About Flatwater

About Flatwater Free Press

The Flatwater Free Press is Nebraska’s first independent, nonprofit newsroom focused on investigations and feature stories that matter.

Flatwater. Free Press.

Flatwater echoes the origins of our state’s name, a translation of the Oto or Omaha words for the Platte River. The Platte of course spans the state, providing sustenance and a travel route for this land’s first human inhabitants. Today it connects Scottsbluff to Omaha and hundreds of communities between. The word is all about Nebraska, all of Nebraska, and all of our state’s history.

Free references the First Amendment. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the right to participate in democracy — we hold these values dear. Through journalism, we aim to hold power accountable and amplify diverse voices. Free also describes our free and open nature – anyone will be able to read our work or republish it, with no barriers.

Press is the word that the Constitution uses to assign journalists an important role in democracy. It defines our mission as one of public service. We’re here to tell stories with a purpose: Helping Nebraska realize the best version of itself.


Read Executive Director Matt Wynn’s column that helped launch Flatwater Free Press: We’re launching the next phase in Nebraska news. Here’s why Flatwater Free Press is crucial


Staff

Matt Wynn, Executive Director, Flatwater Free Press

Matt Wynn, Executive Director

Matt Wynn is the Executive Director of the Nebraska Journalism Trust, which launched and funds 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.

Twitter: @mattwynn / Email: mwynn@flatwaterfreepress.org

Matthew Hansen, Editor, Flatwater Free Press

Matthew Hansen, Editor

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 travelled 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.

Twitter: @redcloud_scribe / Email: mhansen@flatwaterfreepress.org

Natalia Alamdari

Natalia Alamdari, Reporter

Natalia Alamdari has worked at newspapers throughout the country. Her reporting has taken her to small town shooting ranges in Missouri, contentious school board meetings in Delaware, and aquariums in Texas. Her past work has exposed state senators using racial slurs in emails, gender pay inequities in state departments, and the increasing presence of dark money in school board elections. Working at the Flatwater Free Press will be a return to Nebraska — in college, she spent a summer interning at the Omaha World-Herald. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia and native Texan. When she’s not reporting, you can probably find her baking, petting her cat, or trying out a new crafty hobby.

Twitter: @nataliaalamdari / Email: nalamdari@flatwaterfreepress.org

Yanqi Xu

Yanqi Xu, Reporter

Yanqi Xu (pronounced yen-chee shu) most recently covered courts and law for NC Policy Watch in North Carolina, focusing on criminal justice reform, housing justice and redistricting. Prior to that, she was part of a team at the Investigative Reporting Workshop that developed the Public Accountability Project, a newsroom search tool that hosts more than 1 billion public records in one place. Her work has put a face to North Carolina’s failed rental assistance efforts, called out the lawmaker fighting to keep children eligible for marriage, and led to nursing home reforms across the country. Also a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, Yanqi received a Telly Award for producing the online video show Global Journalist. She hails from South China, where she first developed an interest in telling stories that resonate with people, no matter where they are.

Twitter: @yanqixu_ / Email: yxu@flatwaterfreepress.org


Contributors

Laura Beahm

Laura Beahm is a native Nebraskan. Laura works for the Hastings Tribune, which she joined after graduating from Central Community College. She loves telling stories in her hometown and surrounding communities. When she doesn’t have a camera in hand, Laura enjoys reading, kayaking, visiting breweries, watching baseball and playing ukulele.

Leo Adam Biga

Author-journalist-blogger Leo Adam Biga has been telling stories about people, their passions and their magnificent obsessions for four decades. The Omaha native and UNO graduate is a freelance contributing writer for various print publications and online media platforms. His work has been recognized by the Omaha Press Club, the Nebraska Press Association and the American Jewish Press Association He is the author of the books “Alexander Payne: His Journey in Film” and “Crossing Bridges: A Priest’s Uplifting Life Among the Downtrodden.”

