday and Wednesday evenings but will include a couple of in-person sessions. Students will complete one story and develop skills that will prepare them to continue their education in journalism or pursue related careers in communications, media, education, the nonprofit sector, advertising, business and more.

Participants also will have the opportunity to post content to an online portal on the college’s library site, including articles and other community-related information.

“This is an extremely exciting opportunity. Middlesex County is filled with tiny municipalities with different populations, priorities and multiple stakeholders,” Edwards said. “I am happy to partner with NJCH/J+D to help provide the tools that will allow New Jersey citizens to become better informed about the ins and outs of their communities, which I anticipate will help them make more deliberate decisions and also help them take action.”