The New Orleans Journalism Project

The New Orleans Journalism Project (NOJP) teaches journalism through criminal justice and criminal justice through journalism.

The purpose of the New Orleans Journalism Project is twofold: to help train a new generation of investigative journalists to tell the stories of our criminal justice system and to educate local students about the history of criminal justice in our region, how media covers it, and how they can tell the stories that matter to their own communities.

Our investigative work is modeled on projects like our partner, the Medill Justice Project at Northwestern University. We work with graduate and high-level undergraduate students to investigate stories related to criminal justice.

Our educational program is designed to be flexible so we can work with Professors and Teachers with various levels of student. New Orleans has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world, and our goal is to help ensure that the stories of our criminal justice system are told accurately and fairly by the people most affected by it.

Background

THE IDEA FOR THE NOJP FORMED WHEN TOM LOWENSTEIN, THEN POLICY DIRECTOR AT INNOCENCE PROJECT NEW ORLEANS, VISITED PROFESSOR JAY SHELLEDY’S CLASS AT LSU WITH EXONEREE GREG BRIGHT IN 2010. AFTER SEVERAL YEARS OF INFORMAL COLLABORATIONS, THE ORGANIZATION WAS LAUNCHED IN 2015. PLEASE GET IN TOUCH FOR MORE INFORMATION.

Who We Are

Tom Lowenstein


Founder, Director

Tom Lowenstein was an investigator and then Policy Director for Innocence Project New Orleans from 2008-2011. He was a Teaching Fellow for Dr. Robert Coles at Harvard and has taught for Bard Early College New Orleans. He has published articles in The American Prospect and the Philadelphia City Paper, as well as op-eds in The Boston Globe, The New Orleans Times-Picayune, and on Huffington Post, and is a past recipient of a Fund for Investigative Journalism grant. He is currently finishing a book, The So-Called Confessions of Walter Ogrod, about a wrongful death penalty conviction out of Philadelphia.

After moving to New Orleans in 2008 and working at IPNO I got an up-close look at the local justice system and, over time, gained an understanding of how media coverage of criminal justice, when not told by locals, can be distorted. Combine this with my own experience as the son of a murder victim who has had the experience of having to deal with the press, and I wanted to create an organization that would help train journalists to hold our system accountable with quality, in-depth reporting and storytelling and that would help younger students understand the criminal justice system and tell their own stories about it.

– Tom

Katy Reckdahl


Editorial Director

Katy Reckdahl is a New Orleans-based news reporter who is a frequent contributor to the city’s current daily paper, The New Orleans Advocate, and a former staff writer for the city’s former daily, The Times-Picayune. She’s also contributed to The New York Times, The Weather Channel, National Geographic, Next City, and The Christian Science Monitor. Reckdahl’s news reporting has five times been named best-in-show by the New Orleans Press Club’s annual awards. Nationally, she has been given a Casey Award for Meritorious Journalism and a James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism and won a prestigious, year-long Katrina Media Fellowship through the Open Society Institute as well as two successive grants from the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

In the 16 years that I have covered working-class people in New Orleans, I have always been shocked at how deeply the criminal-justice system pervades most households, engulfing parents, children, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. When I worked at the Times-Picayune, I often was the reporter assigned to knock on the family’s door after a son had been shot dead. It is a grim assignment, one that makes clear that merely reporting on a young man lying dead on the sidewalk — like is often done — does not capture his mother’s hopes or the love of his children nor does it give us any insight into violence or justice. I find that reporting so often lacks a broader context and I’d like to work to change that.

– Katy

Terri Coleman


Education Director

New Orleans native Terri Coleman has BAs in English and History from Southern University at New Orleans and a Masters in Literary Studies from Eastern Illinois University. Coleman has taught college writing and historical writing at Eastern Illinois University and Dillard University, where she currently works as an instructor in the English Department, and has published in peer-reviewed academic journals such as the Africana Studies Review as well as nonacademic publications like Albeit and on Jezebel.com. She also works as Program Coordinator for the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge, an academic trivia league for students at historically Black colleges and universities. Additionally, she is a commentator on issues of race, education, and disaster in New Orleans, with recent appearances on Al Jazeera English, NPR affiliate WNYC, and French public television.

My interest in NOJP comes from growing up black in New Orleans, living in aggressively policed neighborhoods after the storm, seeing police use excessive force against my father when they arrested him in front of our house, and having an older brother who’s been in and out of jail for nonviolent drug offenses for the last 20 years–and never really seeing journalism that represented any of those pieces of my world.

– Terri

Contact Us

Contact us at info@nojp.org or through the form below to get in touch.

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