YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio, Oct. 10, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Mahoning Matters, a digital-only news outlet serving Ohio's Mahoning Valley, launched today. The announcement was made by Mandy Jenkins, general manager of The Compass Experiment, a local news laboratory founded by McClatchy and funded by Google News Initiative's Local Experiments Project.
Mahoning Matters will focus on vital topics that impact the daily lives of Mahoning Valley residents -- how local government functions for underserved residents, the impact of business decisions on the economy and the effect of political and business corruption on the Valley's identity and future.
The Mahoning Valley is located in northeast Ohio, straddling the Pennsylvania border, with the city of Youngstown at its center.
The Mahoning Matters' editorial team is composed of four journalists who formerly worked at The Vindicator, Youngstown's daily newspaper that closed in August 2019. They include editor Mark Sweetwood, who spent more than a decade as the managing editor of The Vindicator; Justin Dennis, who has reported extensively on courts and government in Ohio and Pennsylvania; Jess Hardin, who worked at the U.S. Office of Special Counsel before joining The Vindicator as a reporter in 2018; and Jeremy Harper, who worked as a copyeditor and page designer for The Vindicator for more than 20 years.
"Our mission is to tell the local stories that aren't being told anywhere else in the Mahoning Valley," said Mark Sweetwood the digital news startup's editor. "We aren't following the media pack. We won't likely be chasing the latest crash that's on the noon news. Our goal is meaningful, original reporting about the people and topics that matter most to the Mahoning County area."
Subjects that will be covered in the first few weeks of operation include the local housing market, health access in underserved communities and the impact of climate change on Valley homeowners. Mahoning Matters will also post obituaries and Valley sports scores.
"The launch today of Mahoning Matters is an important first step to explore a sustainable business model for local news," said Mandy Jenkins. "The lessons we learn in the Mahoning Valley will be invaluable as we build our next sites--and hopefully will be applicable to the entire industry."
In determining potential locations for The Compass Experiment's digital-only local news sites, Jenkins and her team are looking at localities with 60,000 to 300,000 residents and limited sources of local news. Youngstown was selected as the first of these sites not only because of those criteria, but also due to its distinct local identity and loss of its daily newspaper.
Over the next several months, two new locations will be selected for the launch of digital-only news outlets by The Compass Experiment.
"We know that local journalism is vital to thriving communities, engaged citizens and a healthy democracy," said Craig Forman, President and CEO, McClatchy. "We are proud to partner with the Google News Initiative on The Compass Experiment to launch a new source of local news to Valley residents and congratulate the Mahoning Matters team on this important milestone for local journalism."
"The launch of Mahoning Matters underlines our commitment to collaborate with publishers on the problem of local news sustainability," said the Google News Initiative's Jim Albrecht. "We've been delighted by McClatchy's willingness to work with us in a transparent and rigorously experimental way--on this and other projects--and we look forward to reporting what we've learned back to the industry."
The Compass Experiment will span three years and share what works with the industry to scale successes.
McClatchy operates 30 media companies in 14 states, providing each of its communities with strong independent local journalism in the public interest and advertising services in a wide array of digital and print formats. McClatchy publishes iconic local brands including the Miami Herald, The Kansas City Star, The Sacramento Bee, The Charlotte Observer, The (Raleigh) News & Observer, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. McClatchy is headquartered in Sacramento, Calif., and listed on the New York Stock Exchange American under the symbol MNI. #ReadLocal
About the Google News InitiativeThe Google News Initiative is our effort to help journalism thrive in the digital age through evolving business models to drive sustainable growth, elevating quality journalism and empowering news organizations with new technology.