The Toronto Star is a Canadian broadsheet daily newspaper. It is Canada's highest-circulation newspaper on overall weekly circulation; although it is a close second to The Globe and Mail in daily circulation on weekdays and Saturdays, it overtakes the Globe in weekly circulation because it publishes a Sunday edition while the Globe does not. It is owned by Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd., a division of Star Media Group, a subsidiary of Torstar Corporation.
The Star (originally known as the Evening Star and then the Toronto Daily Star) was created in 1892 by striking Toronto News printers and writers, led by future Mayor of Toronto and social reformer Horatio Clarence Hocken, who became the newspaper's founder, along with another future mayor, Jimmy Simpson.
The Star was first printed on Toronto World presses, and at its formation The World owned a 51% interest in it as a silent partner. That arrangement only lasted for two months, during which time it was rumoured that William Findlay "Billy" Maclean, the World's proprietor, was considering selling the Star to the Riordon family. After an extensive fundraising campaign among the Star staff, Maclean agreed to sell his interest to Hocken.
The paper did poorly in its first few years. Hocken sold out within the year, and several owners followed in succession until Sir William Mackenzie bought it in 1896. Its new editors, Edmund E. Sheppard and Frederic Nicholls, moved the entire Star operation into the same building used by the magazine Saturday Night. This would continue until Joseph E. "Holy Joe" Atkinson, backed by funds raised by supporters of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, bought the paper. The supporters included Senator George Cox, William Mulock, Peter Charles Larkin and Timothy Eaton.
Atkinson was the Star's editor from 1899 until his death in 1948. Its early opposition and criticism of the Nazi regime saw the paper become one of the first North American papers to be banned in Germany.
Atkinson had a social conscience. He championed many causes that would come to be associated with the modern welfare state: old age pensions, unemployment insurance, and health care. The Government of Canada Digital Collections website describes Atkinson as "a 'radical' in the best sense of that term.... The Star was unique among North American newspapers in its consistent, ongoing advocacy of the interests of ordinary people. The friendship of Atkinson, the publisher, with Mackenzie King, the prime minister, was a major influence on the development of Canadian social policy."
Atkinson became the controlling shareholder of the Star. The Star was frequently criticized for practising the yellow journalism of its era. For decades, the paper included heavy doses of crime and sensationalism, along with advocating social change. From 1910 to 1973, the Star published a weekend supplement, the Star Weekly.
Shortly before his death in 1948, Joseph E. Atkinson transferred ownership of the paper to a charitable organization given the mandate of continuing the paper's liberal tradition. In 1949, the Province of Ontario passed the Charitable Gifts Act, barring charitable organizations from owning large parts of profit-making businesses, that effectively required the Star to be sold.
Atkinson's will had directed that profits from the paper's operations were "for the promotion and maintenance of social, scientific and economic reforms which are charitable in nature, for the benefit of the people of the province of Ontario" and it stipulated that the paper could be sold only to people who shared his social views. The five trustees of the charitable organization circumvented the Act by buying the paper themselves and swearing before the Supreme Court of Ontario to continue what became known as the "Atkinson Principles":
Descendants of the original owners, known as "the five families", still control the voting shares of Torstar, and the Atkinson Principles continue to guide the paper to this day. In February 2006, Star media columnist Antonia Zerbisias wrote on her blog:
Besides, we are the Star which means we all have the Atkinson Principles — and its multi-culti values — tattooed on our butts. Fine with me. At least we are upfront about our values, and they almost always work in favour of building a better Canada.
Involvement with broadcasting
From 1922 to 1933, the Star was also a radio broadcaster on its station CFCA, broadcasting on a wavelength of 400 metres (749.48 kHz), whose coverage was complementary to the paper's reporting. It was closed following the establishment of the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission and the introduction of a government policy that in essence restricted private stations to an effective radiated power of 100 watts. It would continue to supply sponsored content to the CRBC's station CRCT (later becoming the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's station CBL), which arrangement would last until 1946.
1970s to present
In 1971, the newspaper was renamed The Toronto Star and moved to a modern office tower at One Yonge Street by Queens Quay. The original Star Building at 80 King Street West was demolished to make room for First Canadian Place. The new building originally housed the paper's presses. In 1992, the printing plant was moved to the Toronto Star Press Centre at the Highway 407 & 400 interchange in Vaughan. In September 2002, the logo was changed, and "The" was dropped from the papers. During the 2003 blackout, the Star printed the paper at a press in Welland, Ontario.
Until the mid-2000s, the front page of the Toronto Star had no advertising aside from lottery jackpot estimates.
