WJC widens its audience through text-messaging system

By Shaylee Gibbs | Wichita Journalism Collaborative

Local news organizations provide up-to-date information about what’s happening in our communities and around the nation. But there’s a gap between how news is often delivered and how people stay connected in the smartphone era.

The Wichita Journalism Collaborative, a coalition of 11 media and community organizations,  hopes to bridge that separation through text message alerts via the Subtext platform.

The journalism collaborative has been experimenting with Subtext since 2021. The system is operated by a current intern at the WJC, this year being Wichita State student Jordon Plowman.

“This year, the coalition is hoping to expand its use to a bigger audience. More interaction with people as well as producing more stories will hopefully spread our goals and make them easier to achieve,” Plowman said.

The journalism collaborative is encouraging readers to submit the most pressing questions they have about Wichita and makes its journalists available to research and hopefully help answer them.

“The more interaction we have the better. We want our audience to have a voice in the stories we produce,” Plowman said.

What kind of news does Subtext send out? For starters, anything that collaborative partners  create and post on their shared website, wichitajournalism.org.

Executive Editor Chris Green said that this includes community solutions, featured articles, mental health issues, transportation around Wichita, and coverage from the partners. Subtext also frequently includes a Monday morning light-hearted community discussion, run by a journalist within the collaborative.

Subtext works with every text-messaging app already installed on your phone. You can respond on the same chain of text messages. No account is necessary. You can sign-up on the WJC website at the Subtext sign-up at the bottom of the main page.

If you decide that Subtext isn’t for you, respond to the messages with ‘STOP’ and you will no longer receive any more news.

The collaborative hopes that Subtext will be an easy way to start conversations with Wichita journalists and receive local news content via text.

Green said the collaborative “hopes that the community will use Subtext as a way to develop a personal connection with the news and learn more about who is producing it and why it matters. It could also be useful for getting to know the journalists behind the daily news.”

Shaylee Gibbs, a student at Sterling College, is an intern for the Wichita Journalism Collaborative this semester.