New journalism collaborative to strengthen health coverage

With the start of the new year, the Kansas Health Institute (KHI) News Service has changed its name to the Kansas News Service and has moved to KCUR  89.3, the public radio station in Kansas City.

“This new collaborative will provide the partnering news organizations resources to do more in-depth reporting on a broad array of issues that directly affect the health of Kansans and their communities,” said Jim McLean, managing editor for the Kansas News Service.

The KHI News Service was founded by the Kansas Health Institute in 2006 to promote greater public awareness of health issues and policy discussions that affect the health of Kansans, because these issues weren’t being widely covered through mainstream media. The move to KCUR will expand the news coverage into radio markets across Kansas.

“I’m most looking forward to this partnership offering real collaboration so that we can achieve together what none of the partnering organizations can do on their own,” said McLean. “Truly working together will allow us to make the best use of our resources and do the best job for the people of Kansas.”

As part of the partnership, the Kansas News Service is now based in Topeka and the journalists are employees of KCUR. The Kansas News Service will work with Kansas Public Radio (KPR) in Lawrence and KMUW in Wichita to provide more expanded coverage than they have in the past decade.

“Our goal is to deliver fact-based journalism to audiences in rural and urban Kansas in a manner that elevates the conversation and provides a basis for informed decision making,” said Nico Leone, general manager of KCUR. “We are focusing on health, education and state government because we believe those areas are critical to the long-term health of communities across the state.”

The Kansas News Service will continue to provide news content to newspapers and other media outlets across the state.

“Non-profit journalism is critical to our democracy and the health of our communities,” said Leone. “Kansas is woefully under covered today. Small newspapers struggle to connect the dots outside of their communities; bigger newspapers have been cutting staff to meet the demands of the bottom line. Issues big and small fall through the cracks.”

This collaborative will reflect the changing nature of today’s news dissemination.

“Our mission is particularly important in a world in which people can access any information at any moment through their phones. Today, politicians communicate through Tweets; hits are king; and anonymous judgements are handed out without a thought to truth,” said Leone. “As newspapers and other media cut back on their resources, biased perspectives fill the void. Standards of truth fall to the wayside and people don’t know who to trust.”

The Kansas News Service is dedicated to being a solution.

“Our goal is to become the most trusted source of news about health, education, politics and policy in Kansas,” said McLean. “Achieving it will require adherence to the highest journalistic standards.”

Over the last decade, funding for the news service was provided by the Kansas Health Foundation and other organizations, who will continue their support of the Kansas News Service and have committed $1.5 million over the next three years.

“At the Kansas Health Foundation, we recognize how innovative this partnership has been to the public conversation about health issues and policy discussions that impact health,” said Steve Coen, President & CEO.  “As trailblazers in non-profit media, we are excited about the expanded opportunities with KCUR.  We believe that Kansans want to know what is happening around our state, and the Kansas News Service can provide that objective, in-depth coverage.”

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