On May 28, 2007, the Star unveiled a redesigned paper that features larger type, narrower pages, fewer and shorter articles, renamed sections, more prominence to local news, and less so to international news, columnists, and opinion pieces. However, on January 1, 2009, The Star reverted to its previous format. Star P.M., a free newspaper in PDF format that could be downloaded from the newspaper's website each weekday afternoon, was discontinued in October 2007, thirteen months after its launch.
The Star brand
Its precise position in the political spectrum — especially in relation to one of its principal competitors, The Globe and Mail — is at times disputed but the Star is generally considered to be the most liberal of Canada's major papers. Long a voice of Canadian nationalism, the paper opposed free trade with the United States in the 1980s and has recently expressed concern about U.S. takeovers of Canadian firms.
The Star was an early opponent of the Iraq War and sharply criticized most policies of George W. Bush, but supported Canadian participation in U.S. continental missile defense. Editorials have denounced political correctness at Canadian universities, opposed proportional representation, and yet called for more restrictive copyright laws.
In the early 2000s, the newspaper has promoted "a new deal for cities". Historically, its coverage was Toronto-centric to the point that any story was said to carry an explanation as to "What it means to Metro."
The paper usually endorses the Liberal Party federally. The Star was the only major daily to do so in the 2006 and the 2008 federal elections while many of the other major papers endorsed the Conservatives. The Star endorsed the social democratic New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Ed Broadbent in 1979 and it has been over forty years since it last endorsed the Progressive Conservative party under leader Robert Stanfield in 1972. The paper endorsed the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario in some of the provincial elections from the 1940s to the 1980s, and endorsed strategic voting to try to defeat Mike Harris in 1999, which they failed to do.
Though Toronto mayoral elections are non-partisan, during the 2010 mayoral election, it endorsed George Smitherman, who before the election was a provincial cabinet member of McGuinty's Liberal government. In the 2014 mayoral election, as with all the other major Toronto-based daily newspapers, it endorsed John Tory, who would later win the election.
The Toronto Star endorsed the NDP for the 2011 federal election, stating that its platform "puts people first" and that Jack Layton has won the trust of many voters. To avoid vote-splitting that could inadvertently help the Conservatives under Stephen Harper, which it saw as the worst outcome for the country, the paper also recommended Canadians vote strategically by voting for "the progressive candidate best placed to win" in certain ridings.
For the 2015 federal election, the Toronto Star endorsed the Liberal Party, stating that "The Liberal party under Justin Trudeau has crafted an alternative vision for the country that deserves the support of those who believe Canada can be more generous, more ambitious and more successful." They criticised the Conservatives for having a "destructive agenda" and stated that they "play shamelessly on public anxiety about terrorism, refugees and, of all unlikely things, the niqab." It also criticized the Postmedia chain for imposing a common editorial position on its papers, but was also criticized in turn for its "moral self-righteousness."
The Star is one of only two Canadian newspapers that employs a "public editor" (ombudsman) and was the first to do so. Its newsroom policy and journalistic standards guide is also published online.
Other notable features include:
- an annual competition honouring Toronto's best employers
- an in-depth world news section called "World Weekly" on Saturdays, with a column by Tony Burman (this section is only available to residential subscriptions without any additional payment and the section contains no advertisements)
- optional supplements on Friday/Saturday ("That's Puzzling!" (puzzle booklet with University of Toronto semiotics and linguistic anthropology professor Marcel Danesi as featured contributor)), Saturday (Starweek (television listings and episode summaries)), and Sunday (abridged version of The New York Times international section, New York Times Crosswords, editorials, and book reviews) ("That's Puzzling!", the "Starweek", and The New York Times supplements require separate additional payment)
The Star states that it favours an inclusive, "big tent" approach, not wishing to attract one group of readers at the expense of others. It publishes special sections for Chinese New Year and Gay Pride Week, along with regular features on real estate (including condominiums), individual neighbourhoods (and street name etymologies), shopping, cooking, dining, alcoholic beverages (right down to having an exclusive on the anti-competitive practices of the Beer Store that led to major reforms on the sale of alcohol in Ontario grocery stores in 2015 by Premier Kathleen Wynne and Ed Clark), automobiles (as Wheels), and travel destinations.
Since the mid-2010s, the sports and business sections are consolidated on some days and eventually, all weekdays.
The advent of the National Post in 1998 shook up the Toronto newspaper market. In the upheaval that followed, editorial spending increased and there was much hiring and firing of editors and publishers. Toronto newspapers have yet to undergo the large-scale layoffs that have occurred at most other newspapers in Canada and the United States.
