A bill to strengthen and support local journalism in New Jersey was introduced Thursday, Nick Muscavage reported for MyCentralJersey.com.

If passed, funding from the bill would create a Civic Information Consortium made up of several state universities, including Rutgers University and Montclair State University, as well as nonprofits and media companies.

Here's how it would work:

The Civic Information Consortium bill, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, a Democrat, would allocate $20 million from the sale of New Jersey's public television licenses — which netted the state $332 million — into a fund through state universities supporting journalistic initiatives and programs.

The goal is to have $20 million allocated toward the fund every year for five years.

Like other states, local news organizations in New Jersey have shrunk significantly over the years both in newsroom size and circulation.

If the bill passes later this month, proposed projects by the advocacy group Free Press Action Fund include a New Jersey Right To Know institute, a public media literacy campaign and an "AmeriCorps for journalists" that would "create fellowships for a diverse group of young journalists who would commit for at least two years to covering local news in areas now underserved by media, working in concert with and getting training from established news organizations."