The Louisiana Illuminator is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization driven by its mission to cast light on how decisions are made in Baton Rouge and how they affect the lives of everyday Louisianians, particularly those who are poor or otherwise marginalized. Here readers will find in-depth investigations and news stories, news briefs and commentary, all of which is intended to help them make sense of how state policy is crafted, how it helps or hurts them and how it helps or hurts their neighbors across the state.

Notwithstanding the way political reporting is often presented, we see politics as neither sport nor entertainment. There are quality-of-life consequences – even life-and-death consequences – to environmental permitting decisions, to health care policy, to income- and sales-tax rates, to budgetary cuts and to economic development plans. For those reasons, the Illuminator does not cover politics in a way that centers on politicians, their squabbles with one another or their career ambitions. Instead, we center on Louisianians from Ouachita to Calcasieu, from Plaquemines to Caddo who must live with the decisions their political leaders make. Though we’re located in Baton Rouge, we understand that the ramifications of decisions made in our capital are felt across the state and that those stories are often best told in cities, towns and parishes far from the halls of power.

As our name indicates, our mission is to shine a bright light on Louisiana, to highlight the state’s successes and its examples of good and responsive government and to expose its failures and corruption.

An affiliate of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers like you, the Louisiana Illuminator retains editorial independence and is presented to readers free of charge and without advertising.

Other news outlets are welcome to republish the content found here, as long as the Illuminator is properly attributed.

Louisiana Illuminator, P.O. Box 44267, Baton Rouge, LA 70804

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Julie O'Donoghue

Senior Reporter

Julie O’Donoghue is a senior reporter for the Louisiana Illuminator and producer of the Louisiana Illuminator podcast. She’s received awards from the Virginia Press Association and Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press. Julie covered state government and politics for NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune for six years. She’s also covered government and politics in Missouri, Virginia and Washington D.C. Julie is a proud D.C. native and Washington Capitals hockey fan. She and her partner, Jed, live in Baton Rouge. She has two stepchildren, Quinn and Steven.

Wes Muller


Wes Muller traces his journalism roots to 1997 when, at age 13, he built and launched a hyper-local news website for his New Orleans neighborhood. In the years since then, he has freelanced for the Times-Picayune and worked on staff at the Sun Herald in Biloxi, WAFB/CBS in Baton Rouge, and the Enterprise-Journal in McComb, Mississippi. He also taught English as an adjunct instructor at Baton Rouge Community College. Much of his journalism has involved reporting on First Amendment issues and coverage of municipal and state government. Muller is a New Orleans native, a Jesuit High School alumnus, a University of New Orleans alumnus and a veteran U.S. Army paratrooper. He lives in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, with his two sons and his wife, who is also a journalist.

JC Canicosa


JC Canicosa is an award-winning journalist at the Louisiana Illuminator. Canicosa has previous experience at Investigate-TV and The Loyola Maroon and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. At Loyola, he was the senior staff writer at The Maroon and the president of the school’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Off the clock, Canicosa enjoys playing basketball, watching movies and dabbling in comedy writing.

Rachel Mipro


Rachel Mipro has previous experience at WBRZ and The Reveille and earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Louisiana State University. At LSU, she worked as an opinion editor for The Reveille and as a nonfiction editor for the university’s creative writing journal. In her free time, she enjoys baking, Netflix and hiking.