Google, major media company plans news 'experiment' in Valley - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

The move comes amid plans to close Vindy

Google, major media company plans news 'experiment' in Valley

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SACRAMENTO, Cal. -

A company that publishes the Miami Herald, Kansas City Star and other major market newspapers has announced an effort to help keep people in the Valley informed when The Vindicator ceases publication later this summer.

McClatchy has announced the selection of Youngstown as the launch city for “The Compass Experiment,” which is an initiative in association with Google to develop what McClatchy says is essential and sustainable local digital news models.

The Vindicator announced last month that it would close operations at the end of August after failing to find a buyer for the paper.

"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 Vindicator.

"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."

Over the next several months, McClatchy says it 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.

"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," said Craig Forman, President, and CEO of McClatchy.

McClatchy says it has full editorial control and ownership of the news outlets launched as part of The Compass Experiment.

McClatchy operates 30 media companies in 14 states in digital and print formats. McClatchy publishes newspapers including the Miami Herald, The Kansas City Star, The Sacramento Bee, The Charlotte Observer, The (Raleigh) News & Observer, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

At a recent community forum on the pending loss of The Vindicator, WFMJ TV Managing Editor Justin Mitchell announced that the station is already in the process of expanding its digital presence, and plans to accelerate that process.

Independent, non-profit, investigative news outlet Pro Publica announced it is expanding its local reporting network to include Youngstown.

The Warren-based Tribune Chronicle said it intends to revive its Mahoning County edition to cover news, sports, and other events.

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