McClatchy, Google partner to launch local news outlets in underserved U.S. cities

McClatchy and Google are partnering on an experiment to operate pop-up digital news outlets in three underserved communities to explore new “sustainable business models” in local journalism.

Craig Forman, the CEO and president of McClatchy, which owns the Miami Herald and 28 other newspapers, authored a blog post on Tuesday announcing the partnership. The Compass Experiment is the first effort to emerge from the Google News Initiative Local Experiments Project, which also launched on Tuesday.

In his blog post, Forman said the project would bring three brand-new local news operations, each owned and run wholly by McClatchy, to a yet-to-be-announced trio of “small to mid-sized U.S. communities that don’t have access to significant local sources of news and information.”

Axios reports that the project team will select three cities with populations under about 500,000 people, and that Google intends to “fund dozens of new local news websites around the country and eventually around the world.”

Over the next three years, McClatchy will launch these newsrooms on multiple platforms and in collaboration with experts at Google.

The tech company will assist with financial support, but McClatchy will have full editorial control, Forman wrote.

“The Compass Experiment isn’t about making incremental improvement for local news,” Foreman writes. “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.”

This isn’t the first time Google and McClatchy worked on a seminal project together. Last year, the media company served as a launch partner for the Subscribe with Google initiative. The findings from The Compass Experiment will guide Google as it proceeds with other similar projects.

Forman said the locations of the planned news outlets, along with additional information, will be announced in the coming months.

“We are delighted to expand our collaboration with Google to explore new models for independent local news and information and share what we learn with the industry,” Forman said in a statement to the Miami Herald. “The Compass Experiment reflects our continuing commitment to local news and the communities we serve.”