Toronto Star

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<tr><td colspan="2" style="text-align: center;">
</td></tr> <tr><th>Editor</th><td>Fred Kuntz</td></tr> <tr><th>Political allegiance</th><td>Liberal</td></tr>
TypeDaily newspaper

OwnerTorStar Corporation
Headquarters1 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario


The Toronto Star is Canada's highest-circulation newspaper, though its print edition is distributed almost entirely within Ontario. Its parent company, Torstar, also owns:


[edit] History

The Star (originally known as The Evening Star and then The Toronto Daily Star) was created in 1892 by striking Afternoon News printers and writers. The paper did poorly in its first few years. But it prospered under Joseph "Holy Joe" Atkinson, editor from 1899 until his death in 1948.

Atkinson had a strong 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."

But Atkinson was also a shrewd businessman who became the controlling shareholder of The Star and amassed a considerable personal fortune. The Toronto Daily Star was frequently criticized for practicing the yellow journalism of its era. For decades, the paper included heavy doses of crime and sensationalism, along with crusading zeal for social change.

Beginning in the mid-50's, the Star sought increased respectability by elevating professional standards and avoiding the sensational excesses of the past. It hired some of the country's most respected journalists and advocated expansion of the welfare state.

In 1971, The Toronto Daily Star was re-named The Toronto Star and moved to a modern office tower at One Yonge Street and Queens Quay. The new building originally housed the paper's presses. The printing plant was moved outside the city to Vaughan in 1992. The original Star Building at 80 King Street West was demolished. On September 5, 2006, The Star launched Star P.M., a free newspaper in PDF format that may be downloaded from the newspaper's website each weekday beginning at 3:30 PM.

[edit] Atkinson Principles

Shortly before his death in 1948, Atkinson transferred ownership of the paper to a charitable organization given the mandate of continuing the paper's liberal tradition. Ontario's Conservative government passed a law barring charitable organizations from owning large parts of profit-making businesses. The law required the Star to be sold. The five trustees of the charitable organization cirumvented the law by buying the paper themselves and swearing before The Ontario Supreme Court to continue the Atkinson Principles:

  • A Strong, United and Independent Canada
  • Social Justice
  • Individual and Civil Liberties
  • Community and Civic Engagement
  • The Rights of Working People
  • The Necessary Role of Government

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. Recent editorials have been headlined "Fairness for the deaf" and "Public policy fuelling poverty." In February, 2006 Star media columnist Antonia Zerbisias wrote on her blog: "...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."

[edit] Editorial Position

Today, the Star remains to the left of centre in the Canadian context. The paper's precise position in the political spectrum ― especially in comparison to one of its main competitors, The Globe and Mail ― is hotly debated. The Star finds room for left-leaning columnists and op-ed commentators who would be consigned to more marginal publications or websites in the United States. The paper has long been a voice of Canadian nationalism and vigorously opposed free trade with the United States in the 1980's.

But editorial positions sometimes surprise readers. The Star was an early and vigorous opponent of the Iraq War and sharply criticizes most policies of George W. Bush, but supported Canadian participation in U.S. continental missile defense. Recent editorials have denounced political correctness at Canadian universities and opposed proportional representation.

The paper has almost always endorsed the Liberal Party federally. The Star was the only major daily to do so in the 2006 federal election while many of the other major papers endorsed the Conservatives. The Star has never endorsed the more left-wing New Democratic Party, though it came close to doing so provincially in 1990. The paper endorsed the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario in many of the provincial elections from the 1940's to the 1980's. (Star journalist Claire Hoy coined the nickname "Big Blue Machine" in 1971 to describe the PC political organization which frequently ran on a moderate agenda.)

That said, today few major North American dailies are further to the left than the Star. The paper's editorialists and columnists usually avoid righteous indignation or anger, preferring earnest exhortation, appeals to compassion, and proposing reforms to further the common good. Supporters praise the Star 's continuing commitment to its founding principles, applauding its ability to attract a large readership for many stories unlikely to be printed elsewhere.

Detractors call the newspaper "the people's paper" and "the only paper in the world edited by a dead man" (a derisive reference to The Atkinson Principles). Critics also target formulaic "sob sister" stories that focus on the plight of the poor and downtrodden. Strikingly, the board of directors of the paper's parent company, Torstar, includes distinguished business leaders, a former president of the University of Toronto, a former Supreme Court of Canada justice and a former executive of The New York Times.

The Star says 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 weekly sections entitled Condo Living and Shopping. Each day's newspaper is thick, often running to six or more ad-stuffed sections. A particular strength is local coverage of Toronto. In recent years, the newspaper has promoted "a new deal for cities."

The Star is the only Canadian newspaper that employs a public editor (ombudsman). Other notable features include an immigration/diversity reporter, a community editorial board, and charitable campaigns that solicit contributions from readers.

[edit] Competitive Position

Unlike some of its more conservative competitors, the paper is profitable, with margins ranging from 11% to 14% in recent years. The Star 's circulation lead in Ontario make it a "must buy" for most advertisers. Some competing papers lose money, are only marginally profitable, or do not break out earnings in a way that makes comparison possible. Throughout its history, the Star has been criticized for inflating circulation through bulk sales at discount rates.

Recently, financial analysts have expressed dissatisfaction with the The Star 's performance and some have downgraded their recommendations on the stock of its parent company, Torstar. In October 2006, the publisher and editor-in-chief were replaced amid reports of boardroom battles about the direction of the company.

[edit] Star people

Notable past employees of the Star include Pierre Berton, Greg Clarke, Nathan Cohen, Milt Dunnell, Graham Fraser, Ernest Hemingway, Naomi Klein, Michele Landsberg, Duncan MacPherson, Peter C. Newman, Robert Service, Walter Stewart, and Charles Templeton. Among its best known current columnists are Geoff Baker, Linwood Barclay, Rosie Dimanno, Carol Goar, Richard Gwyn, Chantal Hebert, Royson James, Linda McQuaig, Cleo Paskal, Haroon Siddiqui, Ellie Tesher, James Travers, Thomas Walkom, and Antonia Zerbisias.

[edit] Superman and The Star

Joe Shuster, one of the two creators of Superman, worked for the Star as a paperboy in the 1920's. Shuster named Clark Kent's paper The Daily Star in honour of The Toronto Daily Star. The name of Kent's paper was later changed to The Daily Planet.

[edit] See also

[edit] References and Links

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Toronto Star

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