The Lens: Project Summary

The Lens is the only nonprofit, public interest newsroom in New Orleans, providing information residents need to advocate for more just and accountable government.

In order to engage and talk with—not to—their readers, the Lens has created a Speakers Bureau. This project offers the community a face-to-face encounter with Lens reporters and editors, explaining how and why they report the news. There has been much interest in this outreach on topics such as politics, land use, schools, criminal justice, the environment, and city government.

As a way of monetizing this offline effort, the Speakers Bureau will charge for engagements, but will ask for a ‘suggested donation’ rather than a fee. By tweaking the language in a tiny but different way, they have already had some success in getting paid, versus an expectation that they will do it for free, as is often the case for nonprofits when speaking to large and small community groups such as service clubs, PTAs, and the like.

What knowledge will be gained from this experiment?

The Lens hopes to increase offline engagement and learn how the news organization is perceived in the community, what stories it should pursue, and gain insight and input. The Lens hopes that a successful Speakers Bureau will translate into an increase in invested and engaged readership along with a regular revenue stream.