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Loyola at a Glance

The Lens locates newsroom at Loyola, offers opportunities for journalism students

January 18, 2013

Students at Loyola University New Orleans School of Mass Communication will have the opportunity to rub elbows with working reporters and editors running a newsroom now that nonprofit online news organization The Lens has located its offices on campus.

Located on the fourth floor of the Communications/Music Complex on Loyola's main campus, The Lens newsroom will be staffed with three permanent employees while hosting rotating teams of reporters and editors visiting from The Lens offices at WVUE-TV Fox News. The relationship will give Loyola students the opportunity to intern with The Lens and earn professional bylines.

“With a team of professional journalists right down the hall, our students will have another opportunity to gain valuable reporting experience while producing bylines that will help build an impressive portfolio of clips,” said Sonya F. Duhé, Ph.D., Loyola professor and director of the School of Mass Communication. "Hosting the talented team at The Lens is another way the School of Mass Communication can help our grads when they enter the job market with solid experience. We couldn't be more pleased."

Two workstations in The Lens newsroom are set up for students interested in contributing. “I expect the most interested students will gravitate toward this,” said Steve Beatty, managing editor of The Lens. “We hope to snare some of the more motivated, talented and energized students.”

The Lens, which celebrates its third anniversary today, is New Orleans’ first nonprofit, nonpartisan public-interest newsroom. It mainly focuses on in-depth, investigative reporting centering on government, environmental issues, schools, land use and criminal justice. The Lens publishes its stories on its website and partners with news outlets to distribute its work for free.

“We’re part of this trend in nonprofit journalism that started in earnest about five or six years ago,” Beatty said. “A lot of newspapers laid off their highest-priced, most experienced reporters and gave them a year’s buyout. A lot of these folks said, ‘I like what I do, I’m going to go start my own newsroom.’”

In fact, The Lens first started after Hurricane Katrina when New Orleans resident Karen Gadbois noticed something amiss about a federally financed city-run program demolishing houses. The result was more than 50 stories that eventually led to the demolition program’s shutdown. The resulting federal investigation led to four recent guilty pleas, with contractors admitting they paid kickbacks to a city official to get the work; that official has not yet been named in the federal probe or charged.

Fresh off the investigation, Gadbois and former New Orleans-area reporter Ariella Cohen secured the grant funding to start The Lens. Last year, The Lens received its official nonprofit status.

The Lens was judged the best news website by the New Orleans Press Club last year. In the same award competition, it has won five of the six top awards in investigative reporting over the past two years, as well as awards for opinion writing and its social media use.

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Loyola at a Glance is written and distributed for the faculty, staff, students and friends of Loyola University New Orleans. It is published by the Office of Public Affairs, Greenville Hall, Box 909, 7214 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70118. (504) 861-5888.

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