In Torontoist’s first article, on October 26, 2004, co-founder Sarah Lazarovic promised to readers that “Never again will you blindly wonder what’s going on in the city….Torontoist will provide you with everything you’ve ever needed, 416-wise.” Populated by a “collective of persons, all wryly knowledgeable in the arenas they will be posting on,” Torontoist would, even if its contributors didn’t always collectively agree, be using the collective voice—the editorial we—that characterized the other city sites owned and published by Gothamist. One year after that first article, NOW named Torontoist the best blog in the city, describing its scope as “the landscape of Toronto and all the weird and wonderful things that take place therein,” and summing it up as “a pleasurable browse that doesn’t feel like a news site.”
A lot has changed since then, and a lot hasn’t. I’ve been the editor of Torontoist for two and a half of the site’s four years, first with Ron Nurwisah (until December 2006), and then with Marc Lostracco (from January to December 2007). During my time here—which has spanned seven thousand articles, thirty-six thousand comments, and ten million hits—I’ve seen Torontoist grow dramatically in number and breadth of readers and contributors. I’ve seen it take a spot in the margins of Toronto’s media, and prove that the relationship between vast media empires and small internet publications need not be a parasitic one where the latter feeds off the former but a symbiotic one where both use—and complement, and need—one another. I’ve seen it twist the “city blog” format into something greater than that, something that saw the quality of content, not its quantity or profitability, as the ultimate end. I’ve seen it lauded, slammed, copied, envied, loved, and overlooked. But most of all, I’ve seen the city and Torontoist change together, day after day, article after article. I am intensely proud of what Torontoist has done and what it has become, and I’m very hopeful for the future of the city that has always been its focus. But in 2009, as Toronto continues to move forward, I’m very sorry to announce that Torontoist will no longer be there to bear witness.
At the end of this month, I will be stepping down as Torontoist’s Editor-in-Chief. I’ve loved everything about this job since I started it, and my decision to leave was not an easy one to make, but it is, ultimately, the right one at the right time for the right reasons. Gothamist has decided, as a result of both my resignation and the recession, to close Torontoist on January 1, 2009 and concentrate on their more lucrative American sites. That decision is the right one, too: as it exists now, Torontoist can barely be sustained, let alone developed, and it has survived and thrived as long as it has, in spite of modest means, largely because of the ceaseless hard work of that aforementioned collective. Torontoist may return at some later date, if conditions are different; until then, it will remain in suspended animation, its content still public and searchable.
A month and a half ago, a few days after our fourth birthday, NOW named Torontoist this city’s best website one more time, and their readers chose us as this city’s best blog. The magazine ended their mostly-curmudgeonly (and pretty self-oblivious) endorsement with unfeigned applause and a call to arms, concluding that “overall, there is no other blog that cares so much about the city. For that, Torontoist should be saluted—and the rest of the local blogosphere should try harder.” It’s not just the “blogosphere”: Torontonians need to be shown more often that their city is not ugly, banal, mean, or dangerous, but also reminded that it is not perfect or unimpeachable. Toronto warrants honest praise, honest criticism, a bit of heart, and a half-decent sense of humour. Torontoist has tried to provide all of those things, and it owes its success and whatever legacy it has to the editors, contributors, and readers, past and present, who have understood that great cities are not born but made and endlessly remade, and that they are ours to make better.
Thanks for reading, and stay with us: we’ve still got plenty left before the end of the year, and maybe a surprise or two to top it all off.
Photo by Miles Storey.