Photo of Toronto’s skyline shot from just outside Grimsby, Ontario, by ethervizion from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.
It’s been almost four months since Torontoist announced that we would be closing at the end of 2008, and about three and a half since we announced that we wouldn’t. Given that we’ve been continually publishing new content, rolling out new features, hiring new contributors, and gaining new readers since then, we’d understand if you’ve been left a bit confused. But no more—there’s finally new news about Torontoist, and it’s inordinately good news: Torontoist has new local investors, and will continue, safe and sound, for long into the future.
The announcement on December 12 that Torontoist would close—a decision brought about mostly by the site’s unenviable financial circumstances—was met less with obituaries than it was with desperate attempts to keep Torontoist alive. A Facebook group called “Torontoist is dead… Long live Torontoist!”, started by our own Jonathan Goldsbie, popped up immediately, an attempt to gauge interest in resurrecting Torontoist in some way, as some new entity, at some time in the future. Media coverage proliferated, deep, broad, endless, and endlessly speculative. The National Post, old friends if occasional ideological opposites, called us “the most eloquent voice of this moment in Toronto” not long before they called us a bunch of young lefty hipsters; CBC Radio’s Matt Galloway told us in an on-air interview that, for him, Torontoist always felt most like wandering the city’s streets. A new city blog calling itself Torontoest, in no way affiliated with Torontoist, teased its launch and then, after we distanced ourselves from it, went out in a blaze of glory. It was weird. But the overarching feeling from everyone—staff, readers, friends, frenemies, and fellow media—seemed to be that Torontoist had become more than a complement to Toronto, but, instead, an essential part of it.
In the midst of all of this, Torontoist staff met to weigh our options. In the hours and days after the shutdown notice, more than a few groups had stepped forward and declared their interest in striking a new deal with Torontoist, groups with the resources to actually make a new deal—and a stronger, growable Torontoist—possible. And so the staff, based on the new possibility that there was something to look forward to, and based on the fast-approaching new year, decided, together, to keep Torontoist alive for no more than six months while we sought out a new financial backer for the site. Gothamist agreed to provide a small budget for the period, and on December 23, we announced that the site wouldn’t be shutting down after all. I wrote then that “a lot now seems possible for the site’s future that wasn’t before,” and that while “Torontoist does not yet have the financial support it needs….it is the entire staff’s shared mission to give the site one big concerted push, one that will see us in far better shape in six month’s time and that should ensure not just our survival but our growth and success. We’re going to do what we can to make Torontoist better than ever. It might, of course, not work. But we’re not done—not yet.”
And now we’re not done at all.
On April 1, financial control of Torontoist shifted from Gothamist to a team of three investors—Ken Hunt, Rob Silver, and Amanda Alvaro—and the new corporation that the three have founded together, Ink Truck Media. (Ken is a software designer, entrepreneur, and former Torontoist contributor, whose writing has been published in Toronto Life, Quill & Quire, and Report on Business Magazine; Rob runs Dynamic Policy Consulting, a clean energy consulting company, and is one half of the Globe & Mail‘s Silver-Powers blog; and Amanda is the Managing Director of Narrative Advocacy Media, a subsidiary of ad agency Bensimon Byrne.)
What’ll all this mean? Everything will change and nothing will: Torontoist will still be called Torontoist, and will remain affiliated with the Gothamist network of worldwide city blogs, but the site will now be wholly locally-operated and have an opportunity to grow like it never could before. As Editor-in-Chief, it’ll remain my job to keep Torontoist’s content as good as and better than ever, to continue to develop and grow and improve the site, to help create great new features and introduce you to great new contributors, and to uphold and strengthen the site’s tight standards for stuff like ethics, accuracy, grammar, style, and puns. Ken, Rob, and Amanda are interested in Torontoist both for what it is and for what it can become, and at some point over the next few days you’ll hear from them. What is most important to know is that everything that is great about Torontoist will stay that way, and everything that can be made better will.
Most of all, with a newly bright future, Torontoist is more committed than ever to fulfilling our mandate to represent Toronto as it really is as well as how we’d like it to be, a duty we have to all of our readers and to the city we all share. I meant what I said at the foot of that farewell announcement in mid-December: 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.
While the conditions may now be different, the ultimate reasons for Torontoist’s success in the future will be no different from the reasons for its success in the past. And as Toronto grows and changes, triumphs and falters, Torontoist will be there.