Lauren Pluim | Mustang News

“Talking to people and listening how [they] saw the world through their lens was really humanizing for me,” The Lens Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Daniel Hornett said.

After Hornett and Nesrine Majzoub, co-founder and chief creative officer at The Lens, traveled to Washington D.C. in February 2017 to film a documentary on President Donald Trump’s inauguration and the Women’s March, they were inspired by the differing perspectives of the people involved. This sparked the idea to share news stories on political and humanitarian issues through the eyes of the audience, thus creating The Lens.

YouTube video
Video by Hannah Glazer

The Lens is a startup company that went through Cal Poly’s Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program and is now developing at the San Luis Obispo HotHouse. The Lens is a digital publication that reports on the human effects of policy, politics and culture through a first-person perspective.

“Most [news] networks tell the news through a bird’s-eye view approach, which is valuable to know the facts and the overview of what political issues are like,” Majzoub said. “But we find it very valuable to talk to the people affected so we can really understand the issues at hand by the voices that really matter in the conversation.”

When reporting a story, Majzoub and Hornett begin with a topic that they feel is undercovered in the media and then find journalists local to the area they are covering to partner with them on the story. The pair find that the combination of local reporters and videography, captures the raw emotion behind their news stories.

Along with using local reporters to tell the stories, The Lens also offers their viewers the opportunity to share their personal stories or perspectives on news stories and topics covered.

“We wanted to give people the opportunity to put their own voice into these types of conversations and to provide their perspectives so other people might understand the issue a little bit differently,” Hornett said.

The Lens went live with its first piece March 1 and has been publishing a video each week since.

Their recent work includes a series on Venezuela discussing the recent violent protest outbreaks from a lack of food and medicine in the country. Each video tells the story from a different perspective of a Venezuelan civilian.

Hornett and Majzoub are looking to expand in the next few years by increasing their production rate to align with other national news publishers.

To learn more about The Lens or share your story, visit

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