“Good artists copy. Great artists steal.”
By Greg Kelly
I’m a news hunter—by training and temperament. I’m always in search of “quality content” on the internet. It’s not easy to find.
I’ve been a huge fan of the Drudge Report website for a long time. It’s been my go-to website for news for over 20 years now. And I’ve even passed the habit down to my children. My son and daughter both tell me they visit a lot for their news.
For a frequent e-reader like me, Drudge is the ultimate news aggregator. While that site is nearly always my kickoff point for digital news searching, it pleases me to no end to learn that I can now get the same treatment when it comes to news about New Jersey. All thanks to the Jersey Report (the URL is really spelled www.jersreport.com). It’s a timely and telling new look at our home territory.
The site, which is unaffiliated with Drudge, was launched in the wake of Gov. Chris Christie’s “Bridge gate” scandal by J.P. Miller, a former NYC hedge fund executive (he the former head of investor relations for Tiger Ratan Capital). Miller, who served as Mitt Romney’s New York finance director for both his GOP presidential runs, also operates the Empire Report (a New York-centric version of Drudge). The dream of his Drudge-like digital domain is “to appeal to everyone.”
New Jersey is a state that often gets slighted when it comes to news coverage. We’re either bunched in with New York City or Philadelphia news. As a state that’s a national leader in intelligence, income, education and ability, we’re entitled to a news source that offers balanced and up-to-date information.
Sadly, too much of NJ’s news gathering and opinion-making organizations are off-the-wall liberal. Centrists like myself frequently feel left out or worse—insulted—when it comes to reading news about the Garden State. And properly covering New Jersey is no small task either. There’s North Jersey. There’s South Jersey, There’s the Jersey Shore. There’s urban Jersey and rural Jersey. Each has its own identity and appeal. Our state with its 9 million person population is both dense and diverse.
With more than 875 million unique visitors every month, the Drudge Report is a monster on the web. Although Drudge has a more conservative editorial bent, the Jersey Report pledges to be neutral.
The editor of the Jersey Report is Jane Randall, a Princeton University graduate and former model—making her smart and stunning. Randall, a devotee of political news and entertainment, says the mission of the Jersey Report is to replicate Drudge’s provocative and informative style for New Jersey in an independent manner. “Our goal is to create one website where New Jersey residents can go and get all their news—to find things that impact them on a national, state and local level,” she explained. “We hope to be thoughtful, convenient, efficient and entertaining.”
Before starting the Jersey Report, Randall worked at National Review Institute, the nonprofit organization of National Review magazine. She also interned for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign and worked for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Recruited to Princeton as a lacrosse goalie, Randall left in 2010 when she was personally selected by Tyra Banks to appear on her show America’s Next Top Model. Following her TV appearance, Randall was signed by IMG Models—the world’s top modeling agency. After a year’s leave to work as a fashion model in New York, Paris, and London, she returned to Princeton to earn her degree in 2013.
The Jersey Report is always current and wide-ranging. It’s updated seven days a week, with Randall often rising before dawn to scan the news and post fresh content and then update the site through the day. The site largely replicates the Drudge model—a minimalist graphic approach, snappy headlines (linked to outside content), and packed with news and information on a wide variety of topics of interest to NJ residents.
To feed the site Randall reviews the state’s major daily newspapers, several local papers, and dozens of NJ-focused websites. She also looks at the Twitter feeds from several NJ-area reporters and columnists and scans NJ news via Google word alerts.
Based on her experience in following news, posting content, and monitoring traffic, Randall says she has “developed a pretty good idea” of what constitutes news of importance to visitors. To date, the top news post had to do with our state’s love of pork roll. “My true welcome to New Jersey,” Randall explained.
By virtue of her being immersed in NJ media, Randall (a Baltimore native) thinks she sees “the special flavor of state residents and the pride that they have for their communities,” she said. “I really lucked out getting this web site covering New Jersey. There’s such a wide variety of news and there’s never a shortage of it.”
As to the site’s traffic to date, Randall explained that management is very happy with the results. “It’s only going up,” she said. “This model has worked with other states and there’s no reason to think it won’t work in New Jersey.”