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This summer, I got to know my neighbors a little better. I traveled to nine cities and the State Fair as part of a statewide listening tour to learn what people think about news in Minnesota and the Star Tribune. I met hundreds of Minnesotans at these roundtables, including a conversation we hosted last week at the State Fair.

I've also gotten to know my new colleagues better. I've job-shadowed journalists, spent a night at our printing plant and had countless conversations with the people who bring you the Star Tribune every day. They've taught me how this company works and what makes that work so special.

I've learned a lot, but if I had to boil it down to one insight, it would be this: We are lucky in Minnesota to have a tremendous group of committed people leading our state's newspaper and a community that is deeply invested in our success. These are huge advantages as we chart the course forward to strengthen our work for you.

Today, I'm even more optimistic about the Star Tribune — and about Minnesota's future — than when I started my job in April.

As we've begun planning for the next chapter in our journey, we've taken some time to reimagine our vision for the Star Tribune, as well as create a new mission statement that clearly states our intention: To build a better Minnesota by connecting us with the people, ideas and stories that strengthen our communities.

It may sound simple, but behind that mission is a lot of intention. To be a media company that can bring Minnesotans together, we need to cover more of the state, for the state. We need to look for commonalities and differences, and always stress the common good and a way forward that prioritizes making Minnesota a diverse and dynamic place where people want to live.

We need to be vigorously pro-Minnesota, using the tools of journalism to improve the lives of everyone here.

How we get there will be informed by our audience. On the tour, which included 20 listening sessions mostly this summer, we gleaned a lot of insights about what's working and what isn't working in journalism today.

It's clear that people want comprehensive, objective, fact-based news coverage of their communities and the state. The national trend of a lack of shared belief in what's true makes it harder for communities to work together. People told me they think Minnesota can be different and want to see the Star Tribune play a more vital role in providing high-quality journalism.

"The national media is tearing us apart — we want our local media to bring us together," was a theme I heard consistently across Minnesota. People aren't looking for positive news coverage to mask what's going on. Still, they told me time and again that a leading media source should not only help Minnesotans understand our challenges but also give them a sense of what's being done — or what can be done — about them.

Many of the loyal subscribers, skeptical nonsubscribers, civic and business leaders, college students, and other community members we convened on the listening tour shared that they wanted to see news organizations feel more like members of the community. To trust the news, you have to believe that newsrooms are working alongside you. If we as a news media outlet seem like an ivory tower, dispatching judgment without being in our communities, it's harder to trust us — or feel connected to the stories we share.

And, of course, everywhere we went we heard from people (particularly young people) that the Star Tribune must modernize how we reach audiences. That means embracing modern tools to connect readers in a much more intentional way.

To be sure, these themes present challenges. But they also offer great opportunity. Despite the headwinds in the media industry, the tailwinds in Minnesota are stronger than almost anywhere in the country. We've got the best civic participation rates in America. A strong sense of statewide identity. Professional and amateur sports that unify us. And cultural and economic assets that help Minnesota punch above its weight.

Most of all, we have each other. Minnesotans care deeply about the future of our state. And although we might not agree on everything, there's consensus that we need a news organization that connects us through the stories and ideas we share.

We believe we have a shot at creating the leading model for local news in America, driving innovation in media to make every Minnesotan's life better. If the New York Times or Wall Street Journal have built the model for national newspapers to thrive in a modern age, why not build that model for local and regional news in Minnesota?

We've already made changes, but in the coming months you'll hear more from us on how we plan to grow our value proposition for you and our state. We'll share details of our journey so that you can give us feedback along the way. And while it's a dynamic moment in media where so much is changing, our foundation is strong.

For 156 years, the Star Tribune has delivered quality journalism to Minnesota. We've won Pulitzer Prizes. We've told the stories that must be told, the stories you didn't know existed, and we've held our leaders accountable to guide us forward with integrity. That will never change.

We've also been a print publication for most of our history. Despite the digital transformation we're going through, we believe print is an important part of our offerings, and we'll continue to meet our audiences where they are.

How can you help? If you care about quality journalism and want the Midwest's largest newsroom to thrive, my ask is that you subscribe to the Star Tribune. Your support of our mission is something we're immensely grateful for, and without it we would not exist.

Quality journalism is a foundational part of a thriving democracy. We'll continue to seek your advice and support as we build the next chapter of an already-great Minnesota institution, committed to serving all Minnesotans at a time of exciting possibility.

Steve Grove is at