About Us

The Lens is the New Orleans area’s first nonprofit, nonpartisan public-interest newsroom, dedicated to unique in-depth reporting projects, as well as exclusive daily stories.

Our mission is to educate, engage and empower readers with information and analysis necessary for them to advocate for a more transparent and just governance that is accountable to the public.

Our aim is to report stories that others aren’t or can’t. Increasingly, traditional newsrooms are facing budget cuts and have been curtailing longterm investigative reporting because it tends to be the most expensive kind of work. We’re here to fill that gap. Without the pressures of filling a daily newspaper or newscast, our staff can dedicate significant time and effort into deeply reporting and analyzing information.

As an advocate for openness, we provide readers with the source documents used in our reporting, inviting them to check and challenge our work, or to build on it through their own research.

We have a diverse set of financial supporters, including major national foundations, local foundations and dedicated readers in the New Orleans area. Though we’re grateful for all support, donors have no control over the operations or editorial product of The Lens.

The Lens was founded in November 2009 and established as a Louisiana nonprofit in February 2010. We were granted federal 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in December 2012, retroactive to May 2011. Until then, The Lens operated under the fiscal sponsorship of The Center for Public Integrity, one of the country’s oldest nonprofit newsrooms, based in Washington, D.C.

The strength of The Lens lies in a highly qualified editorial and research staff, as well as a collaborative network of affiliated organizations.

Co-founders Karen Gadbois and Ariella Cohen began publishing The Lens in January 2010. Gadbois continues to write for the site; Cohen serves on The Lens’ board of directors and is now the executive editor of Next American City.

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The Lens is funded solely through private donations.

Annual Reports

Form 990s

The Lens in the News

Read about us in Gambit, NOLA.ComThe Chronicle of Philanthropy, and the Columbia Journalism Review.