The Startland News Team

Tommy Felts, Editor-in-Chief

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Tommy is editor-in-chief 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.

Channa Steinmetz, Senior 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.


Nikki Overfelt Chifalu, Reporter

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Nikki brings to Startland News both community journalism and entrepreneurship experience and she loves being able to tell the inspiring stories of fellow creatives and risk-takers.

Before joining Startland News, she worked for over 10 years writing and editing for daily newspapers in Lawrence, Topeka, Duluth, Minnesota, and Park Hills, Missouri. She took a short hiatus from journalism to pursue her dream of becoming a pastry chef and starting her own baking business.




Matthew Gwin, Reporter

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A firm believer in the power of storytelling, Matthew enjoys connecting with entrepreneurs, innovators, creatives, and community leaders from across Kansas City.

Matthew is proud to have been born and raised in Kansas City. Since graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Kansas, he’s worked for nonprofits, tech startups, and media organizations, most notably contributing to The Guardian’s Lost on the Frontline project.


Austin Barnes, Executive Editor

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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 lead the Startland News team and its strategic development.

Under Austin’s leadership, the publication has engaged more than 15,000 readers through its series of news engagement events.



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