JSHN turns 7 today
Seven years ago today, I was on the phone in a Red Bank parking lot talking to a friend about Hurricane Irene, which had just made landfall in Puerto Rico.
Around the moment when he asked if I thought the storm could impact us at the Jersey Shore, my car began to shake.
I looked down, around, and then forward, seeing the parked cars wobbling back-and-forth.
That initial adrenaline rush of experiencing an earthquake, followed by the chaotic chatter that ensued on social media, and then the pivot to the non-stop focus on Hurricane Irene would turn out to be a metaphor for Jersey Shore Hurricane News (JSHN).
It’s been roller coaster ride of emotions that we’ve all collectively experienced with Irene and Sandy, nor’easters, blizzards, fires, crashes, crimes, and all of the typical daily news and features — and a lots of good news and stuff (pictures and videos!), too!
So yes, I’ve buried the lede here.
JSHN turns seven today.
Hours after leaving Red Bank, returning home to South Seaside Park, and mentally shifting gears back to Hurricane Irene, I decided to create a Facebook page to cover the storm.
But it would be intentionally unlike any others.
From the start, JSHN was created to help democratize media here at the Jersey Shore, meaning a two-way news outlet, with the community having a huge stake in reporting.
It’s something I had been writing about beginning in 2009 and living since my childhood, when I would chase fire trucks on my bike to report back to anyone who would listen.
“News for the people, by the people.”
A pop-up news outlet — no mission other than to provide news and information — with an emphasis on contextualization and always verification, and bringing the community into the reporting process. By using Facebook, JSHN would be able to serve and connect everyone directly where we were all hanging out anyway.
And it worked. JSHN grew quickly, reaching into the hundreds about an hour later.
I recall biking over to Berkeley Seafood’s “Down Under Bar” to have a beer with my two friends who were actively involved with JSHN then, Tim Husar and Dominick Solazzo. Over a pint, I said, “Oh my god, this is growing so quickly. Such a huge responsibility.”
And it was.
The community helped report the Irene experience and provide assistance to those who needed it in the days after the storm. A little more than a year later, the JSHN infrastructure was in place to report on the Sandy experience and again provide non-stop assistance, all thanks to the community contributors.
That responsibility has been with me for seven years now, understanding that JSHN’s huge reach comes with great care.
Leveraging the power of Facebook, the JSHN community continues to make me smile daily, seeing the relationship between an editor and the hundreds of thousands contributors working together flawlessly daily.
It would be impossible without the community support. As a tiny independent news organization, it’s not easy, but it takes a village and we continue to do it together.
That means everything to me and our community engagement editor, Kelly Schott. Thank you.
And to our sponsors (Birchler Realtors and Smart Vent Products, Inc.), thank you for your financial support. It wouldn’t be possible without you.
Quick plug (keep us online!): If you’re interested in sponsoring us and reaching hundreds of thousands of people at the Jersey Shore — something that no other local outlets can do — please email us by clicking here.
Here’s to the next seven years.
Image: Thanks to Susan from Names on the Jersey Shore