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The Listening Post Collective to Support and Grow Innovative Storytelling Project in New Orleans

August 3, 2020
Young reporters and artists produce equitable and community-driven media at Lede New Orleans

With support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Internews’ Listening Post Collective will incubate Lede New Orleans, a startup community media organization led by former Times-Picayune journalist Jennifer Larino and filmmaker Ejaaz Mason.

Over the next 12 months, the Listening Post Collective will provide guidance and organizational capacity to Lede New Orleans, as the young startup establishes itself as a robust and representative non-profit community media organization.

Lede New Orleans brings local young adults, experienced journalists and creatives together to produce equitable, community-driven media that informs the public and equips the next generation of diverse storytellers with the skills, knowledge and network they need to drive change in their communities. Through fellowships, journalism and film training, editorial support, and media partnerships, Lede works one-on-one with up and coming storytellers to take a local story from concept to publication.

“There is great journalism being done in New Orleans, but it’s shrinking and, unfortunately, has fallen short in reflecting the full range of voices that make up our community, specifically communities of color,” said Jennifer Larino, founder of Lede New Orleans. “Our fellowship program works to elevate and amplify the young voices in our city’s Black, Brown and LGBT+ communities, helping them tell their own stories and reach a wider audience that needs to hear from them.”

“Lede New Orleans is not only working to educate young people about the multimedia journalism career pathway. We’re also pushing for equity in local media spaces that do not fully represent the communities they serve,” Mason said. “Black communities created so much of what we recognize as New Orleans culture. Yet Black voices are few in local media. The culture has been under attack, and we're striving to reverse the damage.”

In addition to editorial and administrative support, the Listening Post Collective will conduct an information ecosystem analysis, used to understand community information needs and ways to reach and collaborate with audiences. During the 12-month incubation, The Listening Post Collective will guide Lede New Orleans’ development of a three-year strategic framework and a plan for sustainability.

“The Listening Post has its roots in New Orleans,” said Listening Post Collective founder Jesse Hardman. “When we started in 2013, we realized entire neighborhoods were ignored by most local media outlets. One way to change that is to listen to and involve communities in the news process. Lede New Orleans is poised to shift the narrative of who gets heard, who gets to report the news, and how important local information makes its way to the wider city. I’m thrilled that the Listening Post Collective can help Lede establish a new paradigm for journalism in New Orleans.”

Recent work from Lede fellows includes a personal profile of a New Orleans schoolteacher, struggling to decide whether to return to school amid the pandemic, a college student laid off from restaurant work, and a dancer preparing to audition virtually for the New Orleans Saints dance squad. Through interviews, videos, and narrative journalism, Lede fellows are sharing the experiences of local residents who mirror their audience.

Lede’s fall fellowship will offer paid journalism experiences for young adults, ages 18-25, with a focus on supporting BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth.

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As a project of Internews, The Listening Post Collective works to ensure that underserved communities in the United States are represented in and have access to news and information that improves their lives. Since 2013, LPC has supported the capacity of dozens of community-based media projects across the country through mentoring, training, and guidance.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal innovator and entrepreneur Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special attention is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti.