Star Tribune Media Co., Minnesota’s largest media company, today announced it has launched a joint initiative with Google to study news consumption among younger audiences, design youth-oriented news products, and increase classroom engagement with trustworthy sources of news.
Under the auspices of the Google News Initiative, Google will support an 18-month program to modernize and expand Star Tribune’s News in Education program, which provides curriculum and access to Star Tribune products for more than 300 Minnesota middle and high schools. As a key part of the initiative, Star Tribune will create a fellowship for an education audience specialist who will conduct primary field research, determine benchmarks, and spearhead the program.
The goals of the initiative are to:
- Assess current engagement with youth audiences and the impact of Star Tribune’s News in Education program
- Gain greater understanding of the needs of educators and future news consumers/subscribers
- Promote news literacy for young and diverse audiences
- Develop a roadmap for designing and testing youth-oriented digital news products for Minnesota schools
“Attracting and retaining engaged consumers is the key to sustainable local journalism,” said Jason Washing, Managing Director of News Partnerships at Google, “and that’s vital to the civic health of every community. We’re proud to partner with Star Tribune to address opportunities that will benefit educators, engage students, and encourage a new commitment to news literacy in the next generation.”
“Our industry recognizes that today’s students are going to participate in a fully digital information marketplace,” said Steve Yaeger, chief marketing officer for Star Tribune. “Thanks to this commitment from the Google News Initiative, we’re in a position to start to redefine the next generation’s relationship with news and journalism in an intentional, coordinated way. In an era where ‘fake news’ has dominated too much of the public conversation, this initiative underscores the importance of news literacy among young and diverse audiences in ways that more directly respond to their needs and preferences.”
Field research with educators and students will begin immediately, with testing of new digital products to begin in 2020. Google and Star Tribune will share learnings with peer/stakeholder organizations to enable successful deployments in other communities.
The Google partnership is one of several initiatives underway at Star Tribune to better understand and serve younger audiences. The company is currently testing subscriptions for college students on several Minnesota campuses, while its 2030 Project is an ongoing effort to engage young professionals in shaping the future of Star Tribune coverage and products.