Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Steve Beatty, longtime publisher of The Lens, departs under unclear circumstances

Posted By on Tue, Aug 15, 2017 at 3:26 PM

A 2009 file photo shows The Lens founders Karen Gadbois (left) and Ariella Cohen with then-editor Steve Beatty.
  • A 2009 file photo shows The Lens founders Karen Gadbois (left) and Ariella Cohen with then-editor Steve Beatty.
Steve Beatty, longtime publisher and CEO of The Lens, "has left the nonprofit, investigative newsroom in New Orleans to pursue other interests," The Lens announced today — a characterization Beatty disputes. The Lens' website already lists Beatty in its alumni section.

Reached by phone, Beatty said, "I hope to have something to say in the next couple of days." He asked Gambit how the news had gotten out, and was unaware The Lens had announced his departure publicly.

Editor Steve Myers had no comment, referring Gambit to Nicholas Peddle, chairman of The Lens' five-person board of directors.

Peddle told Gambit, "It's accurate he did resign. The Lens has grown a lot under his leadership and the board and staff of The Lens wish him nothing but the best." Asked if the board requested Beatty's resignation, Peddle said, "No, the board did not pressure him to resign." Pressed further on whether the board then would welcome Beatty back if he changed his mind, Peddle said, "He resigned. Let's just leave it at that."

Informed of Peddle's comments, Beatty said, "No. I did not resign."

The story of Beatty's departure, written by Myers, says that a search for a replacement is underway.

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

New Orleans deserves a full-time New York Times correspondent

Posted By on Sat, Aug 12, 2017 at 2:53 PM


Earlier this year, The New York Times moved its excellent New Orleans correspondent Campbell Robertson to Pittsburgh. Robertson did us right for many years, managing both to report the news here and give it the often-complicated context it needs.

But some of the national #nolaflood coverage this week demonstrated that the city needs someone who both understands New Orleans and knows how to explain it to the outside world.

We got it today when The New York Times published a thorough, smart piece of reporting by Katy Reckdahl, which also served as an explainer about the city's pumping system for people who might conflate the levee collapses following Hurricane Katrina with last week's failures by the Sewerage & Water Board.

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Friday, June 23, 2017

The Ind, once Lafayette's alt-weekly, ceases publishing

Posted By on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 5:30 PM

The Independent's final print issue ran earlier this year before it moved to online-only. Today, IND Media announced the suspension of its publications.
  • The Independent's final print issue ran earlier this year before it moved to online-only. Today, IND Media announced the suspension of its publications.
The publishers of IND Media announced today the suspension of, the Lafayette-based news website that housed the former alt-weekly and alt-monthly newspaper The Independent, which went online-only earlier this year. Publisher Cherry Fisher May also announced the suspension of the email newsletter The INDsider, business publication ABiz and the recently launched arts and culture magazine The Current.

The Current, which released three issues, will remain suspended while publishers are "exploring an ownership restructuring that would allow it to resume operations," according to the IND Media announcement. The final INDsider newsletter runs June 30.

The Independent launched in 2003 with a focus on smart, often-irreverent takes on hard news, investigative journalism and local arts and culture reporting. Its office on Jefferson Street in downtown Lafayette put the paper in the heart of the city. In 2012, it went from a weekly to a monthly. In 2017, the paper moved to online-only.

"It's a very sad day for Lafayette journalism," said Scott Jordan, a former Gambit editor who served as The Independent's first editor from 2003 to 2008. "The Mays have a long history of fighting the good fight and trying to do good things in the community, from investigative journalism, to philanthropy, to their events arm. It doesn't feel real that they wouldn't be around in publishing a newspaper."

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Longtime New Orleans journalist Dennis Persica dies at 67

Posted By on Wed, Jun 14, 2017 at 2:01 PM

  • Dennis Persica.

Dennis Persica, a journalist who worked for The Times-Picayune, The Lens and was most recently a weekly columnist for The New Orleans Advocate, died this morning after what was described as a short battle with cancer, according to his brother Michael Persica and sister Anne Persica Morel. Persica was 67.

Persica worked for The Times-Picayune for 25 years as both a reporter and editor, and was laid off in the "digital transition" there along with some 200 other employees of the paper. He led the Charter School Reporting Corps for The Lens for much of 2013, and worked most recently as a freelancer with a weekly column in The New Orleans Advocate.

Persica also managed — and occasionally refereed — the Facebook group Friends of the Times-Picayune, where current and former staffers of the paper kept in touch.

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Friday, June 9, 2017

During Pride month, a look back at one of the first gay rights protests in New Orleans

Posted By on Fri, Jun 9, 2017 at 11:00 AM


In this week's Gambit, we celebrated the LGBT community with a calendar of this weekend's Pride events, discussions of LGBT theater projects and a drag workshop. But as we were working on this issue, we wanted to learn more about how far the battle for LGBT rights has come. So we took a look back at what newspapers had to say during the first glimmers of gay activism in the city.

One of the earliest reports we found: the Gay Liberation Front's (GLF's) first major march on City Hall, which took place January 23, 1971.

"Gay liberation arrived today in New Orleans," wrote reporter William H. Adler, in a page-one The States-Item story that ran that morning. For Adler's story — a slim 425 words — he spoke to several demonstrators, who planned to march that day to condemn a spate of arrests and alleged harassment of the gay community by the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD).

