The Lens will pick up many of the newsgathering functions planned for NewOrleansReporter.org
Plans for NewOrleansReporter.org, a nonprofit newsroom stemming out of a partnership between NPR affiliate WWNO and the University of New Orleans, have been "revised." How revised? There won't be a nonprofit newsroom called NewOrleansReporter.org.
Resources from that project will shift in part to the nonprofit site The Lens, which was previously called a "content partner" of NewOrleansReporter.org. "Originally it was gonna be somewhat one-way," says Steve Beatty, The Lens' managing editor, when reached by phone. "We are now going to be kind of the foundational reporting partners."
The Lens will handle beats like crime and government accountability and will continue its investigative work. WWNO will collaborate with cultural site Nolavie.com to do arts and culture stories and produce stories for radio. The change, Beatty said, will allow each newsroom to play to its strengths. "If The Lens tried to produce a radio piece right now we'd sound like a bunch of dorks," he said.
Beatty noted that WWNO will "make available to us some seats in their newsroom. I envision when my reporters are working on a specific radio piece with them, my folks will work out of their office that day." WWNO's site, he said, will serve as a "community aggregator" for stories produced under the arrangement.
The Lens will add two staffers this month, the release says. (It already snagged Poynter's former managing editor, Steve Myers.) It'll also beef up its website "to showcase multimedia and better provide its public-interest journalism to users on mobile devices and tablets," the release says. "Right now we got a Yugo, and we're looking to upgrade to a nice Buick," Beatty said.
WWNO is affiliated with NPR. In July, Gambit Weekly reported a fundraising letter was circulating that said NPR "is investing $250,000 in kind in the project." NPR's press release at the time of the initial announcement said it was providing "consultation to WWNO around technology infrastructure and online revenue generation as well as training to support the rapid deployment of a multimedia newsroom." WWNO's press release says NPR "will continue to provide WWNO with technical support and training.”
In an email, NPR spokesperson Anna Christopher writes, "NPR's role in the project remains unchanged. We did not invest any money in the project. We're offering in-kind support in the form of consulting on a variety of matters - including technology infrastructure and training to support the rapid deployment of a multimedia newsroom."
In that release, WWNO's General Manager Paul Maassen said the change will "achieve the original budget, staffing and reporting goals of NewOrleansReporter.org while reducing duplication and building on established infrastructure.”