National Public Radio, the University of New Orleans and a group of local business and community leaders plan to produce a nonprofit news website to compete against the city’s primary newspaper, The Times-Picayune. NewOrleansReporter.org comes two months after the paper’s owner, New York-based Advance Publications, laid off 200 staffers and said it will reduce publication to three days a week this fall–making New Orleans the largest U.S. city without a daily print newspaper–and infuriating many locals. The new site will be operated by local NPR affiliate WWNO-FM, which is owned by the University of New Orleans. NPR plans to provide technical and journalistic expertise, with a staff of 10 to 20 producing news for the web, mobile devices and radio. Also contributing is Steve Beatty, managing editor for the local nonprofit watchdog website The Lens.
Kinsey Wilson, NPR’s EVP and Chief Content Officer told The Wall Street Journal, “What we are seeing play out in New Orleans is a scene we have seen in a lot of communities as newspapers have fallen on hard times, (which is) leaving communities with a real information deficit. In broad terms, we see this as an opportunity for public radio to be one of the emerging players, as the news business is rebuilt.”
NewOrleansReporter.org will be funded by $1 million to $2 million annually in memberships, donations and sponsorships.