Inside the News Room

The Lens honored for website, charter schools coverage, investigative reporting

The Lens was honored with three first-place prizes at the annual Press Club of New Orleans awards ceremony Saturday night, recognizing our investigative work, our redesigned website and our charter schools coverage.

In the past three years, The Lens has won seven of the Press Club’s nine awards for print investigative reporting.

A rundown of our first-place awards:

  • Local news site. The judges wrote in their comments, “Excellent site: Attractive design and intuitive navigation. Good use of social media and interaction tools, setting the tone for engagement on issues that advocate for the N.O. community.” The Lens was named best local news site in 2012, too.
  • Community news, for the Charter Schools Reporting Corps coverage of more than 40 charter school boards. The judges commented, “This publication’s commitment to covering the local schools has a profound effect on the quality of life for residents. Without these stories, parents would not be aware of the decisions being made or of the mistakes.”
  • Print investigative, for Tom Gogola’s story revealing that Sheriff Marlin Gusman and the city were quietly negotiating to build a new jail facility. The judges commented, “Classic investigation, fine use of public records requests to uncover officials saying one thing to appease critics, but doing another to gain their own ends in a project using public funds.”

In addition, we received several second- and third-place awards:

  • Second place, print investigative, for Tom Gogola’s story exposing a situation in which Gusman and then-Chief Judge of Municipal Court Paul Sens, longtime friends, each hired the other’s wife. The judges wrote, “Good reporting sheds light on a judge and sheriff milking public funds by hiring one another’s wives plus other relatives, drawing official inquiry. Hirings are inside the bounds of the law, but outside the bounds of propriety, and are an outrage to taxpayers.”
  • Second place, news affiliated blog, for Mark Moseley’s posts. Judges wrote, “Wonderful entries. Moseley’s blog intelligently discussed three different newsworthy issues in New Orleans, linking to original reporting by a wide variety of journalists.” Moseley won this award in 2012.
  • Second place, continuing coverage, for Jessica Williams’ coverage of the troubled education nonprofit Operation REACH.
  • Third place, use of social media by an organization, for our use of Twitter and Facebook.

We’re proud to be recognized for our work and will bring our readers more of the same in the next year.

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About Steve Myers

Steve Myers is editor of The Lens. Before joining the staff in 2012, Myers was managing editor of Poynter Online, the preeminent source of news and training about the journalism industry. At Poynter, he wrote about emerging media practices such as citizen journalism, nonprofit news sites, real-time reporting via social media, data-oriented news apps, iPhoneography, and the fact-checking movement. Six of his 10 years in newspapers were spent as a local government reporter in Mobile, Ala., where he focused on local government accountability, from jail management to hurricane preparation and response. He can be reached at (504) 298-9750.

  • nickelndime

    Congratulations! Yes, I believe that THE LENS is doing an excellent job (charter school coverage). This comment by the judges, however, is troubling: “Without these stories, parents would not be aware of the decisions being made or of the mistakes.” Generally, parents are ill equipped (and probably way too busy with their children) to get into school dynamics (finance, operations, etc.) to understand how messed up some of these charter schools and their nonprofit boards really are. Public attendance (where are the parents and staff?) at board meetings is practically zero (if one does not count the reporter). So okay, now the parents have been told (in news articles) what decisions and what mistakes have been made by these nonprofit charter boards. This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to graft and corruption, but it will take years for it to be really uncovered (like the OPSB missteps). Rest assured, THE LENS will not run out of new material. More and more public money continues to be thrown into the problems at these charter schools to “fix” the mistakes that have already cost way too much money (example: $40,000 in legal fees) and wasted academic years at some others. What happens after the mistakes are pointed out? Who can the public count on? For example, why does it take 5 years for the RSD to close some charter schools that appear to have been doomed from the start (e.g., trading ICS off to Einstein for $1 million), and yet leave others open for unexplained reasons? Who will correct the mistakes? Me? Alan? Lee?, et al. And, we probably don’t even count as current parents (I know I don’t).