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“Philanthropies Pledge $500 Million to Address Crisis in Local News”

Dear Lens Community,

If that headline didn’t grab your attention as a consumer and supporter of local news then let me tell you why this is so important. 

The Lens was a part of a small group of organizations that took shape in the mid 2000’s. It was really the beginning of nonprofit news as a legitimate media outlet. The IRS didn’t know what to do with us, and we spent a lot of time proving our model sufficient enough to get our nonprofit status. 

At the time there were fewer than 30 outlets in the peer organization we were a part of. INN has now grown to over 400. That’s a lot of stories to tell—and a lot of mouths to feed. Along the way there have been a number of initiatives that have seeded a few efforts, while leaving the many still unable to access the operating capital to create a just and equitable workplace and provide the news the community wants and needs.  

We’ve been a vital part of the news landscape, not just here in Louisiana but nationally, as a model for what to do, what we don’t do, and perhaps most importantly what we value.

We have been able to do that because our donors, supporters, readers, and subscribers have been there for us.

In a recent conversation with an advisor to The Lens, he called us the “OG.” Old Guard. And while it can sometimes feel like we’re still in the toddler phase, we have indeed produced award winning, life changing stories, and gained the trust of readers. That is something money can’t buy.

What money can buy is creating a just and equitable workplace. Where humanity is a part of our guiding ethos for our staff, our community and the subjects of our stories. 

Additionally, during the past few months I have taken part in the creation of ANNO, a growing group of publishers of all sizes who feel deeply about small(er) newsrooms and the value of those outlets reporting from varied communities on issues that matter. We hope to attract the renewed attention of national funders, who tend to focus on new initiatives. Our mission, however, remains the same. While the format of news distribution has changed, the core mission of the work has not. 

Recently The Texas Tribune took the drastic action of laying off eleven people from the editorial side. For years the Tribune had been the model that we were encouraged to follow, but with this seismic change, we should all be thinking, rethinking, and rebooting our models. 

So we all Press Forward as they say.

And we hope that you continue to Press Forward with us by signing up for our newsletter, donating, and sharing our stories.

And remember, no news is not good news,

Karen Gadbois
Founder and Director

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The Lens is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donations made to The Lens are tax-deductible. To donate, click here.

The Lens • PO Box 13242 • New Orleans LA 70185

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Karen Gadbois

Karen Gadbois co-founded The Lens. She now covers New Orleans government issues and writes about land use. With television reporter Lee Zurik she exposed widespread misuse of city recovery funds and led...