Inside the News Room

Open Society Foundations renew and increase funding for The Lens

We’re proud to announce a continuing and increased grant from one of our major donors, the Open Society Foundations.

The Lens was founded in 2009 as the city’s first nonprofit newsroom with a grant from Open Society, and it has supported us at an average of $160,000 over the past three years. It is generously increasing its donation to $200,000 in each of the next two years.

Our support has continued to grow and diversify, with several national foundations now funding The Lens, as well as local foundations and individuals. As always, we’re grateful and humbled by all of this support, and the underlying acknowledgement that our work is relevant and making a difference.

Our good news comes amid the bad news that The Times-Picayune is cutting back to three newspapers a week. The coincidental timing underscores the need for, and importance of, The Lens.

We’ve always said we’re here to fill the gaps left by the shrinking traditional news sources, particularly the newspaper.

Until now, the effects of that contraction have been vague, with many readers perhaps not noticing the drop in deeply reported, long-term stories from the city’s major daily. But that reduction will be impossible to miss when there’s no newspaper on their porches four days a week.

The Open Society grant is a boost, but it still represents less than a third of our annual budget. We’ll continue to ask our readers for their support, in whatever way they can.

Nonprofit newsrooms across the country are struggling to come up with a sustainable business model, and many, including The Lens, offer memberships similar to those at public radio stations.  If you believe in our work, please consider becoming a member.

Even as we continue to work with our peers to figure out the best way to finance our operations, be assured that we remain committed to providing public-interest journalism that educates, energizes and engages our community.

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About Steve Beatty

Steve Beatty is the publisher and chief executive officer of The Lens. He worked as an editor for The Times-Picayune for 15 years, leaving New Orleans just before Katrina to take a position as an editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and quickly rising through the ranks to be an editor of the newspaper’s watchdog investigative team. He returned to New Orleans in May of 2009. He can be reached at (504) 655-2375.

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  • Jere Joiner

    Interesting story on how The Lens rose up to fill the void created by TP misfortune. But it happens all over the country. Thee Shreveport Journal disappeared. So did the Rocky Mountain News, only years later. The Gazette in Colorado Springs downsized and turned its printing over to the Denver Post. But before that happened the alternative Colorado Springs Independent, a free weekly, popped up on street corners and in businesses partially staffed by (guess who?) employees of The Gazette who saw hard times a-coming and quit before the axe fell. Omnia mutantur nos et mutamur in illis. All things change, and we change with them.