By: Nu Yang
When the New Orleans Times-Picayune cut its print schedule from seven days a week to three in order to cut costs, the city became the largest metropolitan area in the country without a daily newspaper. Many community members expressed their dismay over the announcement, wondering where they would turn for news. Some local media outlets — including nonprofits — stepped in to fill the gap.
In July, the University of New Orleans announced it was creating a new nonprofit, multimedia newsroom in partnership with public radio station 89.9 WWNO FM. The New Orleans Reporter — and the online newsroom at neworleansreporter.org — was scheduled to launch at the end of this year, but the plan to produce original reporting was revised. The new plan for the site is to focus on building and expanding the reporting role of The Lens (thelensnola.org), another nonprofit news website based in New Orleans.
WWNO general manager Paul Maassen said the project was born from the decline of in-depth journalism. He said the situation at the Times-Picayune added a “sense of urgency” to “put our heads together.”
The Lens, along with NolaVie, the region’s nonprofit cultural and community website at nolavie.com, was originally set to be content partners with the New Orleans Reporter. Maassen said the new approach now builds on these partnerships and plays to their strengths.
“We wanted to avoid redundancy and duplicating what we do,” Maassen said. “This collaborative model builds on an infrastructure that’s already there.”
The Lens’ mission is to “build out a more advanced website to showcase multimedia and better provide public-interest journalism to users on mobile devices and tablets.” It will also increase staff from eight to 10, with further growth projected next year.
Maassen said WWNO will collaborate with The Lens to produce multi-platform content and cover general assignment news, arts and culture along with NolaVie.
Even though the original concept behind New Orleans Reporter has shifted, Maassen said the goal is still the same: to provide more content to the people of New Orleans and Louisiana.
“The community benefits by receiving more in-depth content and adding to their information sources,” he said. “It shows nonprofit journalism can provide real value to the community.”