New Orleans Nonprofit News Partnership to Receive $102,000 Knight Foundation Grant

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has awarded public radio station WWNO and three other local nonprofit organizations a grant of $102,000 to increase local news coverage on public radio and on the Internet in the New Orleans area. The Greater New Orleans Foundation applied for, and will receive the grant on behalf of WWNO and The Lens, an online public interest news organization, NolaVie, a New Orleans arts and culture news website, and the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, the region’s respected source of demographic data and analysis. 

The Knight Foundation grant is being matched with $100,000 in local donations, for a total of $202,000 that is being invested in public service news coverage in the New Orleans area. WWNO will receive $60,000 from the Knight Foundation, with a $90,000 match from local donations for a total of $150,000. The Lens will receive $21,000 from the Knight Foundation with a $10,000 match from local donations for a total of $31,000. The Knight Foundation also awarded $17,000 to NOLAVie and $4,000 to the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center. 

News stories produced by this collaborative effort will be broadcast on WWNO (89.9 FM), reported on the partner organizations’ websites, and will also be available to other news organizations—all as part of the station’s growing commitment to local news. 

The New Orleans partnership is one of 20 winning proposals from across the nation receiving a total of $3.67 million as part of the Knight Community Information Challenge, a program to help community foundations support local news and information, seen as vital to helping communities shape their own futures. 

“We at the Greater New Orleans Foundation are proud that we could bring these four organizations together to strengthen news reporting in the New Orleans area,” said Albert Ruesga, president and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Foundation. “The free flow of accurate news is vital for an informed citizenry and a healthy community.” 

“WWNO’s listeners desire more local news on 89.9 FM that complements the trusted national and international news that they hear from NPR and the BBC,” added Paul Maassen, general manager of WWNO. “The Knight Foundation grant is a tremendous boost to our innovative local news partnership. This multiplatform presentation of news via digital online and broadcast services will make content available to all. We are grateful to the Knight Foundation for its confidence and support.” 

The Greater New Orleans Foundation is the community foundation serving the 13-parish region of metropolitan New Orleans.  The Foundation aims to create a resilient, sustainable, vibrant community in which individuals and families flourish and in which the special character of the New Orleans region and its people is preserved, celebrated and given the means to develop (http://gnof.org). 

WWNO is the NPR-affiliate radio station for New Orleans and southeast Louisiana, broadcasting on 89.9 FM, and on KTLN 90.5 FM in the Houma-Thibodaux area. WWNO broadcasts a range of trusted local, national, and international news and information, cultural and entertainment programs, and classical music. The station airs the same schedule on HD channel WWNO1, with 24-hour classical music on HD channel WWNO2, and 24-hour jazz on HD channel WWNO3. All can be heard online at http://wwno.org. WWNO is a self-supporting public service of the University of New Orleans. 

The Lens, founded in 2009, is the New Orleans area’s first nonprofit public interest newsroom, dedicated to in-depth reporting projects as well as exclusive daily stories. Award-winning writer Karen Gadbois founded the website and leads the organization along with Steve Beatty and Jed Horne, who direct news coverage. The Lens is a national 2012 Edward R. Murrow Award winner (http://TheLensNola.org). 

NolaVie was launched in February 2011 as the region’s first nonprofit cultural and community website devoted to covering the lifestyles, people and events of the city and region. Founded by former Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra executive director Sharon Litwin and former Times-Picayune editor and columnist Renee Peck, NolaVie offers curated and edited content from an array of award-winning writers, published local authors, musicians, photographers and essayists (http://NolaVie.com). 

The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center has been the New Orleans region’s most respected source of regional demographic and economic analysis for fifteen years. Its staff gathers, analyzes and disseminates data to help residents and leaders with fact-based decision-making (http://gnocdc.org). 

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The Knight Foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. The Foundation is headquartered in Miami, FL, and was established in 1950 (http://knightfoundation.org).