Star Tribune

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For the Wyoming newspaper, see Casper Star-Tribune.
Star Tribune
Star Tribune Logo.svg
File:Star Tribune front page.png
The August 2, 2007 front page of the Star Tribune
Type Daily newspaper
Format Broadsheet
Owner(s) Star Tribune Media Company LLC (Glen Taylor)
Publisher Michael J. Klingensmith
Editor Rene Sanchez
Opinion editor Scott Gillespie
Founded 1867; 151 years ago (1867)
(as the Minneapolis Tribune)
1920; 98 years ago (1920)
(as the Minneapolis Daily Star)
Headquarters Star Tribune Building
650 3rd Ave S., Suite 1300
Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Circulation 288,315 Daily
581,063 Sunday[1]
OCLC number 43369847

The Star Tribune is the largest newspaper in the U.S. state of Minnesota. Its origins date to the founding of the Minneapolis Tribune in 1867 and the competing Minneapolis Daily Star in 1920. During the 1930s and 1940s, Minneapolis's competing newspapers were consolidated under a single owner with the Star as the city's morning newspaper and the Tribune as the evening newspaper. The two were merged in 1982 creating a single newspaper with the combined name of Star Tribune. After a tumultuous period where the newspaper was sold and re-sold and later forced to declare bankruptcy in 2009, it was purchased by local businessman Glen Taylor in 2014.

The Star Tribune is the major newspaper of Minneapolis, Minnesota and is also distributed throughout the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area, the state of Minnesota and the broader Upper Midwest. It typically contains a mixture of national, international and local news, sports, business and lifestyle content. Journalists from the Star Tribune and its predecessor newspapers have won six Peabody Awards including two in 2013. The newspaper's headquarters are located in Downtown Minneapolis.


Minneapolis Tribune

The earliest roots of today's Star Tribune date to the creation of the Minneapolis Daily Tribune by Colonel William S. King, William D. Washburn and Dorilus Morrison. The newspaper's first issue was published on May 25, 1867. The Tribune went through several different editors and publishers in its first two decades including John T. Gilman, George K. Shaw, Albert Shaw and Alden J. Blethen. In 1878, the Minneapolis Evening Journal began publishing and gave the newspaper its first serious competition. On November 30, 1889 the Tribune's headquarters building in Downtown Minneapolis caught fire. The fire killed 7 and injured 30 in addition to leaving the building and presses a complete loss.[2]:3, 10-14

In 1891, the newspaper was purchased by Gilbert A. Pierce and William J. Murphy for $450,000 (equivalent to $11,852,000 in 2018). Pierce quickly sold his share to Thomas Lowry who in turn sold it back to Murphy, leaving him the newspaper's sole owner. Murphy's background in business and as an attorney helped with managing the newspaper's debt and with modernizing its outdated printing equipment. The newspaper experimented with partial color printing and using halftone for photographs and portraits. In 1893, he sent the newspaper's first correspondent to Washington DC. As the city of Minneapolis grew, the newspaper's circulation expanded in kind with the Tribune and Evening Journal running in close competition and the smaller Minneapolis Times in third place. In 1905, Murphy bought out the Times and merged it with the Tribune.[2]:15-18

Murphy died in 1918, leaving an endowment to form a school of journalism at the University of Minnesota. After a brief transitional period his son, Fred Murphy, became publisher in 1921.[2]:23, 29

Minneapolis Daily Star

The other half of the newspaper's history begins with the Minnesota Daily Star, founded in 1920 by elements of the agrarian Nonpartisan League and backed by Thomas Van Lear and Herbert Gaston. The Daily Star had difficulty attracting advertisers with its overt political agenda and went bankrupt in 1924. It was purchased by A. B. Frizzell and John Thompson (a former executive at the New York Times) and reworked to be a politically independent newspaper.[2]:55-56[3]

Cowles era

John Cowles, Sr. (1898–1983)

