The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University has selected Steve Myers, editor of The Lens, as one of 27 fellows for the upcoming year.
Myers will spend an academic year at Harvard studying how nonprofit, investigative news sites like The Lens can reach civic-minded audiences, demonstrate their value and increase reader support.
“It speaks volumes about Steve’s work at The Lens that he was selected for the fellowship,” said Interim Executive Director Nicholas Peddle. “We’ll miss him while he’s gone, but we look forward to having him back next year with his new insights about developing audiences.”
The 2019 Nieman class includes accomplished U.S. and international journalists who specialize in reporting, editing, photography, filmmaking, television news, radio production, social media, data investigations and virtual reality.
More than 1,500 journalists from 97 countries have taken part in the program since 1938.
Myers will continue to serve as editor until the fellowship begins in August. The Lens plans to bring on an interim editor to guide the staff while he’s away; it will announce the next steps later this month.
Founded in late 2009, The Lens was a pioneer in the nonprofit news movement, which sought to fill gaps in coverage left by shrinking, for-profit newspapers. It has won numerous local, regional and national awards and has become known for its collaborations with major news outlets, including ProPublica, PolitiFact, The Nation, and The Weather Channel.
But it has continued to grapple with issues of financial sustainability and audience growth. Myers’ research at Harvard will inform strategies to broaden readership and community support.
Tuesday, The Lens surpassed its goal of raising $15,000 on GiveNOLA Day, which will be matched dollar for dollar by the Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation. In December, it celebrated its largest year-end campaign.
Most recently, reporter Charles Maldonado and Myers won a national award from Investigative Reporters and Editors for their investigation into local prosecutors’ use of fake subpoenas.
Myers has worked at The Lens since 2012, overseeing its government accountability, charter schools, criminal justice and coastal reporting, and spearheading the site’s open-government initiative, The Vault.
From 2014 to 2016, he was professional-in-residence at Texas Christian University, where he taught government reporting and online journalism techniques. Before moving to New Orleans in 2012, he was managing editor of Poynter Online, where he wrote about emerging media practices.
He spent the first 10 years of his career at newspapers. As a reporter in Mobile, Alabama, he focused on local government accountability, including jail management and hurricane preparation and response. He was a 2006 Ohio State University Kiplinger Fellow and an Open Society Institute Katrina Media Fellow.
Myers regularly speaks at public events, ranging from community meetings to national conferences about new directions in journalism.