The Nebraska Journalism Trust was established in April 2021 to address the declines in local journalism across the state. Through its flagship publication, the Flatwater Free Press, they have been producing a unique combination of hard-hitting investigative journalism and feature stories that hold up the best of Nebraska. Launched in September 2021, Flatwater’s journalists have already shed light on the state’s troubled prison system, uncovered the abuses of hedge-fund landlords, filed suit against a state agency over freedom of information laws, sent a reporter to Poland with Nebraskans seeking to help Ukrainian refugees, and initiated a statewide conversation about long-standing water quality issues in small towns and rural communities. Stories are republished regularly in all of the state’s major outlets — print, broadcast and online — and dozens of weekly community newspapers. The average story reaches 355,000 Nebraskans; almost 1 in 4 adult residents.
With support from the American Journalism Project, the Nebraska Journalism Trust team will expand and pilot several affiliated newsrooms to serve small communities and neighborhoods in an effort to solve one of the toughest challenges in Nebraska’s local news landscape.
We’re working toward a vision of a thriving local news ecosystem that serves all of Nebraska. The Nebraska Journalism Trust aims to be the central organization for newsrooms across the state, serving each community and covering every topic of interest to Nebraskans. We’ll achieve this through collaboration with journalism and philanthropy partners in the state. In the short-term, we’re expanding our newsroom and business operations staff and increasing our community listening, events and multimedia reporting capacity.
Matt Wynn, Executive Director
Matt Wynn is the Executive Director of the Nebraska Journalism Trust, which publishes the Flatwater Free Press. Most recently, he was an editor on the investigative desk at USA Today, where his investigation into the proliferation of model bills in statehouses was awarded the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting. Prior to that, he was the Director of Investigative and Enterprise at MedPage Today. He also spent time as a reporter at the Omaha World-Herald and other newspapers. An Omaha Central alum, he graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He lives in Omaha with his wife, Sarah, and three children.
Matthew Hansen is the editor of the Flatwater Free Press, Nebraska’s first statewide nonprofit news source. Hansen, a 16-year veteran of Nebraska newspapers, has previously worked as a reporter at the Lincoln Journal Star and then a reporter and metro columnist at the Omaha World-Herald. During his time in newspapers, he traveled to Cuba and Afghanistan and won multiple state, regional and national awards for investigative stories, feature stories and columns. He was the 2015 Great Plains Writer of the Year. Most recently Hansen has served as the managing editor at the Buffett Early Childhood Institute, creating a new website focusing on early childhood education. The native of Red Cloud and one-time intern at the Red Cloud Chief and the Hastings Tribune now lives in Omaha and is married to Sarah Baker-Hansen, a longtime Nebraska food writer and restaurant critic. Their book together, “The Better Half” is an examination of the Nebraska’s finest road trips, restaurants and hidden stories.