Alumnus Spotlight: Steve Yaeger

Steve Yaeger

1988 graduate working as Star Tribune chief marketing officer

Steve Yaeger, 52, graduated from Inver Hills Community College more than three decades ago in 1988. For perspective, 1988 was the year Rain Man took home the Academy Award for Best Picture, Whitney Houston, George Harrison and Michael Jackson topped the popular music charts, the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA Finals, and the Soviet Union agreed to withdraw 120,000 troops from Afghanistan.

Steve earned an Associate of Arts (A.A.) at Inver Hills, where he played forward on the college’s varsity basketball team. He reported that he had a wonderful experience playing for the Giants. The college discontinued competing in NJCAA sports following the 1988–1989 season. Steve also worked on the Inver Hills student newspaper.

“I had no ‘plan’ when I graduated high school,” he said. “Inver Hills offered a chance to gain broad exposure to subjects, get my bearings, experience college life, and save money while still making progress toward a four-year degree.”

The A.A. is a transfer degree that allowed Steve to continue his education at St. Olaf College, a private liberal arts college in Northfield, Minnesota. He majored in English and Latin at St. Olaf, graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in 1990. He played varsity basketball for the Oles and belonged to Phi Beta Kappa and Eta Sigma Phi.

Steve sharpened his editing, writing and marketing skills at Thomson Reuters, first as an editor at West Publishing and later as a senior corporate communications representative at West Group. He continued his career by taking on director of marketing roles at Adaytum, a software company, and Cognos, a business intelligence provider, before co-founding Aspyrion, a marketing consulting agency, in 2004.

Seven years later in May 2011, Steve arrived at Star Tribune, the largest news organization in Minnesota, serving as vice president of marketing and public relations. Steve’s strategic brand management and marketing expertise quickly helped bring recognition to the paper, including “Hottest Newspaper” from Adweek, “Publisher of the Year” from Editor & Publisher magazine, and “Business of the Year” from the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce.

Today, Steve Yaeger is Star Tribune’s senior vice president of circulation and chief marketing officer, or CMO. Steve’s duties are focused on the company’s digital subscription growth, newspaper home-delivery distribution, retail sales, customer service and fleet operations. He is also in charge of PR, consumer marketing and brand oversight.

More about Star Tribune

Our Heritage¹

Since its first day as the Minneapolis Tribune in 1867, Star Tribune has grown to become much more than just a newspaper. Today, Star Tribune is Minnesota’s most-trusted source for news and information reaching more Minnesotans than any other local media brand.

Star Tribune: A 150-year history of Minnesota’s most-important newspaper.

Minneapolis Tribune issued its first newspaper on May 25, 1867, just a few months after Minneapolis received its city charter.

The Tribune’s early years were full of momentous transformation. The paper went through six ownership changes in its first 24 years and several different editors.

The next half-century was more stable. The new era began in March 1891 when Gilbert A Pierce and William J. Murphy purchased the Tribune from Publisher Alden J. Blethen for $450,000.


More about Steve…

Steve and daughter Hannah

Originally from South St. Paul, Minnesota, Steve graduated from St. Croix Lutheran High School, class of 1986. Steve has been married 20 years to his wife Sara, a museum consultant. Steve and Sara have three children, one son, Carl, 18, and two daughters, Julia, 16, and Hannah, 13.

The family has one dog, a rescue mutt named Scout, and one rescue cat named Frisbee.

In his free time, Steve enjoys collecting vinyl records from from every era and genre of music. He is a Richard Nixon and Watergate enthusiast; he is also interested in the history of comics and cartooning. Steve and his family reside in Eagan, Minnesota.

More about the Associate of Arts (A.A.) at Inver Hills…

The college’s #1 transfer degree

The Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree is an ideal choice if you plan on transferring to a four-year college or university. You will save money and have the added advantage of working one on one with your instructors.

A.A. Program Planning Guide

The A.A. degree is 60 credits and contains three parts:

Associate of Arts (A.A.) with Emphasis

The Associate of Arts (A.A.) with Emphasis allows you to thoroughly prepare yourself for your chosen major at corresponding bachelor’s degree programs at several public and private four-year colleges and universities. We strongly recommend that you work with an Inver Hills counselor or advisor when making your transfer plans.

