When James Chung released his initial findings, the stark reality of Wichita’s declining economic health reverberated across the community. For the past five years, The Chung Report has set out to keep the four challenges James identified top of mind, inform the public about gaps and the efforts being made to fix them, and unify Wichitans to not only care about our city’s future, but to also commit to being a part of the solution to the issues holding it back.
Since our inception, The Chung Report has published 176 stories, produced 36 videos and interviewed more than 250 people. We have cherished every opportunity to engage, inform and inspire. But it’s time for The Chung Report to end. Not because the four challenges of entrepreneurship, perception, business cycle and human capital have been resolved. Rather, we pass the torch to you and others in order to fan the flames and ignite new pockets of engagement.
But we’d be remiss if we didn’t share the insights we’ve gained and the observations we’ve made. Here are just a few of the things we’ve learned:
Kevin Costner is right – If you build it, they will come.
We didn’t know how The Chung Report would be received. But we knew how important it was to not let James Chung’s findings be swept aside. So we kept putting hyper-local stories that would eventually garner four million social media impressions and more than a quarter of a million web page views. We’re not saying this to toot our own horn. We’re saying it to showcase that if you meet people where they are and speak truthfully, you’ll find that you’re not alone.
You can’t fix what you don’t know is wrong.
James’ initial report provided a clear diagnosis of four challenges hindering the long-term economic health of Wichita. We took that diagnosis as our editorial framework and tried to build and sustain momentum. That clear diagnosis broke through barriers that we had previously experienced and helped to transcend political and cultural stumbling blocks. Those barriers are still present and problematic, but we did see different types of people with different ideas join in conversations. Our readership became very diverse primarily because our stories dug into the challenges and took us in many different directions. There was an inroad to our content for everyone. This all stemmed from a clear diagnosis.
Talk is cheap.
Which is why we deliberately ended every piece we created with a call to action. Our expectation wasn't only that folks would read our content, but also that they could take an action item away from it. Whether it was to vote or support a local business or take a tour of one of Wichita’s dozens of museums or hold your elected officials accountable, this took people beyond conversations of what we should be doing to how we should do it.
This stuff is hard.
These challenges are massive, the future is still uncertain, and creating movements that resonate can be exhausting. This can be said for any Wichitan dealing with adversity in their personal and professional life. Change won’t come overnight. But by taking it one step at a time, progress can be made.
Always fight, even in the city of flight.
The Air Capital of the World is worth fighting for. And it is far more diverse than our signature industry.
Diversity is crucial.
By tackling stories in different ways, visually and in explainer-type formats, we published stories that Wichitans could not find elsewhere. By amplifying meaningful work and finding new voices to speak on inclusion, tribalism, bigotry and education, we found diversity of thought. More and more, our lives are lived in silos. Being able to connect and empathize with those of different races, religions and ideologies is imperative for collective growth.
This community is hungry.
And not just for a #45 at Saigon. So many of the people whom we interviewed and interacted with have an insatiable appetite for improving Wichita. It’s inspiring.
Our favorite articles had one thing in common: They made us look inward to affect outward change.
Looking back, our content centered around government, civic engagement, the importance of arts, education and inclusion resonated with us the most. They became stories from which every citizen could glean insight, challenge themselves, grow, be introspective. Our editorial and coverage on James’ second round of findings was a cold splash of water in the faces of all Wichitans, ourselves included. It became a real rally cry to people who thought things were getting better and to those who had yet to take meaningful action to reverse the trajectory of the Wichita. These looks inside about what we could do better made a difference individually and as a community.
Continuing the fight.
We’ve seen firsthand the great work people have achieved over the last five years. But this battle is far from over. There are so many ways for each of us to contribute to help this city achieve greatness - volunteering, recruiting, voting, starting a business, running for office, pushing for equity and inclusion, etc. As for us, while we’re no longer publishing content, investing in Wichita is a top priority. It’s why we’re contributing to the News and Information Fund at the Wichita Community Foundation. And why we’ll remain advocates of progress.
It takes a village and there are so many people that deserve recognition for their impact on The Chung Report. Thank you to Wichita Community Foundation for Focus Forward, which brought James back to his hometown. Thank you to the Bastian family for recognizing the need to continue the conversation by underwriting The Chung Report. Thank you to the more than 250 participants who gave their time and energy to us.
Lastly, we want to thank the community for their support of The Chung Report. It’s been a project near and dear to everyone who has touched it. Since this is serving as our final report, we’d like to end - as we always do - with one last call to action. We have created a voicemail for you share your thoughts on Wichita, the hard truths you’ve learned over the past five years and your hopes/goals/ideas for the future of our city.
Leave us a message at 316-749-4520 and we’ll make sure your voice is heard.