The Loved and Lost project is a statewide media collaborative that launched in June to name and celebrate the lives of very resident in New Jersey lost to COVID-19. It's being coordinated by the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University and was originally a project of NorthJersey.com.
Betsy Abraham, The Project manager at Loved and Lost, and Stefanie Murray, the Director for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University, joined WBGO News Director Doug Doyle to talk about the wall of names and stories. The coronavirus pandemic has killed nearly 16-thousand people in New Jersey.
Betsy Abraham, says they now verified 700 COVID-19 victims in New Jeresey and added them to the wall of names on LovedandLostNJ.com. Abraham, who has received awards for her work on obituaries, says she's fascinated with this kind of work. She's proud to be involved with "Loved and Lost".
"It's a very unique opportunity. A lot of times when I tell people that I kind of focused on obituaries, the reaction is "whoa, that sounds sad!" But I think of it as a positive way to highlight people who are often not in the news. It's an honor honestly to be able to highlight these individuals who had such an impact. Everyone has a story to tell."
The project's core media partner, The Record/NorthJersey.com has produced more than 100 profiles of COVID-19 victims in the state. In total, the project has tracked more than 150 profiles produced by NorthJersey.com and the other media partners.
Stefanie Murray says the Center for Cooperative Media reached out to the editors of NorthJersey.com to help them. The Center now has taken over management of the project.
"They took inspiration from "The Portraits of Grief" from 9/11, a project from the New York Times. The Record also had its own project memorializing North Jersey's from the 9/11 terror attacks. We see LovedandLostNJ.com like that, a memorial will be with us and something when one day soon we can look back on this pandemic."
"Loved and Lost" has added more than 30 media and freelance partners to the project. Murray says that's refreshing.
"It's been a good way to connect with media partners across the state because this is not something competitive. We look at it as a public service. We have unfortunately lost so many people in our state and by working together collectively and not competitively we can tell those stories."
Meanwhile, Abraham says since her mother is a healthcare worker she has been able to have great conversations with her about the pandemic. Abraham says she's fortunate to have had a great support system throughout the project she's described as "a tough one."
Abraham says "Loved and Lost" is a great tribute to New Jerseyans. What has COVID-19 meant to the Garden State?
"It's incredible to think about how much has been lost in terms of human life but also talent and love and service in so many fields. The loss is staggering. When we think we have 700 names listed, that is only a small amount of the people we have lost in New Jersey. We still have a long way to go in identifying names but we want to help tell the stories. COVID-19 has been devastating on the state of New Jersey, but we want to highlight the people who have left their impact and who are so loved by the family members they've left behind."
You can contact LovedandLostNJ.com if you know someone who should be on the wall of names.