In 1935, the Cowles family of Des Moines, Iowa purchased the Star. The family's father, Gardner Cowles, Sr., had purchased The Des Moines Register and the Des Moines Tribune in the 1900s and run them very successfully. Gardner's son John Cowles, Sr. relocated to Minneapolis to manage the Star. Under his leadership, it became the highest circulation newspaper in the city and put the city's other newspapers under pressure. In 1939, the Cowles family purchased the rival Journal and merged the two newspapers under the name Star-Journal. Fred Murphy, publisher of the Tribune, died in 1940. In 1941, The Cowles family bought out and merged the Tribune into their company giving them complete ownership of the city's major newspapers. The Tribune would be the city's morning newspaper, the Star-Journal (renamed to just Star in 1947) was the evening newspaper, and the two produced a shared Sunday edition. A separate evening newspaper called the Times was also spun off and produced until 1948.[2]:57-62[4]

In 1944, John Cowles, Sr. hired William P. Steven, a Wisconsin native and former editor of the Tulsa Tribune, as managing editor of the two papers. Steven was named vice president and executive editor in 1954. During his tenure in Minneapolis, he served one term as president of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association in 1949 and became first chairman of the organization's Continuing Study Committee. By August 1960, John Cowles, Jr. had been named vice president and associate editor of the two papers. It was soon apparent that he disapproved of Steven's hard-nosed approach to journalism. He told Steven that he would be the person clearing Steven's orders. When Steven balked, the younger Cowles fired him.[5][6]

After the ousting of Steven, Cowles Jr. served as the editor of the two newspapers (later becoming president in 1968 as well as editorial chairman in 1969). Cowles Jr. had a progressive political view and supported editorials related to the civil rights movement and other liberal causes.[7]

In 1982, the morning Tribune was discontinued due to low circulation. The staff of the Star and the Tribune were merged into a single newspaper called the Minneapolis Star and Tribune. Cowles Jr. also fired the newspaper's publisher, Donald R. Dwight. Cowles Jr.'s handling of Dwight's firing led to his ousting as the newspaper's editor in 1983 though his family retained a controlling interest in the newspaper.[7]

In 1983, the Star Tribune went before the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge a Minnesota tax on paper and ink. In Minneapolis Star Tribune Co. v. Commissioner, the court found that the tax targeting specific newspapers to be a violation of the First Amendment.[8]

In 1987, the name of the combined newspaper was simplified to the current form of Star Tribune and the slogan "Newspaper of the Twin Cities" was added.[4]

Recent history

In 1998, The McClatchy Company purchased Cowles Media Company for $1.4 billion, ending the newspaper's 61 year history in the Cowles family. The sale was one of the largest ever in the American newspaper industry. Many of Cowles's smaller assets were sold off, but McClatchy kept the Star Tribune. On December 26, 2006, McClatchy sold the paper to private-equity firm Avista Capital Partners for $530 million, less than half of what McClatchy paid for Cowles only 8 years earlier.[9][10]

In March 2007, Par Ridder was named publisher of the Star Tribune, after his predecessor, J. Keith Moyer, decided to leave the newspaper after the sale.[11] Ridder is a member of the Ridder family that had owned Knight Ridder, the publishers of several newspapers including the rival St. Paul Pioneer Press. Ridder's arrival resulted in considerable litigation when it was discovered that he had stolen a hard drive which contained information about employees and advertisers which the Pioneer Press characterized as "trade secrets". Ridder also took two high-ranking staff members with him to the Minneapolis paper, which raised eyebrows as the employees in these roles usually have non-compete clauses in their contracts. On September 18, 2007, Ridder was removed from his new post by a Ramsey County judge.[12][13][14] Ridder formally resigned on December 7, 2007.[15]

On January 15, 2009, as the nation's 15th largest daily paper, the paper filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.[16][17][18][19] On September 17, 2009, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York approved a bankruptcy plan for the paper which saw it emerge from bankruptcy protection on September 28. The paper’s senior secured lenders took hold of approximately 95 percent of the stock in the post-bankruptcy company.[20]

In August 2012, Wayzata Investment Partners became the majority owner of The Star Tribune Company, with a 58% stake.[21]

