Across Nebraska, there are incredible stories that go untold.
The Flatwater Free Press aims to change that, and it’s looking for feedback from Norfolkans.
The Flatwater Free Press is a nonprofit news organization with the goal of telling important investigative and news feature stories from across the state.
“The idea really is to do good journalism. To tell stories that need to be told,” said Matt Wynn, executive director of the Nebraska Journalism Trust, which started the free press. “In our case we’re kind of specifically trying to hit things that aren’t being done.”
There are too many issues not being investigated and too many stories not being told across the state, Wynn said.
“Norfolk is one of the few areas that actually has decent journalism happening,” he said. “There’s a couple others, but man, there’s so many stories that are going untold in this state. ... We need to hear about the cool people we share the state with.”
Wynn said he first saw the need for nonprofit journalism during the financial crisis.
“This is something I’ve been dreaming on for a really, really long time,” he said. “I saw how bad it could get in the news industry. At the same time, there were all these nonprofit newsrooms growing up that I to kind of see and sometimes help get started off the ground.”
Wynn said he realized that he’d need to step up if Nebraska was going to get a nonprofit news source.
“A few years ago, I thought, ‘OK, this is getting ridiculous. Nebraska needs one of these. Nobody else is stepping up to do it, I guess it’s going to be me,’ ” he said.
Stories written by the free press will be published on its own website but also will be free for other media in the state to publish, Wynn said.
So far, the bulk of the funding for the free press comes from donations from both large and small organizations. While there will be other sources of income, donations will stay as the main source of funds, Wynn said.
“It’s all philanthropy,” he said. “It’s all about giving people tax incentives to support journalism.”
The free press has four coverage areas: Metro, Greater Nebraska, Statewide and historically excluded communities.
“We’re aiming for an equal mix of coverage from four different coverage areas,” Wynn said.
Wynn and Matthew Hansen, executive editor of the press, are coming to Norfolk to learn what stories need to be told in Northeast Nebraska.
A listening session with Wynn and Hansen will be from 4 to 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 14, at the Norfolk Public Library, 308 W. Prospect Ave. Another listening session will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Black Cow Fat Pig, 702 W. Norfolk Ave.
“We don’t know what stories are in the Norfolk area or nearby. That’s what we’re going to go there and find out,” Wynn said. “What should we be covering, who should we be talking to, if there’s something we should be looking into. We just want to hear from people what they want from us.”