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The Toronto Star

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The Toronto Star

Toronto Star
The January 23, 2013, front page of The Toronto Star
Type Daily newspaper
Format Broadsheet
Owner Star Media Group (Torstar Corporation)
Publisher John D. Cruickshank
Editor Michael Cooke
Founded 1892, as the Evening Star
Political alignment Social liberalism[1][2][3][4]
Headquarters One Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Circulation 381,310 weekdays
546,819 Saturdays
337,846 Sundays in 2010[5]
ISSN OCLC number 137342540
Official website

The Toronto Star is a Canadian broadsheet daily newspaper. In 2011 it was Canada's highest-circulation newspaper, although also the one with the second-largest decline in readership between 2007 and 2011 among Canada's top 25 newspapers. 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 Afternoon News printers and writers, led by future Mayor of Toronto and social reformer Horatio Clarence Hocken, who became the newspaper's founder. The paper did poorly in its first few years. 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."[6]

Atkinson became the controlling shareholder of the Star. The Toronto Daily 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.

Its early opposition and criticism of the Nazi regime[7] saw the paper become one of the first North American papers to be banned in Germany by its government.[8]

In 1971, the Toronto Daily Star 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. The new building originally housed the paper's presses. In 1992, the printing plant was moved to 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.

On May 28, 2007, The Star unveiled a redesigned paper[9] that features larger type, narrower pages, fewer and shorter articles, renamed sections, more prominence to local news, and less prominence to international news, columnists, and opinion pieces. However, on January 1, 2009, The Star reverted to its pre-May 28, 2007 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.

In October 2012, The Star announced its intention to implement a paywall on its website,, sometime in 2013.[10] On August 13, 2013, the Toronto Star officially launched its paywall; those with home delivery every day have free access to all its digital content.[11][12] The paywall does not apply to its sister sites, such as (automotive news and classifieds).

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.[13] In 1949, the Province of Ontario passed a law (which was repealed in 2009)[14] barring charitable organizations from owning large parts of profit-making businesses[15] that effectively required the Star to be sold. The five trustees of the charitable organization circumvented the law by buying the paper themselves and swearing before the Supreme Court of Ontario to continue the Atkinson Principles:[16]

  • 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,[17] and the Atkinson Principles continue to guide the paper to this day. In February 2006, Star media columnist Antonia Zerbisias wrote on her blog:


Editorial position

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 leftwing of Canada's major papers.[18] 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.

Editorial positions have taken a more moderate stance after the rise of the Toronto Sun, often to the surprise of habitual readers. 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.

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 Progressive Conservative leader Robert Stanfield in 1972. The paper endorsed the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario in many 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.[19]

The Toronto Star endorsed the NDP for the 2011 federal election,[20] 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.[21]

In the early 2000s, the newspaper has promoted "a new deal for cities".


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.[22]

Other notable features include:

  • a community editorial board, whose members write opinion articles that sometimes criticize the paper
  • 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 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), shopping, automobiles, and travel destinations.

Competitive position

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.


Notable journalists and columnists (past and present)

Notable cartoonists

Sing Tao (Canada)

In 1998,[29] the Toronto Star purchased a majority stake in Sing Tao's Canadian newspaper, which it jointly owns with Sing Tao News Corporation.[30] 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 Olympic Games protests to adhere to Chinese government's official line.[29] Sing Tao's then editor Wilson Chan was fired over changes to the translated article.[31]

In popular culture

Joe Shuster, one of the two creators of DC Comics superhero Superman, worked for the Star as a paperboy in the 1920s. 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.

See also


Further reading

External links

  • Official mobile site
  • at YouTube
  • Atkinson Biography, Government of Canada website
  • History of the Toronto Star
  • The Atkinson Principles
  • The Canadian Encyclopedia
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