In 2014, The Star Tribune Company was acquired by Glen Taylor. Taylor stated that the Star Tribune would be less liberal under his ownership, but that the newspaper had already begun a shift. He said he would focus the newspaper on accurately reporting both sides of all issues.[22][23]

In May 2015, The Star Tribune Company acquired City Pages, an alternative weekly, from Voice Media Group.[24]


After the formation of the combined Star Tribune in 1987, the newspaper was printed in three separate editions: one for Minneapolis and the western suburbs, one for St. Paul and the eastern suburbs, and a state edition for the broader state and Midwest. The St. Paul edition was discontinued in 1999 in favor of publishing one metro edition for the Minneapolis–Saint Paul area and the state edition for areas outside the metro.[25][26]

While the newspaper competes somewhat with the Saint Paul-based Pioneer Press within the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area, the Star Tribune tends to be more prominent on the western side of the metro while the Pioneer Press is more prominent on the eastern side. The two newspapers also share some printing and delivery operations with one another.[27][28]

The Star Tribune first created an online presence in 1995 and launched the website in 1996. In 2011, the newspaper began a paywall model for their website.[4][29]


The Star Tribune has five main sections: Main News, Local News, Sports, Business and Variety (lifestyle and entertainment). Weekly special sections include Taste (restaurants and cooking), Travel, Outdoors Weekend and Science + Health. The Sunday edition includes a larger editorial and opinion section called Opinion Exchange. The Wednesday edition includes an extra section focusing on local news and issues with different versions produced for the north, south, northwest and southwest regions of the newspaper's circulation area.[1]


Journalists with the pre-merger Minneapolis Star and Minneapolis Tribune won three Pulitzer Prizes:

Since the creation of the merged Star Tribune, the newspaper has won an additional three Pulitzer Prizes:

  • 1990: Lou Kilzer and Chris Ison, Investigative Reporting[33]
  • 2013: Steve Sack, Editorial Cartooning[34]
  • 2013: Brad Schrade, Jeremy Olson and Glenn Howatt, Local Reporting[35]

Staff and management

Notable columnists affiliated with the Star Tribune include:

Michael J. Klingensmith is publisher and CEO of Star Tribune Media Company LLC with overall responsibility for all news and business operations of the company. He was hired in 2010.[15]

Having emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the newspaper’s former ownership group, led by New York City-based Avista Capital Partners, has no stake in the company.[20]


Through 2015, the Star Tribune headquarters in the Downtown East neighborhood of Minneapolis

After the city's newspapers were consolidated by the Cowles family, their offices were gradually moved into what was formerly the Daily Star's headquarters in Downtown Minneapolis. The building was renovated in 1939-1940, then further expanded in a much larger renovation from 1946-1949. After 1949, the building housed the offices and presses of both the Star and Tribune. In the 1980s, an annex called the Freeman Building was built across the street from the existing headquarters and connected to it via a skyway.[36][37]

