Supporters gathered to rally with then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in a cargo hangar at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Nov. 6.
Supporters gathered to rally with then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in a cargo hangar at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Nov. 6. Credit: Courtesy of / REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Dear Readers,

I’ll save myself 1,000 words and let you consider the picture above.

It was taken at a Donald Trump rally last week, and it’s no secret that Trump has dispensed with any subtlety in his attacks on journalists and the First Amendment. He’s not alone.

Regardless of your politics, the idea of silencing journalists should scare the hell out you.

A healthy, thriving democracy relies on the participation of informed citizens, and journalists play a vital role. It’s a responsibility we take seriously at The Lens.

“We’re going to have people sue you like you’ve never got sued before.”— Donald Trump to the news media

The news media has never been perfect, and it has always been under attack by Democrats and Republicans alike, for valid reasons and bogus ones — but not like this, and not from the top. One of the president-elect’s first moves violated a basic and mundane protocol when on Thursday he refused to let a small press pool travel with him to the White House.

In short, he’s saying you have no right to know what he’s doing.

Access and openness aren’t partisan issues. The next four years follow two terms in which President Obama failed to fulfill his promise to be the most transparent president. More than three dozen journalism organizations, some counting The Lens as a member, upbraided the president and his administration just two months ago.

These developments show a troublingly dismissive attitude toward journalists and, by extension, the general public they represent.

The Lens has established itself as an aggressive advocate for openness and transparency in local government, and we intend to continue that mission. We need your help.

Unlike the national news outlets on each coast, we’re part of your community. And as a nonprofit newsroom, we rely on your support. We live, work, play and pray here with you. We’re committed to providing unique policy reporting in the public interest to give you the information you need to advocate for accountable and just governance. We fight for you.

We’ve won two expensive court cases against the city of New Orleans seeking the release of basic information about how the city spends your tax money — and the city is resisting by appealing both cases.

We take the time to put news in perspective. And our investigative reporting holds our leaders accountable for their promises and actions. This kind of journalism is dwindling locally and nationally as major news corporations slash budgets and lay off reporters.

The Lens shows its commitment to the community by listening directly to you, our readers. For example, our Breakfast with the Newsmakers event next week provides a forum for you to join us and examine what a Trump presidency means for environmental issues such as the Paris climate agreement and our disappearing coastline (spoiler alert: the implications are catastrophic for our region.)

“It’s freezing and snowing in New York – we need global warming!”— Donald Trump on climate change

Bob Marshall, our Pulitzer Prize winning environmental reporter, will continue the incisive reporting that puts federal decisions in a Louisiana context. Please help support Bob’s work and the rest of our dedicated staff.

Become a member of The Lens now. Your tax-deductible gift today will keep us fighting for you tomorrow. And if it’s within your means, a recurring gift of any amount will help sustain our work well into the future.

Our fight may have gotten tougher, but we’re up for it. Are you?


With gratitude,
Steve Beatty,
Publisher and CEO of The Lens

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...