See more of the story

Opinion editor's note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes a mix of national and local commentaries online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.


In the few months since I last wrote an update on the Star Tribune's plans for 2024, a lot has happened. News organizations around the country have gone through significant layoffs. Several media organizations and startups have shut down. Local journalism, in particular, is in crisis. All of this prompted the New Yorker to recently ask, "Is the Media ready for an extinction-level event?"

I don't think so. But at the Star Tribune, we're taking nothing for granted. The survival and growth of legacy media organizations was never inevitable. And we are not immune to the challenges our peers have faced across the country. In order to maintain the largest newsroom in the Midwest and serve Minnesota, we have to be swift, clear and brave in our transformation.

That's why we've started this year making a number of new investments that put us in an assertive position for growth. First, we've started with hiring great people. As I mentioned in my January update, we're expanding our reporting footprint across the state by hiring six additional reporters in Greater Minnesota, as well as a Greater Minnesota columnist. We've seen excellent applicants for all of these roles and are excited to make announcements soon.

We've also brought in some new leaders to help us chart our future. Mary Mayer, a Minnesota native who's moving back here from New York, will serve as our SVP of consumer growth, focused on leading our subscription growth. I'm excited for Minnesota to benefit from her experience in both publishing (The Daily Beast) and startups (Blue Apron) to help grow our business.

On Thursday, we announced that Scott Gillespie, the longtime editor of our Opinion section, is retiring in June. That means we're looking for a new Opinion editor, who will play a critical role in shaping the future of the Star Tribune. We're looking for a dynamic leader to expand our vibrant editorial and commentary sections — a key aspect of our service to the state.

To that end, we'll also have news soon on the hiring of a commentary and engagement director, whose job will include proactively soliciting compelling commentary pieces from a much broader group of Minnesotans across the geographic, political, and demographic spectrum. The goal is to make our opinion pages the most lively and important water cooler in the state.

And we're bringing on a new philanthropy leader, Melissa Wind, whose many years of experience will help us kick-start this new effort for the Star Tribune. We're positioning ourselves to benefit from philanthropic support for journalism — a growing movement and important aspect of any media business model today. More on that soon.

In addition to hiring, we're improving our infrastructure. In January, we transitioned to a new content management system. That move has laid the foundation for a re-imagination of our digital products — both our website and our mobile apps. You may have noticed recent hiccups in our technology; these are bumps on the road toward a complete overhaul of our product offering designed to serve audiences better. We're thrilled to be working with great partners at Code and Theory on this ongoing overhaul.

We're also engaging a nationally recognized local branding and design agency, Colle McVoy, to assist us in bringing fresh eyes to how we show up, and how we tell our story. We're committed to staying rooted in our 157-year-old legacy, while taking nothing for granted in how we present ourselves to new audiences. This is just one piece of the puzzle in our larger plans for growth.

You'll continue to see us try new things, like the exciting sports-betting effort we launched in February. Some of these new initiatives will work, and some will not. But charting new pathways for sustainability is essential to our future, and we're committed to trying new ways to sustain our journalism.

Other things remain the same. Print is an important part of our future, and we're leaning into that medium in moments that matter. Our special print section on the recent tragedy in Burnsville used journalism to highlight the service of our fallen heroes in a way that the print format uniquely can.

Above all, we're continuing to invest in quality journalism that distinguishes Minnesota. We recently won the Al Nakkula Award for Police Reporting, a prestigious national award in journalism, for our series, "What Happened to Heather Mayer?" The judges selected the Star Tribune team over several national competitors, calling the series, "A shining example of the power of local journalism."

How do you think we're doing? We'd love your feedback along the way, both here on our digital properties and in person. We've kicked off another series of listening sessions this month, designed to create opportunities for us to get feedback on our journey. Stay tuned for future sessions across Minnesota.

Our vision to create the leading model for local news in America will only succeed if we're in direct communication with you, our audience, to ensure we're providing the quality journalism that Minnesota deserves.

Star Tribune CEO and Publisher Steve Grove is at