McClatchy announced today the selection of Youngstown, Ohio, as the launch city for The Compass Experiment — an initiative in association with Google to develop essential and sustainable local digital news models.
“When we heard that Youngstown’s daily newspaper, The Vindicator, would be closing, we saw an opportunity to help a community with a rich heritage and distinct identity find a path forward for local news,” said Mandy Jenkins, general manager of The Compass Experiment. “We are on the ground now working with people in the community to set up a digital news outlet that will launch in the fall.”
Jenkins is recruiting a team in Youngstown to staff the startup and is hoping to collaborate with local, regional and national news outlets that have committed to help Youngstown in the wake of the anticipated closing of The Vindy. Jenkins describes the effort in a blog published today on The Compass Experiment Medium page and Google’s The Keyword blog.
Over the next several months, McClatchy will select two more communities where The Compass Experiment will launch digital-only local news operations on multiple digital platforms. It will test different models and share what works with the industry to scale successful approaches.
“There has been much impassioned commentary about the closure of The Vindy after 150 years and we are pleased to play our part alongside McClatchy in helping local journalism develop new approaches for the future,” said Richard Gingras, VP of News at Google. “Through the Google News Initiative’s Local Experiments Project we want to explore evolving business models in local news that can benefit not only the people of Youngstown, but communities across the country.”
“We are honored to serve the Youngstown community, a significant American city in transition for the 21st century,” said Craig Forman, President and CEO of McClatchy. “Local journalism is essential and strengthens communities in many vital ways and with more than 160 years of experience delivering reliable and independent local news, McClatchy is eager to find a sustainable model for local news in Youngstown.” He added, “We’re grateful to have the partnership of the Google News Initiative in this effort and we hope the news startup we build in Youngstown will serve as a model to help other communities in need of a strong local news and information provider.”
McClatchy has full editorial control and ownership of the news outlets launched as part of The Compass Experiment.