University of New Orleans, NPR to announce nonprofit news operation

The University of New Orleans and its NPR affiliate are announcing today the formation of, a nonprofit news operation run by 10 to 20 news producers and funded by up to $2 million in annual memberships.

NPR chief content officer Kinsey Wilson says newspapers’ “weakening and sometimes collapse is leaving communities with a real information deficit. In broad terms, we have seen this as being an opportunity for public radio to be one of the emerging players, as the news business is rebuilt.”

The Wall Street Journal reports: will be operated by WWNO, a local NPR affiliate owned by the University of New Orleans, a state university. NPR plans to provide technical and journalistic expertise for the new operation—part of a broader national effort by NPR to build up affiliate news operations. WWNO already switched to a heavier news format Monday.

The news outlet — it will focus on local government, economic development, education, crime and other civic issues — hopes to be up and running by the end of the year.

* New Orleans news organization to be created by NPR, University of New Orleans (
* WWNO-FM and NPR to announce partnership with (Gambit)

UPDATE: The press release is after the jump.

UNO To Launch

New Multimedia Newsroom to be Led by Public Radio Station WWNO, In Partnership with NPR, With Support from New Orleans Business and Civic Groups

July 27, 2012, New Orleans, La. – The University of New Orleans announced a plan to create a new nonprofit multimedia newsroom to be operated by the University in partnership with WWNO. This new newsroom will produce in-depth local reporting on issues of vital interest to the community, to be featured online through, a news website and mobile platform, and on radio via WWNO. The objective of the University and its partners is to create 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 for decades to come.

“This initiative demonstrates the University of New Orleans’ commitment to our community,” said UNO President Peter J. Fos. “We are an innovative, engaged and solution-oriented institution, and we are thrilled to be incubating this project. Public universities should be beacons of light in their communities, and we feel will help illuminate the issues that are important to the people of the greater New Orleans area.” and WWNO will provide thought-provoking, original reporting on key beats including public accountability and government, business, education, criminal justice, the environment, and arts and culture. In addition to original reporting, will feature and link to other local, national and world news; all content will be delivered in easily accessible formats including web, tablet, smart phone, social media and radio.

Built on a public radio funding model, the new service will be made possible through the support of the community, including voluntary donations from radio listeners and website users; corporate sponsors; and foundation funders and major donors. Current WWNO General Manager Paul Maassen will manage WWNO radio and to coordinate digital and broadcast content. WWNO and will share a common newsroom on UNO’s campus, with reporters producing content for both online and radio formats.

Importantly, will be “open source,” meaning all of its content will be available, free of charge, to other local and national news outlets. With a strong focus on journalistic integrity, will have a clear policy to not sacrifice editorial judgment for the political, financial or promotional goals of any individual, organization or business.

“This is an exciting opportunity to converge digital, mobile and broadcast together in a multiplatform newsroom for New Orleans,” said Paul Maassen, WWNO general manager. “We are grateful for the support the community has shown for this initiative.”

UNO is launching and WWNO’s expanded newsroom in partnership with NPR. NPR is providing consultation to WWNO around technology infrastructure and online revenue generation as well as training to support the rapid deployment of a multimedia newsroom.

“NPR is honored to join with the University of New Orleans and WWNO as they launch this ground-breaking news service. We are excited about the opportunity to provide national support for this critically important local effort to serve the public in creative and new ways,” said NPR President and CEO Gary E. Knell.

Initial community engagement and fundraising support will come from 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.

“In the wake of the most dynamic time in New Orleans’ recent history, we need as many diverse journalistic voices as possible. is going to provide the community with an authentic voice that will allow our resurgence to be chronicled for all to see,” said Nolan Rollins, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans. will seek to coordinate with other local news sources and organizations to maximize existing resources and encourage the spread of high-quality reporting; initial content partners include NolaVie and The Lens.

“Through this new initiative, we’re pleased to extend our ongoing partnership with WWNO to provide news about the extraordinary work that nonprofits and other civil society organizations are doing to transform our region,” said Albert Ruesga, president and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Foundation.

Reflecting its mission to promote civic discourse, success for will be measured in two ways: firstly, volume of readership; and secondly, the degree to which original content is picked up by other media and is recognized as high quality.

“A well informed community has proven to be essential to the transformation of New Orleans,” said Suzanne Mestayer, chair of the Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region. “This commitment to comprehensive coverage of issues facing our citizens and local government will support our work to improve the quality of life in our city.” will seek to be live by the end of the year.

“Greater New Orleans is now one of the most innovative regions in America,” said Michael Hecht, president and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “ will serve to not only provide high-quality news to the people and media of our community, but also to demonstrate to the world that New Orleans and Louisiana deserve their recent recognition as a top location for digital media in the United States.”

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