Wichita Kansas | July 15th, 2021
The recent COVID-19 Pandemic highlighted different challenges in our communities. Communication was certainly a clear example, especially in the Latino community in Wichita, where there is no reliable local media to report accurately and in a timely manner in Spanish. "It's been a period of a lot of confusion and anxiety," said margarita Lira, who has been following Planeta Venus Online page for a couple of years.
Even though Planeta Venus has tried to fill the gap in a philanthropic way by sharing information relevant to the Spanish-speaking community in Kansas, with the number of Latinos increasing in the state, it is crucial that there is more coverage in Spanish with information relevant to this community.
The Wichita Community Foundation, an organization who seeks to create positive change for people in Wichita, has been working to identify news deserts and have made space for conversations to help community members have a better quality of life. Focus groups, including some in Spanish, have been held to listen to Wichitans' experiences on local news.
At the end of 2019, The Wichita Community Foundation along with Solutions Journalism Network contributed to bring together local media, Wichita Journalism Collaborative was formed as a result, a collaboration of 7 local media and two community partners.
This week Wichita Community Foundation announced one of the largest funding they have ever made in this community. They recognize that access to local news is critical to the progress of a healthy democracy. As a result, the News and Information Fund at WCF is awarding a record $1.1 million to launch The Wichita Beacon, a nonprofit news organization dedicated to public service journalism.
"We’re taking the next step in shaping the future of local news as a public good," said WCF President and CEO Shelly Prichard. "This initiative embraces local and national collaboration to magnify a sustainable of reporting to truly meet Wichita’s community information needs."
The Wichita Community Foundation has shown interest in being truly inclusive in the projects they support, as demonstrated in April of 2020 during the Pandemic, when they supported Planeta Venus' efforts of informing the Latino Community by providing a grant to hire two college interns who were collecting information and resources about the coronavirus and translating it into Spanish to keep the Spanish speaking community informed during those critical times.
“During our journalism landscape scan with AJP, we saw an absence of critical information in our community,” said WCF Director of Strategic Initiatives Courtney Bengtson. “By transforming the local news ecosystem as a whole, our diverse community can engage in quality content that is central to their lives and the health of our city.”
After years in which the Spanish-speaking community has navigated local systems and information virtually inadvertently, with limited information, Wichita Community Foundation is committed to inclusivity in this project.
“Inclusivity spurs positive and transformative change in our city. We're better positioned to help our citizens mobilize solutions together when all voices are part of the process. By strengthening our local news ecosystem, we're ensuring all Wichitans are included. Our recent $1.1M grant to The Wichita Beacon will allow the stories of underrepresented populations to be told while remaining authentic to each community.” Said Courtney Bengtson.
You can read the full announcement here.