Welcome to the redesigned site of The Lens. We hope you like what you see here, and we want to hear your thoughts on the effort — positive or negative. Please email Managing Editor Steve Beatty at sbeatty@TheLensNola.org. We’ll do our best to incorporate your feedback to make this site the best it can be.
Most regular web users know that no site is ever finished, and we know how frustrating it can be to find your favorite topics moved around.
So why did we mess with a good thing?
In large part, it creates space on the home page to get out various messages: about ourselves, our sponsors and our readers. We also hope the redesign adds more visual appeal to our stories and draws in readers.
Promotion of our work and recognition of our supporters is key to the success of a nonprofit journalism outfit such as ours, said a senior adviser to the president of the Knight Foundation, a respected institution in journalism and philanthropy, and a donor to The Lens.
“If people do not believe news and information matters, if they do not see the impact of journalism, it is difficult to establish and maintain professional media organizations,” Eric Newton said. “Since local media must have local support, the media organizations themselves must take on the responsibility of explaining their impact and advancing news literacy.”
So you’ll find various display areas that link to pages that tell our story and encourage readers to become members of The Lens by financially supporting us. Like most of the nonprofit newsrooms that have sprung up around the country in the past six years, we rely on donations from our readers as well as major foundations.
Our home page still prominently features our major investigative stories in a rotating presentation of the latest four projects. Our smaller daily updates are now displayed with photos on the left side of the page. Those are followed by our opinion items, written by our staff writer or community members. You’ll also find a new category heading at the top of the page that will list all the opinion items we’ve posted.
Below that, we’re highlighting the work of some of our collaborating newsrooms, including WVUE-TV and The Louisiana Weekly.
The redesign marks the return of the Squandered Heritage blog by Lens founder Karen Gadbois. If there hadn’t been a Squandered Heritage, there wouldn’t be The Lens today. Karen will offer a mix of reported blogs and musings, primarily on the state of the built environment in New Orleans — and the politics behind the changes that either are or aren’t happening.
Over the past two years, we saw that many people came to The Lens through web searches, and they’re curious about who and what we are. Our “about us” page has been one of our most popular. That’s why we’ve prominently displayed our mission, linking to pages where you can learn more about us, including our donors.
Above all, The Lens is dedicated to transparency and accountability, and we hold ourselves to this standard as well. We will soon post our articles of incorporation and other organizational documents.
The section you’re reading now will provide some behind-the-scenes information on The Lens, as well as let readers know about our quarterly salons or monthly coffee-house events.
We also want to promote outstanding investigative work elsewhere, particularly by our peers in the nonprofit news world. We’ll update the “What we’re reading” section each day with work that inspires and fascinates us.
Please bear with us as we work out the inevitable glitches that come with a new site. And again, please don’t hesitate to email me directly, post comments here or talk with us on Facebook and Twitter.
We can’t do this without you.