“If you're hanging out with some Jersey locals and they ask you if you want to ‘go to Wawa,’ don't panic,” contributor Christopher Lotito writes in a recent story about New Jersey slang. He goes on to explain that Wawa, which is a convenience store chain that has “a cult-like following” in the state, has nearly 300 stores in NJ alone.
Christopher, who hails from Essex County, NJ, is a new addition to NewsBreak, having joined the platform this past February. Despite the short time frame, he has showcased his NJ expertise in stories that touch upon every facet of the state, including the aforementioned one titled “Jersey Slang, a brief introduction.”
Beyond NJ culture, Christopher writes about history of the state — including its Dutch influence — and gastronomic legacy, including fan-favorite pork rolls and tomato pies. Chris also routinely unpacks ongoing state legislation and politics, like the push to lower the voting age in the state and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s recent executive order aimed at expanding access to gender-affirming healthcare
Of the many topics Christopher tackles in his stories, he says his favorite to write about focus on “the impact humanity is having on the environment,” and in particular, the tangible effects that overdevelopment, deforestation, and pollution have on the state. He developed this interest in the environment as a photographer working in Costa Rica and Iceland, among other places.
“That drive to document the environment and the way that it's changing as a result of climate change also drives my work as an investigative reporter, researching the organizations that have an outsized impact on the environment in New Jersey,” Christopher told NewsBreak.
Chris recently wrote about how the condo-developer Garrubbo Properties cut 800 trees in Cedar Grove to make room for apartments.
“I decided to cover it because we all see overdevelopment in our communities and the destruction of the environment day to day on our commutes, but we seldom know the story of the shady corporations that are creating this destruction,” Christopher said. “Partially as a result of my news coverage, officials in New Jersey stepped in to enforce a number of environmental regulations at the site.”
In writing this story, Christopher says he not only learned that writing about corporations and about development projects “can make people in power very uncomfortable,” but that “community members care deeply about the development in their community, but don't know what to do about it.”