New Jersey Press Association
celebrated its 140th anniversary in 1997. It was founded in
February 25, 1857, when 28 editors from 26 NJ newspapers formed an
organization for the "brethren
of the press of New Jersey"
to advance the interests of newspapers and to increase the
benefits of newspaper readership.
are still at work to safeguard the right of New Jersey newspapers
to print what the public needs to know, and to charge enough to
stay in business.
than a month after its organization, the association scored
a victory in the Legislature,
pushing through a bill permitting a higher rate for legal
advertising. The struggle for equitable legal rates is still
need for more intensive study of the problems of the press led to
the first New Jersey Newspaper Institute, held in affiliation with
Rutgers University in 1922. These ties also led
to the establishment of journalism
instruction at Rutgers in 1925.
first libel law was enacted in 1928 after 21 years of struggle.
first shield law in the U.S., giving a reporter
immunity from arrest,
went on the books in 1933. The law was first proposed by the NJPA
in 1930 and became the model
for other states.
1934, two more important NJPA-sponsored measures became law, one
requiring all actions for libel
against a newspaper
to be filed within one year after publication (instead of two
years) and the second making it a misdemeanor
for anyone to interfere with or assault reporters or photographers.
first executive secretary was named
and also directed the Rutgers Journalism Department. A central
office was opened at Rutgers and a monthly publication started in
November 1935. Clinics and roundtable discussions were held for
all departments. An Advertising Division was also established.
1940, the positions of executive secretary and journalism director
were separated and the Competitive
News Photo Contest
was added to the Institute. The name of the newspaper contest was
changed to the "NJPA
Better Newspaper Contest."
1988 saw the first writing contests sponsored by the NJPA for
college and high school newspapers. In 1989, the first circulation
promotion contest was added.
War II saw every eligible daily
in the state as an NJPA member.
Carrier boys sold war stamps and the association's newspaper
missed the December 1944 issue "because of a paper
shortage." The 1945 annual meeting was cancelled by the board
of directors at the request of the War Mobilization Director. In
1946, having accepted a form of subsidy from Rutgers University
for 11 years, the association severed its academic ties. The
executive secretary and his office assistant became full-time
employees of the association. The only connection with the
university that continued was the use of office space.
first of the press seminars sponsored jointly by Rutgers and NJPA
was held in 1952 and the Associate Membership Division began in
1953. Legislation during the early 1950s included legal
advertising rates and publication of special matters. A court
municipalities from imposing license fees
the association geared for its centennial, a new
legal rate bill
supported by the NJPA
was signed into law.
The legislation ended the distinctions based on the class of city
or county in which the newspaper was located and set the rate
solely on the basis of circulation.
early 1960s saw what began as a $100 scholarship to a Rutgers
journalism student develop into the NJPA
Scholarship Fund, Inc.
From 1977 through 1991, more than $400,000 was raised for the New
Jersey Press Foundation from an annual pre-season football game
between the New York Giants and other National Football League
teams to provide in-service
to journalists, students and college professors, and to fund
including the Rutgers University Journalism Resources Institute
and the Newspaper in Education Program. In March, 1999, Thomas
former executive director of the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund, Inc.,
was appointed to the part-time position of director of the
1978, the association moved its offices from Rutgers University to
heart of the historic State House district.
NJPA purchased a 100-year-old building, 206 West State Street,
Trenton, a short walk from the State Capitol, where it remained
for 17 years. In December, 1995, NJPA moved its headquarters out
of downtown Trenton to Mountainview
close to Interstate 95 in West Trenton. Unlimited parking and a
spacious conference room then gave the Association the ability to
host seminars and other meetings.
and Court Victories
victory over lowering the age of news carriers was narrowly won
as legislation changing the age of carriers from 12 to 11 years of
age was signed into law. NJPA
victories were also won in the courts
in the spring of 1982.
primary focus of the NJPA during 1983 and the first few months of
1984 was the battle for access to court hearings, court and police
records and public meetings.
April 1983, as a result of NJPA arguments, the New Jersey Supreme
Court ruled that pre-trial hearings in cases that may result in
the death penalty should
be open to both the press and the public.
