There’s now an eighth strand in the NJEA’s close relationship with NJ Spotlight. As detailed in Sunlight’s blog “What Has Happened to NJ Spotlight?,” NJ Spotlight appears to be employing a double-standard when it comes to publishing op-eds from NJEA allies and NJEA critics. So Sunlight did some research and found:
1) The NJEA is listed as a funder of NJ Spotlight on its website.
2) From 2009 to 2017, the NJEA donated $175,000 to NJ Spotlight and its parent companies WNET and Public Media NJ (which operate NJTV). NJ Spotlight was acquired by WNET in 2019 and merged with NJTV News in 2020.
3) For 25 years, the NJEA has broadcast a weekly TV show on NJTV (and its predecessor, New Jersey Network) entitled “Classroom Closeup NJ.” From 2003 to 2019, the NJEA spent over $10 million producing Classroom Closeup NJ, and surely some – and perhaps a great deal – of this money went to NJTV.
4) The NJEA has been a daily advertiser on NJ Spotlight’s website.
5) The NJEA has sponsored NJ Spotlight conferences.
6) NJEA Vice President Sean Spiller is on the Community Advisory Board of NJTV.
7) The NJEA is a major funder of New Jersey Policy Perspective and Mark Weber (aka Jersey Jazzman) is a NJEA member.
Thanks to a year-end letter from NJ Spotlight’s parent WNET, we learned that WNET partnered with “the New Jersey Education Association to create original instructional programming that we broadcast over the air and streamed online.”
Sunlight makes no judgment about the substance of the programming. Sunlight only seeks to highlight the substantial, longstanding ties between the NJEA and NJ Spotlight (and its affiliates), as well as the financial support provided by the NJEA.
Perhaps it comes down to a business decision for NJ Spotlight, and it is a fact that Sunlight does not have the NJEA’s deep pockets stuffed with millions of taxpayer dollars. But given the incontrovertible facts about the close relationship between the NJEA and NJ Spotlight, we would ask NJ Spotlight if this has anything to do with its double-standard for op-eds.