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University of New Orleans WWNO newsroom, The Lens announce revised collaboration

The University of New Orleans announced Thursday revised plans for a multimedia news collaboration between NPR affiliate WWNO-FM and the independent nonprofit news site, The Lens.

The partnership moves WWNO away from the creation of its new platform, neworleansreporter.org. The university-operated WWNO will instead produce content under the existing brand of The Lens

“In this way, we will be able to achieve the original scope, staffing and reporting goals of NewOrleansReporter.org while reducing duplication and building on established infrastructure,” WWNO General Manager Paul Maassen said in the announcement.

The Lens announced that it plans to "build out a more advanced website to showcase multimedia and better provide its public-interest journalism to users on mobile devices and tablets." Its staff will increase from eight to 10, and it will cover the issues of government accountability, education, criminal justice and flood protection.

“Clearly, things are happening swiftly on the New Orleans news scene,” Lens Managing Editor Steve Beatty said on the Lens website. The revised partnership comes seven weeks after the University of New Orleans first announced plans to collaborate with The Lens and NolaVie.com, a local lifestyle and culture site. Those changes to the New Orleans media landscape followed the May news the area's daily newspaper, the Times-Picayune, would reduce circulation to three days per week.

“These changes let us deftly get The Lens and WWNO in strong positions to best serve our audiences," Beatty said.

WWNO will collaborate with The Lens to produce multiplatform content, and is working with NPR to further enhance wwno.org and its mobile platforms. WWNO’s broadcast news staff will cover general assignment news, arts and culture on wwno.org, in collaboration with the cultural nonprofit site NolaVie.com.

“Our mission remains the same,” UNO President Peter J. Fos said in a release. “We aim to be a catalyst in developing a strong, sustainable model for nonprofit, multimedia journalism that will serve the greater New Orleans area as an open source of trustworthy news and information. We also believe that our region benefits when numerous and diverse voices are represented in news coverage and commentary.”

WWNO and The Lens will share content across broadcast, mobile and online platforms, and NPR remains committed to offering its expertise to the project.  

“Our partnership with NPR remains strong,” Maassen said. “NPR will continue to provide WWNO with technical support and training.”

Community partners Greater New Orleans, Inc.; the Urban League of Greater New Orleans; the Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region; and the Greater New Orleans Foundation will help raise supporting funds. UNO will continue to house the WWNO newsroom, which will provide space for collaborating reporters. The Lens will also maintain its current newsroom.

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