On Monday The Tennessee Star celebrates its fifth anniversary.
Shortly after midnight, after The Star’s first full day in 2017, Managing Editor Christina Botteri noted the news outlet had more than 3,000 unique visitors.
“The remarkable thing about our traffic on launch day,” she said at the time, “is that each visitor came back and visited different stories on the site several times during the day.” The total number of pageviews was well over 9,000 that inaugural day, she said.
Across Middle Tennessee, conservatives who had not had a reliable media outlet cheered the arrival of The Star. The outlet provided a marked contrast to the editorial voice of the dominant left-leaning newspapers in the Middle Tennessee area.
Over the course of the following months, traffic skyrocketed – as well as interest from readers in nearby states who wanted to know when they would “get a Star” for their state.
“When we first launched, I thought we would gain a strong following in Tennessee – and maybe some readers in Kentucky, Arkansas, and Georgia,” Botteri recalled. “But what we found very quickly was that The Tennessee Star gained a large readership from across the country and the globe.”
The company says its analytics showed early on in 2017 – and continues to show, now – a strong and growing readership from states like California and Illinois, as well as from Texas and North Carolina. “We even have a die-hard fan base in Australia,” Botteri said.
In April 2017, the fledgling news site announced a unique editorial series of articles about the United States Constitution dubbed, “The Constitution Series.” The series would culminate five months later in September into a first-of-its-kind Constitution Bee event for secondary school students.
By May of that year, The Star announced that its online news site had had one million visits.
Meanwhile, the “Constitution Series,” co-authored by The Tennessee Star’s CEO and Editor-in-Chief Michael Patrick Leahy, Claudia Henneberry, and John Harris was developed into a supplementary textbook titled, The Guide to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights for Secondary School Students.
Since then, the Constitution Bee event has become the cornerstone project for The Star News Education Foundation, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit corporation founded in December 2019 by Leahy and Botteri. The Foundation’s mission is “to strengthen the United States of America by improving public understanding of and support for key constitutional principles through education and journalism programs delivered to K-12 students and schools, college students, and the public at large,” its website states.
By February 7, 2018, The Star’s one-year anniversary, the site received more than five million visits.
Six months later in August 2018, The Tennessee Star launched The Ohio Star, and with the new venture, the two news outlets were acquired by Star News Digital Media – the majority shareholders of which are CEO and Editor-in-Chief Michael Patrick Leahy and CTO and Executive Editor Christina Botteri.
The Tennessee Star expanded into radio a month later in September 2018 with The Tennessee Star Report, broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. Central Time.
Now, five years after The Tennessee Star’s launch, the company has formed other state-based news sites, expanding its reach beyond Tennessee and Ohio, and into Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The company also developed The Star News Network website, optimized for mobile devices, for readers who want to follow all Star News articles.
Beginning in December 2020, The Star News Network broke several stories at The Georgia Star News exposing election irregularities regarding the handling of absentee ballots there. Former President Donald J. Trump recognized the groundbreaking analysis by Laura Baigert in a June 2021 statement.
In late 2021, the company welcomed reporting powerhouse Neil W. McCabe as its National Political Editor. McCabe is known for his honed investigative style and broad knowledge of the Capitol and its intrigue.
Most recently, Susan Berry, PhD joined The Star News Network as its National Education Editor. Berry has a well earned reputation as one of the nation’s top journalists covering education and pro-life issues.
Editor-in-Chief Michael Patrick Leahy said, “As the critical 2022 elections approach, the Biden administration continues to flounder, and threats against Americans and the American Way loom, The Star News Network and our outstanding journalists will be there the cover – and uncover – the state and local news that matters most.”
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