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Monday, April 10, 2017

New Orleans photographer Jonathan Bachman a Pulitzer Prize finalist

Posted By on Mon, Apr 10, 2017 at 3:12 PM

A screenshot from the Reuters website, showing Jonathan Bachman's photo of the moment that police arrested Ieshia Evans. - JONATHAN BACHMAN/REUTERS
  • A screenshot from the Reuters website, showing Jonathan Bachman's photo of the moment that police arrested Ieshia Evans.

New Orleans photographer Jonathan Bachman was named a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News Photography this afternoon.

Bachman's Reuters photo of Baton Rouge police officers confronting protester Ieshia Evans in the aftermath of the shooting of Alton Sterling became iconic on social media (and seems to have inspired, at least in part, Pepsi's disastrous recent ad with Kendall Jenner).

Some of Bachman's earliest work in New Orleans was with Gambit; he photographed the New Orleans Saints for for several years. Last July, he talked with us about how he got that iconic photo.

The winner in the Breaking News Photography category was another freelance photographer, Daniel Berehulak. The only other finalist in the category was the photography staff of the Associated Press.

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Monday, March 27, 2017

The New York Times profiles Sidney Torres

Posted By on Mon, Mar 27, 2017 at 9:38 PM

Sidney Torres.
  • Sidney Torres.

Garbage tycoon/real estate developer/reality TV star Sidney Torres — will he or won't he run for mayor?

The local speculation went national tonight when The New York Times profiled the star of CNBC's The Deed in a larger story about political neophytes who are eying a political run (some inspired, the story says, by the electoral success of Donald Trump):
Much the way Mr. Trump dismissed questions about his checkered private life, Mr. Torres, who sports a man bun, predicted few voters would care about his having had a child out of wedlock with a model or recoil at an Instagram account that is heavier on images of his Gulfstream jet than of gumbo. In fact, Mr. Torres readily volunteers that he was asked to relocate his private jet when Mr. Trump used a local hangar for a rally last year.

“I believe everybody should have the opportunity to have nice things,” he said.
Torres also says he's ready to put $4 million into the race — if he runs.

Read the whole thing — and our cover story about Torres' possible political ambitions.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Report: Alien to land UFO on Bourbon Street on Fat Tuesday

Posted By on Tue, Feb 21, 2017 at 12:59 PM


Lost in the hurlyburly of the first weekend of Mardi Gras, the first month of Donald Trump's presidency and the firehose of "fake news" comes this definitely-not-fake-news from Weekly World News, the former supermarket tabloid that now seems to be an online-only affair.

Billed (rightly) as a "Mardi Gras STUNNER!," the WWN seems to be the only media outlet to report an alien vows: "I'LL LAND MY UFO ON BOURBON STREET — ON FAT TUESDAY!"

The alien from Planet Zeeba, we are told, "wants to paint New Orleans red!"

It's been a busy year for the Alien, according to the Weekly World Newsit met with Trump before the presidential election and endorsed him, despite the fact that Trump's Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton, had earlier adopted an alien baby in a naked grasp for the extraterrestrial vote:
But Alien, who is from Planet Zeeba, the most friendly planet in our galaxy, says that he wanted to endorse Hillary Clinton but felt that she was not fit for office. Apparently, everybody on Planet Zeeba has read Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 missing emails and… “they make us sick. She compromised the safety of her country and of earth.”

Aliens from Zeeba predict that there is a 95.6% chance of a Trump victory and a 100% chance of an alien invasion.
That prediction was more accurate than most of our terrestrial poll-takers ... so it seems a certainty that an alien will indeed land its UFO on Bourbon Street one week from today, which surprisingly is not included in the city's official and exhaustive list of Mardi Gras planning.

Interestingly, the alien did not choose to attend the Krewe of Chewbacchus last weekend, where it might have felt more at home — raising the question: Is this a 'bro' alien? Does the alien want to "earn some beads"? Catch a bit of the Bourbon Street Awards? Split a "federally trademarked" Hand Grenade with Earl and Pam? We'll just have to find out.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Carnival survival tips from the minds of the Gambit newsroom

Posted By on Tue, Feb 14, 2017 at 2:30 PM

This isn't any of us ... I don't think. - SCOTT MYERS
  • This isn't any of us ... I don't think.

Like kissing and peeling crawfish, Carnival gets easier — and more enjoyable —  with practice. Fortunately, the Gambit World HQ newsroom has several decades of combined Carnival experience to help us survive the glittery slog from Twelfth Night to midnight on Mardi Gras.

Below, we share our tips for making it through New Orleans' most gruelingly festive (and therefore best) season.

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Sunday, February 5, 2017

Stories you may have missed this week: Immigration, Carnival prep and James Baldwin

Posted By on Sun, Feb 5, 2017 at 9:00 AM


"WE'RE CALLED TO SERVE THE VULNERABLE": New Orleans refugee agencies respond to President Donald Trump's immigration order.

FREE MOVIE SCREENINGS: Louisiana documentaries at Jazz & Heritage Center today; the Louisiana Youth Justice Coalition hosts a screening of 2017 documentary They Call Us Monsters at Zeitgeist tomorrow.

NOT-SO-NEUTRAL GROUND: People already are saving their spaces for Endymion.

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