Krystal Knapp

I’m a journalist and WordPress developer in New Jersey, and I’m the founder and publisher of one of the top local news websites in the state.

About Me

I’m the editor of the hyperlocal news website Planet Princeton, which I founded a decade ago. In 2023, I will launch a new statewide news non-profit that will publish investigative reports, explanatory stories, and solutions journalism. I love finding new ways to serve communities and meet their information needs. I also enjoy coaching other journalists who are creating media businesses.

As an open-source evangelist and WordPress developer, I’m passionate about helping other news publishers and solopreneurs strengthen their business models and optimize their websites. I also love helping news publishers find free or cheap tools to create better web and mobile experiences for their readers.

I was born in Detroit, Michigan. I studied German literature and history at Smith College and the University of Hamburg with a focus on the Holocaust. I then earned my master’s of divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, where I studied comparative religion, the origins of Christianity, and the churches during the Third Reich, thinking I might want to do a doctorate and possibly be a college chaplain and teach. As a student chaplain at a maximum-security prison for men in Trenton, I met a man who told me he was innocent. I researched his case and believed he was wrongfully imprisoned. That led me to volunteer for and then become a staff member at Centurion, a Princeton-based group that works to free the innocent from prison. Through that experience, I met many reporters. When they wrote about cases, it often led to action. I knew through those encounters that I wanted to become a journalist.

After taking journalism classes at New York University and the New School, I was hired as a reporter at the Trenton Times, where I then worked for a decade. I was the computer-assisted reporting and public records expert, and covered beats that included education, local, county and state government, religion, and the federal courts. I then became an editor in Beirut, Lebanon because I wanted to experience and report on one of the most religiously diverse regions in the world and understand more about Islam. After I returned, I freelanced for various local, regional, and national news outlets and magazines and worked at a nonprofit in Princeton. I began my own local news venture in 2011 that started out as a Facebook page. After attending a WordCamp conference in Philadelphia, I became hooked on WordPress because of the helpful community that encourages and empowers people to learn how to create their own websites.

Covering the pandemic has been one of the biggest challenges of my career because there has just been so much to cover. It has also been one of the most important times to be a journalist because the media has been providing vital information to our communities that can save lives. In January of 2021, I created a database of COVID-19 vaccination sites across New Jersey with detailed information about availability and how to make a vaccine appointment at each vaccination site that was updated in real-time and also used crowdsourced information to help residents. That work became a part of, a collaboration powered by volunteers to help residents get vaccinated. Thanks to a grant from the New Jersey Information Consortium, I have been working on creative projects to help people in underserved communities and the vaccine-hesitant get vaccinated and boosted.

As a journalist, I have been profiled for stories in the Washington Post, New Jersey Monthly, and several local and regional publications. I have been interviewed by and am frequently cited by NPR affiliates WHYY and WNYC, and I have also been a guest on CNN’s Reliable Sources and NPR’s Marty Moss Coane Show. In 2019-20, I was a fellow at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri, studying how push notifications can help local news publishers. I worked as an assistant to Michele McLellan on the 2019 update of her database of local news websites, Michele’s List. I have also served as a judge for Report for America, and as the advisor to the University Press Club, a student group for freelance reporters at Princeton University. In June of 2021, I earned my master’s certificate in entrepreneurial journalism as part of the new journalism creators program at the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at the City University of New York (CUNY). I now serve as a mentor in that program and also coach other media and creator startups.

I’ve won numerous awards for my reporting, including the New Jersey Press Association’s First Amendment Award, the Center for Cooperative Media’s 2019 investigative news site of the year award, and the Center for Cooperative Media’s 2021 excellence in journalism and partner of the year awards. I have spoken at numerous journalism conferences, including the Online News Association (ONA) and Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION), as well as at WordPress gatherings. I also teach nonprofit leaders and volunteers how to use social media effectively, and how to share their news with the press. I’ve been a speaker at the largest annual nonprofit conference in the state, Princeton Community Works, for a decade.

A founding board member of LION, I served on the organization’s finance committee until the end of 2022. I’m a member of ONA, the New Jersey News Commons, the Association of Health Care Journalists, and Investigative Reporters and Editors. I was an organizer of WordCamp Philly for three years, serving as a lead organizer in 2020. I am also active in the Philadelphia, PhillyBurbs, and New York City WordPress meetups and have volunteered at numerous WordCamps on the East Coast.

When I’m not working on journalism projects or WordPress websites, I enjoy reading, foreign films, cycling, camping, flea markets, visiting independent cafes or tea shops and bookstores, collecting vintage glassware and antique typewriters, watching curling, traveling long-distance by train, and taking long walks along the boardwalk and beach in Asbury Park and Ocean Grove at the Jersey Shore.

Contact Me

Have questions, need help, or want to work together? Use this form to reach out. You can also book an appointment with me via my scheduling calendar.