Chris Bowling

Chris Bowling is the editor of the Omaha Reader. A native of Cincinnati, Bowling graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2018. While at UNL, Bowling was a reporter on “The Wounds of Whiteclay.” The student group project won the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Journalism Grand Prize — the first time student journalists had won that award.

Erin Grace

Erin Grace is strategic communications manager at NCITE, an academic research consortium studying terrorism and targeted violence. The federally funded center is based at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Prior to that, she was a metro columnist at the Omaha World-Herald, where she spent 21 years. She is a former Teach for America teacher and an Omaha native.

Lauryn Higgins

Lauryn Higgins is a journalist whose work has focused primarily on public health, climate change and agriculture. Her work tracking the coronavirus for the New York Times was part of a team that won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

Lydia Kang

Dr. Lydia Kang practices internal medicine at Nebraska Medicine and is a professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. She’s the co-author of a new book on pandemics, “Patient Zero: A Curious History of the World’s Worst Diseases” to be released in November. Kang is an author of young adult novels, historical fiction and nonfiction. Her novel, “The November Girl” won a 2018 Nebraska Book Award.

Jazari Kual

Jazari Kual is a social media personality, and the founder & owner of Kualdom, a conglomerate with several different business lines. Growing up in Lincoln Jazari was involved in the arts and developed a passion for film and photography. When he’s not busy running his businesses, Jazari enjoys traveling, spending time with his family, and volunteering/giving back to his community — all while vlogging his experiences.

Isa Luzarraga

Isa is from Omaha and graduated from Millard North High School in 2021. She is currently an honors student at Emerson College in Boston studying journalism and media studies. Outside of freelancing, you can always find Isa running, reading, and exploring Boston’s Theater District.

Jarrod McCartney

Born and raised in Red Cloud, Jarrod McCartney has family roots in Webster County that stretch back to 1871. A 2003 graduate of Hastings College, McCartney completed his PhD coursework at the University of Oklahoma, then taught at OU, Kansas State University, Oklahoma City Community College, and Central Community College. McCartney has been Red Cloud’s heritage tourism development director since 2015. He has also served as president of the Nebraska Travel Association, and is currently president of the Red Cloud Community Fund.

Lori Potter

Lori Potter spent most of her nearly 44-year Nebraska newspaper career reporting on agriculture, natural resources and rural issues for the Kearney Hub. She’s also a veteran of the York News-Times and Alliance Times-Herald. Potter is president of the Nebraska Press Women and past president of the National Federation of Press Women.

Barbara Soderlin

Barbara Soderlin spent eight years reporting on Nebraska business, education, and communities for the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star. She now works for the University of Nebraska Foundation, advancing agriculture and natural resources education and research. Favorite road trip stops with husband Ryan and daughters Cee-Cee and Clara include Chimney Rock, Homestead National Monument, Carhenge, Smith Falls and any place with ice cream or pie.

Tim Trudell

Tim Trudell is a freelance writer based in Omaha and an enrolled member of the Santee Dakota Tribe. Trudell has co-written three books with his wife Lisa. Together they run a travel blog, thewalkingtourists.com. Trudell has also written for outlets such as The Omaha World-Herald, Omaha Magazine, Nebraska Magazine and Living Here Midwest.

WHAT WE COVER

STATEWIDE

Statewide means what it sounds like — stories as relevant in Valentine as they are in Nebraska City. These are issues that touch all of us. Think: the environment, legislative policy, universities and more. 

HISTORICALLY EXCLUDED

For decades, traditional media has overlooked, well, a lot of people. We set out to do the opposite. One fourth of our stories should focus on black people, brown people, immigrants and our native communities.

METRO

We can’t cover a state while ignoring its two largest metros. We leave space to tell stories about people, businesses and institutions in the metropolitan areas. We include metro suburbs in this category.

GREATER NEBRASKA

We want to tell the stories of all the communities outside our metros, too. Whether they be plain old good yarns or long-term investigations, we’re committing a major part of our content mix to doing journalism throughout the state.


Organization

Board

Supporters

Policies & Documents