Local journalism site helps hold the powerful accountable

communities / Article

September 7, 2012 by Jenna Buehler

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Karen Gadbois, co-founder of The Lens, is the 2012 recipient of the Society of Professional Journalists’ annual Ethics in Journalism Award.

The Lens has twice received funding through the Knight Community Information Challenge.

Gadbois won the award following a complex policy story that held the New Orleans Police Department accountable to its own policy that requires police records of homicide victims at crime scene new conferences.

Her story, though initially unpopular, highlighted inconsistencies in that policy that were likely neglected in an effort to protect the reputation of a local police department volunteer. Its commitment to the public’s right to know has brought The Lens multiple awards this year including the National Edward R. Murrow Award for reporting on one homeowner’s ultimately unsuccessful six-year struggle to get back into her Katrina-damaged house. The nonprofit site also collected multiple Excellence in Journalism Awards. In response to the award, The Lens’s editors emphasized that their top priority is to educate and inform the community about important policy issues — particularly difficult ones. Steve Beatty, managing editor, said that serving the public in this way is more gratifying than being honored by peers. By Jenna Buehler, executive assistant/communications at Knight Foundation

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