Farewell, New Jersey Network

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The New Jersey Network signed off for one last time at midnight Friday (July 1), several years after the state announced it would no longer fund the pubcaster.

The Star-Ledger reported its final moments: “The broadcast cut to a small room of empty cubicles. The lights turned off, and a small, blue NJN sign glowed on the back wall. The screen faded to black. ‘New Jersey Network. April 5, 1971 – June 30, 2011.’ ” The paper includes a video link to that last segment, a five-minute overview of NJN’s history.

Also as of Friday, 130 staffers are out of work. The station is now NJTV, run by a nonprofit subsidiary of WNET/Thirteen in New York City.

The NJN news team was placed into the sad situation of calmly, professionally covering its own demise. “We thought about reaching out into people’s living rooms and asking, ‘Please help us,’” Michael Aron, 65, a veteran political correspondent and 29-year employee told the paper. “In some subtle ways, we did. We reminded people how long we’ve been on the air, and that we would soon be gone. But that was about as far as we were willing to go.”

About a week ago, crews working in the trucks once parked outside the Statehouse turned the magnetic NJN signs upside down. And for the first time in 20 years, the station did not to air the Senate and Assembly budget vote live.

The cameramen could not bear to watch anymore, Aron said.

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