In 2014, the company announced it would be relocating its offices from its 95 year old headquarters building to Capella Tower to make way for development surrounding the nearby U.S. Bank Stadium. Demolition of the company's buildings began in 2014 with the final employees relocating in mid 2015 and the final demolition work completed later that year.[38][39]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "2016 Display Rate Book" (PDF). Star Tribune. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Morison, Bradley (1966). Sunlight on Your Doorstep: The Minneapolis Tribune's First Hundred Years. Minneapolis: Ross & Haines Inc. 
  3. Nathanson, Iric. "'Newspaper with a soul': The short-lived Minnesota Daily Star launched in 1920". MinnPost. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Timeline: A look at history of Star Tribune". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. 
  5. "Minneapolis Man Gets Houston Post". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. September 20, 1960. p. 39. Retrieved June 14, 2014. 
  6. "The Press: Let History Try". Time. August 29, 1960. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Royce, Gradon (19 March 2012). "Publisher John Cowles Jr., who shaped the Twin Cities for 50 years, dies". Minneapolis Star Tribune. 
  8. "Minneapolis Star & Tribune Company v. Minnesota Commissioner of Revenue". Oyez. 
  9. "McClatchy in $1.4 Billion Cowles Deal". The New York Times. 14 November 1997. 
  10. Ellison, Sarah (December 26, 2006). "McClatchy's Minneapolis Sale Aids Web Efforts". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 14, 2014. 
  11. McKinney, Matt (March 5, 2007). "Par Ridder named Star Tribune CEO, publisher". Star Tribune. Retrieved June 4, 2008. 
  12. Stawicki, Elizabeth (September 18, 2007). "Judge critical of Par Ridder's conduct in ruling". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved June 14, 2014. 
  13. Welbes, John (February 1, 2008). "Star Tribune to put headquarters, other land up for sale". Pioneer Press. Retrieved February 1, 2008. 
  14. Orrick, Natasha R. (February 1, 2008). "Star Tribune trying to sell headquarters". Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal. American City Business Journals. Retrieved February 1, 2008. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Star Tribune names Klingensmith as new publisher". Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal. American City Business Journals. January 7, 2010. Retrieved June 14, 2014. 
  16. Schmickle, Sharon (January 15, 2009). "Star Tribune files for bankruptcy and lists unsecured creditors". MinnPost. Retrieved June 14, 2014. 
  17. Kary, Tiffany (January 16, 2009). "Star Tribune Files for Bankruptcy After Ads Decline". Bloomberg News. Retrieved June 14, 2014. 
  18. Fitzgerald, Mark (January 16, 2009). "Economist: Avista Has Only Itself To Blame In 'Strib' Bankruptcy". Editor & Publisher. Retrieved June 14, 2014. 
  19. Pérez-Peña, Richard (January 6, 2009). "Bankruptcy for another U.S. paper". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved June 14, 2014. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 Newmarker, Chris (September 17, 2009). "Star Tribune to emerge from bankruptcy, no new publisher named". Milwaukee Business Journal. American City Business Journals. Retrieved June 14, 2014. 
  21. Phelps, David (August 12, 2012). "Star Tribune gains a majority owner". Star Tribune. Retrieved June 14, 2014. 
  22. Bjorhus, Jennifer (April 2, 2014). "Wolves owner Glen Taylor makes cash offer to buy Star Tribune". Star Tribune. Retrieved June 14, 2014. 
  23. Robson, Britt (April 16, 2015). "New owner Glen Taylor: less liberal Star Tribune ahead". MinnPost. Retrieved March 7, 2015. 
  24. Yuen, Laura (2015-05-06). "Star Tribune says it will buy City Pages". Minnesota Public Radio News. Retrieved 2015-05-16. 
  25. McGuire, Tim (12 December 1999). "Newspaper aims to serve the entire metro area, not pieces of it". Minneapolis Star Tribune. 
  26. Desky, Mark (July 27, 1987). "Twin Cities Paper Changes Name, Distribution". AdWeek: 43. 
  27. Brauer, David. "Mapping the newspaper war, 25 years after the Star Tribune invaded Pioneer Press turf". MinnPost. 
  28. Collins, Bob. "Combining delivery, PiPress and Strib get cozier". Minnesota Public Radio. 
  29. Brauer, David. "Strib metered pay wall: Web traffic down 10-15 percent, revenue up". MinnPost. 
  30. "1948 Winners". The Pulitzer Prizes. 
  31. "1959 Winners". The Pulitzer Prizes. 
  32. "1968 Winners". The Pulitzer Prizes. 
  33. "1990 Winners and Finalists". The Pulitzer Prizes. 
  34. "The 2013 Pulitzer Prize Winners: Editorial Cartooning". The Pulitzer Prizes. 
  35. "The 2013 Pulitzer Prize Winners: Local Reporting". The Pulitzer Prizes. 
  36. "A Eulogy: The Minneapolis Star-Tribune Building". Hennepin County Library Special Collections Tumblr. 
  37. Lileks, James (21 March 2015). "Streetscapes: Star Tribune is last of Minneapolis newspaper buildings". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. 
  38. Moore, Janet (13 May 2014). "Star Tribune to move headquarters to Capella Tower in 2015". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. 
  39. "Star Tribune staff says goodbye to old building". MPR News. 

External links