NPR, University of New Orleans announce new nonprofit news organization, NewOrleansReporter.org

The Wall Street Journal | The Times-Picayune | Gambit | NPR
Cameron McWhirter and Keach Hagey report in The Wall Street Journal that NPR and the University of New Orleans will announce Friday the launch of a nonprofit news organization called NewOrleansReporter.org, which they plan to have operational by the end of the year. The site will employ 10 to 20 people, McWhirter and Hagey report.

NPR issued a press release after the story, saying the new site will follow a “public radio funding model” and will be open source, like ProPublica and The Texas Observer. NewOrleansReporter.org will be based in WWNO’s newsroom, and its general manager Paul Maassen will run both organizations. NPR, the release says, is “providing consultation to WWNO around technology infrastructure and online revenue generation as well as training to support the rapid deployment of a multimedia newsroom.” It also says NolaVie and The Lens are “content partners.” The Lens recently announced it would also be part of an online news collective called the New Orleans Digital News Alliance.

Advance Publications’ Times-Picayune announced a plan in May to print only on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Advance Digital CEO Steven Newhouse told the reporters that “competition is great.”

Reporters at the new organization will cover local government, economic development, education, crime and other civic issues. “We are filling a reporting gap that the free market will not necessarily fill,” said Michael Hecht, chief executive of Greater New Orleans Inc., a regional business development group, who will head fundraising.

New Orleans NPR affiliate WWNO-FM will hold a press conference Friday, Gambit Weekly reports. NewOrleansReporter.org, Kevin Allman writes, is the same organization New Orleans business leaders have been circulating a fundraising letter about. It was previously to be called NOLA Beat. Allman got a copy of the fundraising letter:

The letter also says NPR is investing $250,000 in kind in the project (though that dollar amount may be an estimate and is subject to change), and “has decided to make New Orleans its ‘beta’ market to develop a robust online platform for its affiliates nationally.”

In other New Orleans media news, Baton Rouge’s Advocate will face some competition for New Orleans football fans: The Times-Picayune says it will print a special edition following New Orleans Saints games. It’ll be a tabloid instead of the usual broadsheet and will “include all of the stories and commentary of The Times-Picayune’s Saints reporting team, as well as other NFL scores, game stories and box scores.”

The tabloid will be delivered free to subscribers and cost 75 cents on stands. If the Saints make the playoffs, “postseason game playoff coverage will appear either in the special tabloid or the regular sports section, depending on the day of the game,” the Times-Picayune post reads.

On the day after the Super Bowl, which will be held in New Orleans next year, a “complete edition of The Times-Picayune” will be delivered, “with comprehensive coverage of the game and the surrounding festivities throughout the city.”

Tom Benson, the Saints’ owner, offered to buy The Times-Picayune — an offer the paper’s owner, Advance Publications, says it will not consider.

NPR’s release announcing NewOrleansReporter.org

UNO To Launch NewOrleansReporter.org

New Multimedia Newsroom to be Led by Public Radio Station WWNO, In Partnership with NPR, With Support from New Orleans Business and Civic Groups

July 27, 2012, New Orleans, La. – The University of New Orleans announced a plan to create a new nonprofit multimedia newsroom to be operated by the University in partnership with WWNO. This new newsroom will produce in-depth local reporting on issues of vital interest to the community, to be featured online through NewOrleansReporter.org, a news website and mobile platform, and on radio via WWNO. The objective of the University and its partners is to create a strong, sustainable model for nonprofit, multimedia journalism that will serve the greater New Orleans area as an open source of trustworthy news and information for decades to come.

“This initiative demonstrates the University of New Orleans’ commitment to our community,” said UNO President Peter J. Fos. “We are an innovative, engaged and solution-oriented institution, and we are thrilled to be incubating this project. Public universities should be beacons of light in their communities, and we feel NewOrleansReporter.org will help illuminate the issues that are important to the people of the greater New Orleans area.”

NewOrleansReporter.org and WWNO will provide thought-provoking, original reporting on key beats including public accountability and government, business, education, criminal justice, the environment, and arts and culture. In addition to original reporting, NewOrleansReporter.org will feature and link to other local, national and world news; all content will be delivered in easily accessible formats including web, tablet, smart phone, social media and radio.

Built on a public radio funding model, the new service will be made possible through the support of the community, including voluntary donations from radio listeners and website users; corporate sponsors; and foundation funders and major donors. Current WWNO General Manager Paul Maassen will manage WWNO radio and NewOrleansReporter.org to coordinate digital and broadcast content. WWNO and NewOrleansReporter.org will share a common newsroom on UNO’s campus, with reporters producing content for both online and radio formats.

Importantly, NewOrleansReporter.org will be “open source,” meaning all of its content will be available, free of charge, to other local and national news outlets. With a strong focus on journalistic integrity, NewOrleansReporter.org will have a clear policy to not sacrifice editorial judgment for the political, financial or promotional goals of any individual, organization or business.

“This is an exciting opportunity to converge digital, mobile and broadcast together in a multiplatform newsroom for New Orleans,” said Paul Maassen, WWNO general manager. “We are grateful for the support the community has shown for this initiative.”

UNO is launching NewOrleansReporter.org and WWNO’s expanded newsroom in partnership with NPR. NPR is providing consultation to WWNO around technology infrastructure and online revenue generation as well as training to support the rapid deployment of a multimedia newsroom.

“NPR is honored to join with the University of New Orleans and WWNO as they launch this ground-breaking news service. We are excited about the opportunity to provide national support for this critically important local effort to serve the public in creative and new ways,” said NPR President and CEO Gary E. Knell.

Initial community engagement and fundraising support will come from Greater New Orleans Inc., the Urban League of Greater New Orleans, the Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region, and the Greater New Orleans Foundation.

“In the wake of the most dynamic time in New Orleans’ recent history, we need as many diverse journalistic voices as possible. NewOrleansReporter.org is going to provide the community with an authentic voice that will allow our resurgence to be chronicled for all to see,” said Nolan Rollins, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans.

NewOrleansReporter.org will seek to coordinate with other local news sources and organizations to maximize existing resources and encourage the spread of high-quality reporting; initial content partners include NolaVie and The Lens.

“Through this new initiative, we’re pleased to extend our ongoing partnership with WWNO to provide news about the extraordinary work that nonprofits and other civil society organizations are doing to transform our region,” said Albert Ruesga, president and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Foundation.

Reflecting its mission to promote civic discourse, success for NewOrleansReporter.org will be measured in two ways: firstly, volume of readership; and secondly, the degree to which original content is picked up by other media and is recognized as high quality.

“A well informed community has proven to be essential to the transformation of New Orleans,” said Suzanne Mestayer, chair of the Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region. “This commitment to comprehensive coverage of issues facing our citizens and local government will support our work to improve the quality of life in our city.”

NewOrleansReporter.org will seek to be live by the end of the year.

“Greater New Orleans is now one of the most innovative regions in America,” said Michael Hecht, president and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “NewOrleansReporter.org will serve to not only provide high-quality news to the people and media of our community, but also to demonstrate to the world that New Orleans and Louisiana deserve their recent recognition as a top location for digital media in the United States.”

For contact and donation information, go to NewOrleansReporter.org.

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