Underwriting the News (and some news from New Orleans)

A. C. Thompson’s Nation article about racist vigilante killings during Hurricane Katrina has been on the edges of the news recently, but what I noticed when I first saw the article was the italic type at the top of the page.

A.C. Thompson’s reporting on New Orleans was directed and underwritten by the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute. ProPublica provided additional support, as did the Center for Investigative Reporting and New America Media.

We’ve written here before about the need for funding for in-depth and long-term journalism about what might be unpopular subjects as newspapers are drying up, and I think we’ll see a lot more of these sorts of underwriting disclosure statements. Maybe every article will soon start and end with “portions of this article have been funded by readers like you,” ala the American Public Broadcasting System’s “Viewers Like You”. (And here’s a short wikipedia history of “Viewers Like You”)

And while the portrait for the Nation article doesn’t make me swoon, I’m always curious when I see two names underneath a photo. Chandra McCormick and husband Keith Calhoun have been photographing New Orleans culture for 30 years (NYT slideshow, MSNBC article with video). They’re also fellows at the Open Society Institute (unfortunately, not too many photos there or elsewhere online, it seems). Their house was destroyed during the hurricane, and it was where they ran their photo studio. Much of their photo archive was damaged, but the water transformed the pictures into a visceral record of the damage caused by the storm and floods. This page at Architecture for Humanity suggests that the Calhoun Center for the Arts has been built, and it might be the new L9 Art Center which is mounting the Prospect.1 exhibition right now, featuring McCormick and Calhoun’s work alongside others’. Wish I could see it.

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