Google News Initiative

McClatchy and Google partner on an experimental lab for local news

Editor’s note: The Google News Initiative is marking its first anniversary with a look at the collaborations and work that has taken place over the last year, as well as what’s planned for the coming year. One of the key programs we’re launching today is the GNI Local Experiments Project. The goal of the program will be testing new approaches in local business models to help the industry as a whole learn what works and what doesn’t. The first effort to emerge is with McClatchy and their Compass Experiment. The following post is by their President and CEO Craig Forman.

At this important time for local news, McClatchy is expanding its partnership with Google to explore and experiment with new sustainable business models for authoritative news and essential information to communities.

Today, we’re introducing The Compass Experiment, which will provide local news coverage to three small to mid-sized U.S. communities that don’t have access to significant local sources of news and information. The effort will be a part of the Local Experiments Project of the Google News Initiative.

Over the next three years, the McClatchy team will launch these new digital-only local news operations on multiple platforms, in collaboration with a team of experts at Google, which is helping support the effort financially. The sites will be 100 percent McClatchy owned and operated and McClatchy will maintain sole editorial control and ownership of the content. Google will have no input or involvement in any editorial efforts or decision making.

The Compass Experiment isn’t about making incremental improvement for local news. It’s about coming up with new approaches, and harnessing the expertise of both McClatchy and Google to create new models. While we don’t know what this will look like at the end of three years, we share a vision for the value and potential impact this collaborative work will have on the local media industry. Our two companies know each other well, having worked closely together over more than a decade—most notably when McClatchy played a key role as one of the launch partners for Subscribe with Google last year.

Our objective at McClatchy is to explore new models for independent local news and information. Google’s objective is to test the business models and operational aspects necessary to succeed in local news. Ultimately, those findings may lead to Google expanding its tools and services to enable other companies to do similar work.

Further details about the Compass Experiment (including locations) will be announced in the coming months. Over time, we’ll share what we’re learning through case studies that cover what’s worked and what’s scalable.

The importance of local journalism and its essential impact on local communities has never been more vital. McClatchy’s 162-year expertise in local news combined with Google’s expertise in technology will help create new paths. Today marks a meaningful step forward.