The Beacon is building a regional nonprofit news network dedicated to public service journalism for Kansas and Missouri.
The Beacon launched in Kansas City in 2020, covering the city with stories that were revelatory, contextual, data-driven and solutions-driven. Beacon reporters cover issues of health care, education, economics, environment and civic engagement to inform and engage local readers. The Beacon was named Emerging Publisher in 2020 by Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and received the Community Champion Award from the Institute for Nonprofit News in 2021.
With support from the American Journalism Project and the Wichita Community Foundation, The Beacon established itself as a nonprofit network and launched its second newsroom in Wichita, Kansas, in July 2021.
Eventually, The Beacon aims to operate newsrooms across Kansas and Missouri serving the two states’ 9 million residents.
Kelsey Ryan, a native Kansan, founded The Beacon to serve her community through an innovative and public-service approach to journalism. As publisher, she oversees editorial strategy, audience and product strategy for the entire nonprofit news network. Kelsey was part of the Kansas City Star investigative team that was named a 2018 Pulitzer Prize finalist in Public Service. She started her career covering the EF-5 tornado at The Joplin (Missouri) Globe, and later worked at The Wichita (Kansas) Eagle covering health care, city government and investigations. She’s a board member for the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government and frequently lectures at universities in Kansas and Missouri.
Matt Hennie is executive editor of The Wichita Beacon. Previously, he served as co-publisher of Project Q Atlanta, a digital news site covering LGTBQ issues he launched in 2008. He started his career covering public safety and education, and later added health care, government, politics and public policy. Matt worked as a freelancer, reporter and editor focused on local news for 27 years at media outlets in Georgia, South Carolina and Texas.