New Jersey Hills signs letter of intent to convert to nonprofit status

Feb 25, 2021

Liz Parker and Steve Parker, co-owners of the New Jersey Hills Media Group, the largest remaining independent weekly newspaper group in the state, welcomed the opportunity to transition their papers to nonprofit ownership.

In an effort to preserve and expand community journalism, the Corporation for New Jersey Local Media (CNJLM) announced on Jan. 28 that a letter of intent has been signed with the New Jersey Hills Media Group to work together on converting the group’s 14 weekly newspapers in Morris, Somerset, Essex and Hunterdon counties to nonprofit ownership.

“These weekly newspapers have always enjoyed the benefit of public-minded owners who live in the community. Four of the papers that have been published for more than 100 years,” CNJLM Executive Director Amanda Richardson said, “this conversion will ensure that they remain community-owned as they continue to provide quality community journalism, expand their coverage, serve as watchdogs on local government and keep readers abreast of the news they need.”

Liz Parker and Steve Parker, co-owners of the New Jersey Hills Media Group, the largest remaining independent weekly newspaper group in the state, welcomed the opportunity to transition their papers to nonprofit ownership.

“Our family has served as stewards of these newspapers for 66 years, and we are pleased that a nonprofit group based in our communities has come forward to ensure that they will continue their mission of community journalism far into the future,” Steve Parker, New Jersey Hills Media Group co-publisher and business manager, said.

Liz Parker, co-publisher and executive editor, added: “As we contemplated the future, we weighed several offers, but teaming up with a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and expanding the local news coverage we provide — in print, on the web and on social media — was always our first choice.”

Richardson and CNJLM Founding Chair Nic Platt announced that they would immediately launch a community fund-raising drive with a $500,000 goal on CNJLM’s website at to generate revenue.

“Nonprofit newspapers as large as the Philadelphia Inquirer and as small as Montclair Local have demonstrated the benefits of a nonprofit model that supplements traditional newspaper advertising and subscription revenue with grants, events and charitable contributions to fund robust local journalism that enhances civic engagement and builds stronger communities,” Platt said.

“We invite the citizens and businesses in our communities to demonstrate the importance of local news in their lives by supporting this worthy endeavor,” Richardson said. “The New Jersey Hills Media Group, which covers 52 municipalities, will be the largest weekly newspaper organization owned by a nonprofit in New Jersey and possibly the nation, and we believe it will serve as a model for owners of quality newspaper groups across the nation that are looking for new ways to preserve the legacy of community journalism to which they dedicated their careers.”

Liz and Steve Parker, who took over the papers from their parents more than 25 years ago, will remain with the papers, as will their veteran staff of editors and reporters, some of whom have worked at the company and have covered their communities for more than 40 years.

“Our editors, reporters and other key staff have dedicated their careers to these papers, and we are pleased that we are able to transition to a nonprofit group that values their journalistic talent, expertise, institutional knowledge of their communities and their loyalty as much as we do,” Liz Parker said.

“Our editors and reporters publish weekly in print, but they cover the news 24/7 online on Facebook, Twitter and email blasts. Moving to a nonprofit model will generate additional resources to expand coverage.”

Steve Parker added: “While the corporate structure will be changing, our staff will not. Many of our marketing and customer service colleagues have been with us for years, and all of them bring to our newspapers and websites a unique institutional knowledge of the area, an understanding of their clients’ needs and a long-standing commitment to subscriber service.”

CNJLM is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization founded last February by Platt, a Harding Township Republican Committee member, and Richardson, the Harding Township Democratic chair, a “team of rivals” who ran against each other for Township Committee in November 2019 in a race marked by its civility.

Advisory Board members include Linda Stamato, director emerita of the Center for Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, Rutgers University; Fruqan Mouzon, chair of the Cannabis Regulatory Practice Group at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, who served as CNJLM’s counsel in negotiating the agreement; Senate Republican Budget Officer Steve Oroho, R-Sussex/Morris/Warren; Dr. Lisa Bhimani, Morris County Democratic vice chair; John Mooney, Founding CEO of New Jersey Spotlight; Marc Pfeiffer, assistant director of Rutgers University’s Bloustein Local Government Services Center; and Stefanie Murray, director of the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University.

A separate New Jersey Hills Media Group Community Advisory Board will be set up this spring. The advisory board, made up of residents from each of the 14 weekly newspapers, will serve to enhance community engagement by providing guidance, ideas and feedback.

CNJLM is a registered New Jersey nonprofit corporation operating under the aegis of the non-profit Community Foundation of New Jersey.

“We are pleased to facilitate this important effort not only to preserve community newspapers, but also to expand their capacity to enhance civic engagement and participation. We are particularly pleased that CNJLM’s first major non-profit news initiative focuses on hometown newspapers in our region,” said Jordan Glatt, director of Strategic Partnerships for the Morristown-based Community Foundation of New Jersey.

CNJLM launched its Community Engagement Series of webinars in June with a panel on “The Future of Community Journalism” followed by sessions of “The Future of NJ Transit Commuter Rail,” “The New Jersey State Budget: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” “The Afternoon After: Election 2020” and “Looking Back & Looking Forward: Reflections of 2020 and Hope for 2021.” The Zoom webinars, which featured legislators, academics, advocates and journalists, were carried live on the New Jersey Hills Media Group’s Facebook Live page. The monthly webinars will be offered free to news organizations across the state.
James McDonald of Grimes-McGovern and Associates is representing the seller on the transaction.

For more information about CNJLM, go to Those wishing to support the fundraising effort that launched recently can visit