The Toronto Star has been profitable in most recent years. The residual strength of the Star is its commanding circulation lead in Ontario. The paper remains a "must buy" for most advertisers. Some competing papers consistently lose money, are only marginally profitable, or do not break out earnings in a way that makes comparison possible. However, the Star has long been criticized for inflating circulation through bulk sales at discount rates.
Margins have declined and some losses have been recorded. In 2006, several financial analysts expressed dissatisfaction with The Star's performance and downgraded their recommendations on the stock of its parent company, Torstar. In October 2006, the publisher and editor-in-chief of The Star were replaced amid reports of boardroom battles about the direction of the company. A redesigned paper launched in May 2007. It featured 17% less space for editorial content and a greater emphasis on local coverage. However, the paper reverted to its pre-May 2007 design on January 1, 2009.
Sing Tao (Canada)
In 1998, the Toronto Star purchased a majority stake in Sing Tao's Canadian newspaper, which it jointly owns with Sing Tao News Corporation. Sing Tao (Canada) encountered controversy in April 2008, after media watchers discovered the paper had altered a translated Toronto Star article about the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games protests to adhere to Chinese government's official line. Sing Tao's then editor Wilson Chan was fired over this.
In October 2012, the Star announced its intention to implement a paywall on its website, thestar.com, which was made effective on August 13, 2013. Readers with daily home delivery had free access to all its digital content. Those without a digital subscription can view up to ten articles a month. The paywall does not apply to its sister sites, such as wheels.ca (automotive news and classifieds) or Workopolis (career search). However, during late 2013, the Star announced that it would end its paywall, which it did on April 1, 2015, amid its lack of digital subscriptions.
Star Touch tablet app
On September 15, 2015, the Toronto Star released the Star Touch tablet app, which is a free interactive news app with interactive advertisements. At launch, it was only available for the iPad, which uses iOS. Based on a similar app for Montreal-based La Presse released in 2013, Star Touch is the first such app for any English-language news organization, quality-wise. In slightly over 50 days since launch, the app had reached the 100,000-download milestone. The Android version was launched on December 1, 2015. The iOS version is rated 12+ by Apple's App Store guidelines and the Android version is rated Mature 17+ by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).
Closing of printing plants
On January 15, 2016, the Toronto Star announced they will be closing its printing plant, and outsourcing all print production starting in July 2016. The newspaper said it would close their printing plant so they can better focus on their digital outlets.
Notable Star personalities (past and present)
Journalists and columnists
- Malene Arpe
- Pierre Berton
- Robert Benzie
- Debra Black
- Margaret L. Bream
- Tony Burman
- Morley Callaghan
- June Callwood
- Greg Clark
- Jeremy Clarkson
- Martin Regg Cohn
- Daniel Dale
- Susan Delacourt
- Rosie DiManno
- Kevin Donovan
- Robyn Doolittle
- Milt Dunnell
- Joe Fiorito
- Graham Fraser
- Michael Geist
- Carol Goar
- Alison Gordon
- Richard Gwyn
- Matthew Halton
- Tim Harper
- Chantal Hébert
- Ernest Hemingway
- Bob Hepburn
- Kim Hughes
- Peter Howell
- Christopher Hume
- Royson James
- Marc and Craig Kielburger
- Tess Kalinowski
- Nicholas Keung
- Naomi Klein
- Michele Landsberg
- Gary Lautens
- Duncan Macpherson
- Linda McQuaig
- Earl McRae
- Heather Mallick
- Dow Marmur
- Lou Marsh
- Adam Mayers
- Vijay Menon
- Cal Millar
- Corey Mintz
- Raju Mudhar
- Peter C. Newman
- David Olive
- Cleo Paskal
- Angelo Persichilli
- Mitch Potter
- Ben Rayner
- Ellen Roseman
- Rob Salem
- Rick Salutin
- Robert Service
- Haroon Siddiqui
- Gordon Sinclair
- Randy Starkman
- Gillian Steward
- Walter Stewart
- Charles Templeton
- Ellie Tesher
- James Travers
- Thomas Walkom
- Rick Westhead
- Antonia Zerbisias
- Old Toronto Star Building
- One Yonge Street – Current office space of the paper
- Star Media Group
- Metroland Media Group – Largest division of company
- Torstar – Parent company to the Toronto Star
- Grant v Torstar Corp
- List of newspapers in Canada
- Timeline of Rob Ford video scandal (as the Toronto Star played a major role in uncovering the scandal, along with other media)