It’s been an interesting week on the New Orleans news media scene — alliances, partnerships, collaborations, competition — and it’s left people a bit confused.
The short explanation, from The Lens’ perspective, is that we want to continue to expand our cooperative efforts to get our reporting to as many people as possible, on whatever medium we can use.
On Monday, The Lens announced a collaboration with WWNO-FM and NolaVie.com. Also that day, we explained that we’re part of an alliance of local online publishers. This morning, the University of New Orleans announced the creation of a major new newsroom, to produce stories online and for WWNO’s new news- and talk-oriented format.
Also, The Advocate announced it will make inroads here, to compete head-to-head in print with The Times-Picayune.
Well-read blogs American Zombie and Library Chronicles raise good questions. They rightly point out that these announcements have been long on concept and short on specifics. For a bunch of news people, we haven’t been very good at answering the kinds of questions we might ask of others.
In part, that’s because many operational specifics haven’t been set. In all of these announcements (and here I’m making presumptions about TheAdvocate), the goal was to announce that SOMEthing is happening.
But just as news operations don’t tout stories that are being developed, in case they fall through (which they frequently do), The Lens and our various reporting and production partners aren’t in a position to explain how these efforts might shake out in the coming months. Some great ideas we have now might quickly run into the buzzsaw of reality. Other good ideas may present themselves.
Of course, The Times-Picayune’s announcement of cutting back print publication — and the debut of nola.com’s widely criticized website — has been the catalyst for most of these moves.
The announcements this week that we’ve been involved with seek to reassure our audiences that this news-rich town won’t be news-outlet poor. And sure, we want to pique the community’s curiosity and start building some interest in these efforts, particularly for fund-raising. (To paraphrase a jingoistic saying, a free press isn’t free.)
As a nonprofit seeking to educate, inform and engage the community, The Lens’ goal is to broaden and supplement the reporting in the New Orleans region. We’re continuing our existing collaborations with outlets such as WVUE-TV and The Louisiana Weekly, working with both on stories this week, even as we announced new reporting partnerships.
The Lens is now in a position to provide its reporting online, in print, on television and on the radio. We’re sensitive to the fact that digitally focused news efforts don’t reach our entire community. And that’s one reason The Lens is helping to produce an event Aug. 8 that will ask readers, listeners and viewers what kind of news they want and how they’d like to have it delivered.
This week’s blast of activity, including Tom Benson’s interest in buying The Times-Picayune, likely isn’t the end of developments in the city’s news media.
The proliferation of news outlets, partnerships, alliances and collaborations should be exciting to the community, even if it’s a little confusing and ill-formed right now. Here at The Lens, we ask for your patience and feedback as we develop our role in these efforts.
As always, we want to hear your thoughts on all of this. Please use the comments section below or drop me a line at sbeatty@TheLensNola.org.