The Lens leaves Loyola’s campus

Where just last semester there was a bustling investigative newsroom on the fourth floor of the Communication/Music Complex, there is now a dark office.

The Lens, a nonprofit investigative news service, left Loyola’s campus after its agreement with the university for free space in exchange for providing students with internships expired on Dec. 30.

There has been some controversy regarding the university’s decision not to renew its agreement with The Lens, which, the New Orleans Advocate pointed out, coincided with two articles The Lens published about university president the Rev. Kevin Wildes, S.J.’s work as chairman of the New Orleans Civil Service Commission.

Tommy Screen, Loyola’s director of government relations, said that it is “bogus” to imply that the university did not renew its contract with The Lens because of the critical articles.  He pointed out that The Maroon has not been removed from campus despite being critical of Wildes during his ten-year presidency.

According to a disclosure statement Beatty published on The Lens’ website, The Lens began discussing renewal agreements with the university in November but never received a formal response from the administration.

Beatty said, that Wildes was aware that The Lens was working on an unflattering story about him when the proposal was being considered.

“I don’t know if there’s a connection between our coverage and the decision to show us the door,” Beatty said.

Screen said that the university chose not to renew its agreement with The Lens because the original agreement had said that The Lens could use the space until Loyola needed it. Now, because of expanding programs, Screen said that Loyola needs the space.

Beatty said that there are multiple programs at Loyola competing for the space.

“I was told that a renewal would be difficult to get because the School of Mass Communication and the School of Music are fighting over space within the building, and there we were, taking up space,” Beatty said.

Screen stated that the space was valuable to the university and would most likely be filled by an academic program.

NiRey Reynolds, mass communication senior, said that while she is certain The Lens was beneficial for students who had internships there, she thinks the space should be used for academics rather than outside publications.

Sonya Duhé, director of the School of Mass Communication, could not be reached for comment.

According to Beatty’s disclosure statement, Duhé resigned her position on The Lens’ board when the news service began its second story on Wildes, stating that it would be a conflict of interest for her to cover her superior.

Beatty said The Lens expects to sign a lease this week for office space on Earhart Boulevard.  They project it will cost around $30,000.

“We certainly could have used that money to produce more journalism, but we’ll be able to absorb the costs and still publish great work. I and my staff will miss working with students and participating in classes,” Beatty said.