Curious Wichita

Curious Wichita wants to answer your questions

The Wichita Eagle

What would it take to bring back Wichita State football?

What type of cuisine does Wichita do better than other cities?

How much money can someone make panhandling in downtown Wichita?

We know you’re curious. We want you to tell us what you are curious about.

Today, The Wichita Eagle is launching Curious Wichita.

It works like this. Readers submit questions to us. Then readers will vote on which questions The Eagle should investigate.

If your question is chosen by readers, we will contact you. If you wish, you can go along with the reporter as he or she investigates.

Q. Why is The Eagle doing this?

A. Some of the best story ideas come from our readers. You know things we don’t know. You have experiences we don’t have. But mainly, we want to spend our time investigating what matters most to our readers.

Q. What types of questions will you answer?

A. Just about anything from whimsical to serious. Ask us about something you see going on in Wichita that you wonder about. Ask about something serious that you feel needs to be investigated.

Q. Who will answer?

A. For starters, we have four beat reporters who will field questions in their areas of expertise.

They are:

▪ Denise Neil, who covers restaurants and writes the Dining With Denise blog and Facebook page, which has thousands of followers. She joined The Eagle in 1997 and wrote her first restaurant review in October 2000. Denise, who also loves to cook, grew up in Dodge City and earned a journalism degree from the University of Kansas.

Ask her about Wichita restaurants: Why do so many serve hummus? Who serves great bar food? Who’s the best chef? Or why can’t those doughnut shops just get along?

▪ Oliver Morrison, a University of Oxford graduate who taught in rural Arkansas for seven years before deciding to become a journalist. He earned a master’s degree from City University of New York and joined The Eagle last May.

You can ask him anything: What is the quietest spot in the city of Wichita? What is the most expensive piece of property in Wichita, by square foot? What food dish in Wichita has the most calories? What spot in Wichita do the most people pass by every day? How many planes have been built in Wichita? What is the largest jury verdict ever reached in Sedgwick County?

You get the idea. Oliver is up for any challenge.

▪  Bryan Lowry, The Eagle’s Topeka Bureau reporter. He has a a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and has covered the Statehouse since 2014. He got a tip last year that government officials were conducting public business with private e-mail. His reporting – about 20 stories in total – led the Legislature to strengthen the Kansas Open Records Act and close the private e-mail loophole.

Ask him anything about state government: the decisions, the politics, the spending, the services.

▪  Paul Suellentrop, who has covered Wichita State athletics for 10 years. He’s a graduate of Kapaun Mount Carmel and Benedictine College and previously was sports editor at the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press. He also appreciates a good pick-and-roll more than anyone who’s not a basketball coach.

Ask him anything about the Shockers: how basketball reloads in the post-Baker/VanVleet era, how baseball tries to right itself, is a return of football really something WSU is studying?

Q. What if my question doesn’t fit into one of those four categories?

A. Other Eagle reporters will jump in, depending on the question. Dion Lefler and Daniel Salazar can investigate local government. Beccy Tanner can talk about history. Stan Finger can answer weather-related questions. The business staff – Carrie Rengers, Dan Voorhis, Jerry Siebenmark and Bryan Horwath – can answer questions about aviation, job hunting, economic development and retail. We have 55 journalists in our newsroom ready to tackle your questions.

Q. Will you answer everything?

A. No. We will weed out some of the unanswerable or inappropriate questions. Then readers will vote on which questions we answer.

Q. If my question is chosen, do I have to meet with the reporter?

A. That’s up to you. You don’t have to talk with us. If you want, we can explain to you how we will go about answering your question. Or you can have the full journalism experience and go with us as we search for records and interview people.

Q. How long will it take?

A. It depends on the question. Some can be answered in less than an hour. Some will take months. (Don’t worry, we don’t expect you to spend months with us, but we will keep you informed as we go about the investigation.)

Q. Do other media companies do this?

A. Yes. There’s Bay Curious by KQED Public Media in San Francisco. WBEZ’s radio station in Chicago has Curious City, and the Chicago Tribune has Blue Sky aimed at the tech industry. About 50 newsrooms are asking their communities to help them create relevant stories.

Q. How do I start?

A. Go to kansas.com/curious and submit a question.

Q. Do I have to give my name?

A. You may remain anonymous if you wish. However, if you want to join in as we report on your question, we will need to know who you are, and we think other readers will want to know your name.

Q. Is there someone I can talk to about Curious Wichita?

A. Contact Jean Hays, investigations editor, at 316-268-6557 or jhays@wichitaeagle.com.

 
 
 
 
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