The Startland News Team

Tommy Felts, News Director

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Tommy is the news director for Startland News, a Kansas City-based nonprofit newsroom that uses storytelling to elevate the region’s startup community of entrepreneurs, innovators, hustlers, creatives and risk-takers.

Under Tommy’s leadership, Startland News has expanded its coverage from a primarily high-tech, high-growth focus to a more wide-ranging and inclusive look at the faces of entrepreneurism, innovation and business.

Before joining Startland News in 2017, Tommy worked for 12 years as an award-winning newspaper journalist, designer, editor and publisher. He was named one of Editor & Publisher magazine’s top “25 Under 35” in 2014.

Austin Barnes, Lead Reporter and Programming Director

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An experienced multimedia journalist, Austin taps into his reporting and production experience at the local, regional and national levels of broadcast news to cover KC’s emerging startup, entrepreneur and innovation scene.

As the programming director for Startland News, Austin also plays a lead role in logistical planning for Startland News events, as well as experiences produced for STARTLAND, the parent organization of Startland News.

A connoisseur of coffee, reality television, good music, and (grain-free, refined sugar-free, dairy-free) cookies, Austin committed to a life of storytelling in the 7th grade.

Channa Steinmetz, Reporter

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Passionate about connecting with others and exploring new places, Channa sees reporting with Startland News as an intimate way to learn about the creative culture and locals of Kansas City.

Prior to joining the Startland News team, Channa earned a degree in journalism and sustainability from Pepperdine University in California. There, she worked on the university’s newspaper The Graphic and developed her skills in writing, photography, social media and editing.

Channa’s favorite aspect of journalism is that no two days and no two stories look quite alike.

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