Emphasis areas

Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC)


Steve Yaeger Q & A

Steve Yaeger

Why should students work hard to improve their writing skills?
Fairly or unfairly, others—teachers, managers, colleagues, customers and clients—will judge you by the quality of your writing. All your writing—tests, emails, texts, reports, presentations. Good writing forces you to organize your thoughts. And in the real world, even one seemingly dominated by audio-video media, most persuasion depends upon solid writing.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job as a chief marketing officer for a regional media company?
Keeping a team focused. Ours is a fast-moving business, and one that is under great competitive pressure. We have to innovate to stay ahead—but not get distracted by unproductive ideas. Communicating priorities and holding people accountable is key.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job as a chief marketing officer for a news organization?
We make a difference in people’s lives. Our public-service mission involves shining a light on inequity and injustice, and on holding public officials and the powerful accountable. Very often through our newsroom’s work, wrongs are exposed, laws are changed, justice is served, and the cause of citizenship is advanced. And yes, people are also edified and entertained.

Three words that describe you as a marketing professional:

What is the smartest way for people to consume news in the age of social media?
What’s most important is that consumers get their news from a variety of credible, fact-based sources—including Star Tribune, of course. As far as what format is best, it depends on the consumer.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul market is number-one in the country for newspaper readership—print or digital. People here want to be well informed, and we are happy to satisfy that need in whatever way works best for them—with a newspaper, via a mobile device, with email and alerts, or a combination of all of these.

Who is your favorite news correspondent and why?
My favorite news correspondent is Nina Totenberg, the legal affairs correspondent for National Public Radio. She reports primarily on happenings at the U.S. Supreme Court, which is a subject of great interest to me. She has been there since 1977, where one of her first important stories involved secret deliberations of the Court regarding three defendants in the Watergate affair, another interest of mine.

Nina Totenberg

What advice would you give students thinking about a career in mass communication?
First, never stop working on your writing. No matter what your role in communications, everything depends on your ability to organize your thoughts and express yourself in words, written or spoken. Second, recognize that business models in communications are changing. Large mass-media companies, while still influential, are losing their grip on the public conversation.

Many smaller, digital-only brands are doing fantastic work but struggling to achieve business success. And brand owners—think sports teams, consumer goods, even civic and non-profit entities—no longer need intermediaries to tell their stories. Today everyone is a publisher, or can be. So broaden your view of “mass communications” to uncover the full spectrum of career opportunities. And never hesitate to take on a role in which you can be productive. Nothing improves the skill of a communicator more than work, work, work.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
I never think that far ahead. It takes the focus off the present. And in any event, the odds of any vision from today becoming reality 20 years hence are infinitesimal. Life is too unpredictable.

One word that best describes your experience at Inver Hills:


Steve Yaeger 12 Answers

Steve at Star Tribune
  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: Basketball
  2. Place you would most like to visit: The Scottish highlands
  3. The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Most recently our family hiked to the top of Grinnell Glacier in Glacier National Park.
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Throw all my ties away 2) Drive a 1955 Studebaker President 3) Endow a scholarship at Inver Hills
  5. Favorite TV show you’re watching now: I am working my way through a DVD boxed set of The Fugitive, my favorite 1960s drama.
  6. Best movie you’ve seen lately: My Darling Clementine, a 1946 Western directed by John Ford. It established the template for the Hollywood western for the next 20 years.
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Already accomplished it: raising three smart, thoughtful kids
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: The bald eagle, of course! You can’t do better.
  9. Dream occupation: I’m doing it!
  10. Person you would most like to meet: Tom Hanks
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: I would like to learn to play cricket.
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: A lack of kindness and focus on others outside ourselves. All other problems flow from that.
Learn more about earning an Associate of Arts (A.A.) at Inver Hills by contacting:

Admissions Team
College Center

Learn more about Communication Studies at Inver Hills by contacting:

Shiloh Gideon-Sjostrom
Communication Studies Faculty

¹ Courtesy of Star Tribune

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