The Lens is the New Orleans area’s first nonprofit, nonpartisan public-interest newsroom, dedicated to unique in-depth reporting projects, as well as exclusive daily stories.
Our mission is to educate, engage and empower readers with information and analysis necessary for them to advocate for a more transparent and just governance that is accountable to the public.
Our aim is to report stories that others aren’t or can’t. Increasingly, traditional newsrooms are facing budget cuts and have been curtailing longterm investigative reporting because it tends to be the most expensive kind of work. We’re here to fill that gap. Without the pressures of filling a daily newspaper or newscast, our staff is able to dedicate significant time and effort into deeply reporting and analyzing information.
As an advocate for openness, we provide readers with the source documents used in our reporting, inviting them to check and challenge our work, or to build on it through their own research.
We have a diverse set of financial supporters, including major national foundations, local foundations and dedicated readers in the New Orleans area. Though we’re grateful for all support, donors have no control over the operations or editorial product of The Lens.
The Lens was founded in November 2009 and established as a Louisiana nonprofit in February 2010. We applied for federal 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in October 2010, and a decision from the IRS is pending. Until we receive that status, The Lens operates under the fiscal sponsorship of The Center for Public Integrity, one of the country’s oldest nonprofit newsrooms, based in Washington, D.C. The center accepts major donations on behalf of The Lens, ensuring that such donations are tax deductible.
The strength of The Lens lies in a highly qualified editorial and research staff, as well as a collaborative network of affiliated organizations.
Co-founders Karen Gadbois and Ariella Cohen began publishing The Lens in January 2010. Gadbois continues to write for the site. Cohen serves on The Lens’ board of directors and is now the executive editor of Next American City. For her work with television reporter Lee Zurik exposing widespread misuse of city recovery funds — which led to guilty pleas in federal court — Gadbois won some of the highest honors in journalism, including a Peabody Award, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award and a gold medal from Investigative Reporters and Editors. She now covers New Orleans government issues and writes the Squandered Heritage portion of The Lens.
Managing Editor Steve Beatty is a veteran investigative reporter and editor. He worked as an editor for The Times-Picayune for 15 years, leaving New Orleans just before Hurricane Katrina to take a position as an editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and quickly rose to be an editor of the newspaper’s watchdog investigative team. He returned to New Orleans in May of 2009. Before joining The Lens, Beatty worked as an investigative reporter for The Pelican Institute for Public Policy, a New Orleans-based public-policy think tank.
News Editor Jed Horne is a veteran journalist who was awarded a Pulitzer Prize as part of The Times-Picayune team that covered Katrina and the recovery. He is the author of “Breach of Faith: Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a Great American City” (Random House, 2006, 2008), which was declared “the best of the Katrina books” on National Public Radio.
Education reporter Jessica Williams does everything from editing copy to reporting on notable happenings in the city’s loosely organized collection of public schools. A graduate of Orleans Parish public schools, Williams is well-positioned to cover the city’s ever-changing school landscape. She obtained her journalism degree from Loyola University New Orleans, and she has written for New Orleans CityBusiness, The Gambit, New Orleans Magazine, and the Daily Journal of Commerce Gulf Coast, among others.
Staff writer Tom Gogola covers criminal justice and other topics. Gogola is a veteran journalist and editor who has written on a range of subjects for many publications, including Newsday, New York, The Nation, and Maxim. He has been an editor at Guitar World, Time Out New York, Sesame Street Parents, and other magazines. He was editor of the Fairfield County Weekly in Bridgeport, Conn. Gogola was a 2011 winner of the Hillman Foundation Sidney Award, for his ground-breaking report in New York magazine detailing regulatory waste in the commercial fishing industry. Gogola, a native of Long Island, NY, is a 1989 graduate of the State University of New York at Albany.
Mark Moseley writes opinion pieces and manages the Charter School Reporting Corps for The Lens. Over the years he has dabbled in academia, heavy-equipment sales, and real-estate investment. He is a founder of the annual Rising Tide conference of online journalists and bloggers in New Orleans. He lives in New Orleans with his wife and two daughters.
Development director Anne Mueller, a native New Orleanian, learned about the richness of her city through attending elementary school in the French Quarter and in recent years at the Crescent City Farmers Market selling her dad’s German bread. She received a degree in history from Bennington College and a master’s in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi. With more than 15 years of fundraising experience, her professional experience covers a broad range of areas including annual giving, board development, event planning and research. Through her professional and volunteer projects, Anne is committed to the ongoing revitalization of New Orleans.