Justin Auciello might be the New Jersey shore’s biggest volunteer. When he founded Jersey Shore Hurricane News, created as a Facebook page in August 2011, he couldn’t have foreseen the impact his news service would have in helping people keep abreast of, and report, the ravages of Hurricane Irene, which hit just weeks later and attracted 27,000 users, and Hurricane Sandy, which struck in 2012 and drew a whopping 200,000 viewers. Because of the service that Jersey Shore Hurricane News continues to provide, President Obama recently recognized Auciello EJB’05 with the White House’s Champions of Change citation. Auciello has also received a grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation to turn the Facebook page into a mobile app.
“The internet continues to democratize media,” says Auciello, an urban land consultant who spends much of his volunteer time verifying and posting news that users share with him by phone or laptop. “People are realizing they do have a stake in news reporting and are willing participants in the process.” Auciello, an avid surfer who splits his time between South Seaside Park, New Jersey, and Puerto Rico, was introduced to the internet in 1992 by his father, Dennis Auciello RC’70, NLAW’73. By the late 2000s, Auciello jumped into a new thing called social media, intrigued by the possibilities of citizen journalism whereby anybody with a camera phone and mobile internet connection could help report the news. “Stuff happens all the time that you don’t hear about on the news,” he says. “This is the people reporting what’s happening.”
— Jen Miller