We’re joining the Nebraska Journalism Trust

The AIM Institute, which has stewarded the outlet for years, has gifted the name and the archive so the Nebraska Journalism Trust can continue to carry the torch for the news source and its audience. 

SPN announcement

By Matt Wynn, Executive Editor, Nebraska Journalism Trust

Like, oh, just about every single kid to ever grow up in the great state of Nebraska, I spent a lot of my childhood scheming to get out. 

By my mid-20s, I had pulled it off. I was in a big(ish) city with opportunities coming left and right.

And wouldn’t you know it, I found myself fantasizing about home.

I remember, distinctly, hearing about this music festival called Maha, which somehow lined up all my favorite bands. Hear Nebraska and Silicon Prairie News were highlighting creative folks doing cool things in a place I thought couldn’t. I hit the sites daily, reading up on the actions of old friends and their outsized impact on my home state.

It made me regret leaving. It certainly played a role in my coming back.

Now, I’m pleased to announce, it’s all coming full circle. 

The Nebraska Journalism Trust has acquired Silicon Prairie News, the premier site for startups and tech news in the region.  

The AIM Institute, which has stewarded the outlet for years, has gifted the name, the archive, the social media accounts and all the rest. Their only ask is that we continue to carry the torch for the news source and its audience.

We are honored to make that happen, and grateful for their work to keep it alive. 

I wanted to take some time to tell you how we intend to live up to our end of the bargain. 

Our vision is for a reporter to continue AIM’s work. This person — a full employee of the Nebraska Journalism Trust — will doggedly report on developments within our tech and startup ecosystem. The job is posted here. They will be well-sourced. They will be curious. They will pursue leads and ask hard questions. 

In other words, they’re going to do journalism. 

I won’t pretend this will be an easy or obvious evolution. Right now, the Nebraska Journalism Trust has one product: the Flatwater Free Press. The Free Press purposely eschews breaking news. We publish a handful of stories each week, aiming for stories that address systemic questions or exquisite human-interest angles. We spend time on issues, taking pride in going beyond the basic building blocks of news that are the bread and butter of your run of the mill newsroom.

Silicon Prairie News has, historically, been the opposite of that. At one time, they would publish three stories a day. They covered major startup investments across the region. They covered new hires and conferences

The Flatwater Free Press isn’t built for that kind of pace, or news sense.

But there’s a fundamental reason this is a home run. 

Silicon Prairie News is undeniably, unshakably, laser-focused on serving its audience. Anyone in the startup scene, from Omaha to Ogallala, has benefited from its existence. It has done the community building work that a news operation is uniquely suited to do. It has covered its community’s wins. It has examined its failures. It has provided its users the information they need to get to the next level. It has contributed to new connections, through its content and its deeds.

Through that lens, there is no more natural partnership. 

We want to build on SPN’s legacy. We intend to grow beyond the bounds of its historical coverage. We believe It can grow to accommodate other business news. We believe it can mature within the four pedestals of coverage that guide Flatwater: Covering greater Nebraska, statewide, metro and historically excluded groups in equal measure.

We have some clear boundaries. The Flatwater Free Press will not become a hub of breaking business news. You won’t find news of an acquisition or merger on our site. You won’t see coverage about promotions at our major companies or features on Chambers of Commerce award winners.

Perhaps more specifically, we will pull back from covering anything outside the borders of the Good Life. We are not the Regional News Experiment, the National Information Cooperative or the Midlands Idea Exchange. We are the Nebraska Journalism Trust, and we are damn proud.

Starting today, Silicon Prairie News once again cares exclusively about Nebraska. 

Just Nebraska. 

Nothing more.

Aside from that? Well, we’re still nailing down the details. With that in mind, we want to ask you for your advice. Fill out this form to sign up for updates, and let us know what you’d like to see from a reimagining of the coolest tech news site ever to grace the great plains. 

Today marks the beginning of our hunt for someone to spearhead this effort. The job ad is live, and we’re quickly going to spread this thing far and wide. 

Our staff, our board and I are all thrilled about this new path for Silicon Prairie News.

Personally, I’m proud to begin following through on the promise of the Nebraska Journalism Trust. From Day One, I’ve talked a big game about being a big enough tent to encompass any news or information source that merges with our mission. Business coverage certainly fits that bill. 

The Flatwater Free Press is the newsroom I want to see. It’s the newsroom I wanted to work in. But I’m just one guy with a simple idea. This organization is ambitious and sturdy enough to do more. 

Now I can say, unequivocally, we’re doing it.

Matt Wynn is the Executive Director of the Nebraska Journalism Trust, which launched and funds the Flatwater Free Press. He has spent 13 years at news organizations across the country, most recently on the investigative team at USA Today. He lives in his hometown of Omaha with his wife, Sarah, and three children.


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