The association was also successful
in amending the legislation
(A-1851) prescribing New Jersey's method of execution to include
guarantees of media access to death-row inmates, as well as to the
advances in 1983 also included passage
of Senate Bill
S-1044 authorizing the state's newspapers to raise their rates for
all official paid advertising. Passage of the bill was the
culmination of a three-year effort by NJPA to increase the rates
for public notice advertising.
to complaints from journalists across the state that they were
denied access to even the most routine police information, the
NJPA and state prosecutors collaborated in 1984 and early 1985 on
an executive order directing law enforcement officials to release
police news. Governor Thomas Kean signed the order in November
1985. The order provides more
access to police news
and an immediate appeal process for the press. The appeals process
places the burden on county prosecutors to give
justification for denial of information
to the press and the public.
Trial and Free Press
March 1985, the state Supreme Court approved
a statement of fair trial and free press issues,
including new guidelines covering release of information by law
enforcement agencies. The new statement endorses ongoing dialogue
between the media and the court and sensitivity in protecting
defendants' rights to a speedy, public and fair trial.
The statement replaces the 1972 "Principles and Guidelines
for Reporting Criminal Procedures," which was outdated by
recent constitutional decisions. The statement was developed by
the NJPA's Court Press Relations Committee and the Supreme Court's
Committee on Relations with the Media.
concerns also included regulations and fees imposed on the
installation and placement of vending boxes. NJPA has objected to
payment of any fee because honor boxes have been found to have
full constitutional protection under the First Amendment
provisions of speech and the press.
fought the NJDOT in the Supreme Court over restrictive regulations
limiting placement of newsracks in state highway rights of way.
The case was settled in 1989.
1987, the Association scored a victory in the New Jersey Supreme
Court. With NJPA entering the Mayo Sisler vs. The Courier-News,
Bridgewater, libel case at the Supreme Court level, the court created
a new public figure category
that offers the press important protection. The court also
overturned the $1.05 million libel judgment against the newspaper.
In a second state Supreme Court decision, the court upheld
the right of newspapers to evaluate products
in a case involving Sentinel Publishing Co.
state auto advertising regulations also went into effect in 1987.
The Division of Consumer Affairs revised the automobile
regulations of 1987 in an effort to
accommodate and protect both the consumer and the automobile
and new auto regulations went into effect on May 15, 1989.
December 1989, responding to bills pending in the legislature that
would mandate the use of recycled newsprint in New Jersey, NJPA
adopted a newsprint recycling policy statement,
passed a Board resolution and formed a Newsprint Recycling Task
Force to encourage newspapers to use recycled newsprint as much as
possible and to demonstrate commitment
to recycling newspapers.
Battles Fought and Won
1990, NJPA retained a firm of professional lobbyists for the first
time in the association's history.
December, 1991, NJPA's Access to Public Records (Title 47) bill
was released from committee after four years of drafting and
negotiation by Association counsel, editors, publishers and
others. The bill would provide a
universal procedure for processing requests for public information,
and place the responsibility for determining what is and what is
not a public record on the agency that maintains the records.
Owing to opposition from various groups, the bill did not get to
the floor of either house. In 1996, the bill was released from the
Senate Judiciary Committee and promptly moved into the Senate
Association's Legal Rate Bill, A-1195, calling for a ten percent
per annum increase over the next three years in the rates
chargeable for public notices, was defeated in the Senate during
the last session of 1993.
the end of 1991, the Association unsuccessfully opposed a
legislative move by New Jersey Bell to become deregulated and to
replace its statewide copper wire network with fiber optic cable
at consumer expense.
move was part of a nationwide strategy to prepare for the entry of
the Bell Regional Operating Companies into the business of
providing electronic information services. In March, 1993, a Bell/NJPA
agreement was reached
mandating that any NJ Bell information services be run by a
corporate subsidiary with separate management, staff, marketing,
facilities and accounts.
Jersey Bell would have to do business with that affiliate and any
competing electronic publishers including NJPA member newspapers
on the same terms. In effect, NJPA
had succeeded in leveling the playing field.
several negative votes in previous years, NJPA's membership voted
in the fall of 1993 to admit
free distribution newspapers
to the association, and to provide a special category of
membership for college newspapers.