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Publisher’s Note: Torontoist now a part of St. Joseph Media

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”—Margaret Mead (attributed)
That quote, with the questionable attribution, is always what I think about when I think about all the people who work on Torontoist every day to make it great. They are people who love their city and who dedicate their time, energy, and brains to exploring it, writing about it, and making it a better place.
Last night, I had the happy task of letting that group of people know that after a long and fateful journey, Torontoist finally has a safe and permanent new home at St. Joseph Media, the publishers of great Canadian magazines including Toronto Life, Quill & Quire, Canadian Family, Fashion, and more.
Just over two years ago, it really looked like Torontoist would be shut down. The economy was coming apart at the seams and it simply didn’t look like there was any way that Torontoist could survive. A post went up on the site that told everyone that the site would close for good at the end of 2008.
As a dedicated reader and former contributor, I couldn’t bear the thought of Torontoist shutting down. I loved it, and I knew a lot of other people did as well. My partners (Rob Silver and Amanda Alvaro) and I set up a company called Ink Truck Media Corp. to establish a franchise agreement with Gothamist, the great network of city blogs of which Torontoist has always been a part. We officially took over the publication of Torontoist on April 1, 2009.
The last two years have been an amazing time that has seen Torontoist grow ever more ambitious in its editorial vision. Our team did an amazing job of covering the Tamil protests in 2009, coverage that would lead to Torontoist becoming the first digital-only publication to win a National Magazine Award. Our coverage of last summer’s G20 was groundbreaking for a publication like ours, and our municipal politics hub and election coverage was amazingly popular, and one of the most important things we have ever done.
The first thing that I told all of our contributors last night, and that I am telling our readers now, is that St. Joseph Media loves Torontoist. Like my partners and myself at Ink Truck, they are not investing in something so that they can change it, they are investing in it so that it can continue to grow stronger and become more ambitious. The publication we all know and love is not changing in any fundamental way. We remain a Gothamist franchise. We remain independent from the other titles within St. Joseph Media, our editorial team remains unchanged, and I remain in my leadership role, helping to guide us forward. Hamutal Dotan, our editor-in-chief, is as excited about this opportunity as I am, and her passion and dedication will continue to shape how we grow as well.
There is an incredible team at St. Joseph Media, and Torontoist now has a great infrastructure behind us. The scale and seriousness of the projects we will now be able to take on are truly exciting.
On a personal note, I got my start in publishing at St. Joseph Media, where I interned at Toronto Life magazine, several years ago. I know what a great place it is, and I’ve always thought it would make a perfect home for Torontoist. It is a place where we will be able to maintain the independent streak that makes us unique, while having the support we need to grow. I couldn’t be more excited for what the future holds.

Comments

  • http://twitter.com/TOPoetrySlam Toronto Poetry Slam

    So will there be some cross-content partnerships, between Torontoist and, say, Quill & Quire. You got a pretty robust Books section and with Q&Q reporters/resources, it could be even better. Same with some of the excellent writers at TL…will you take advantage of that key resource?

    Also unsure how you are part of the Gothamist network and St Joseph. So who owns Torontoist, Gothamist or St Joseph? Some clarification on that is necessary IMO.

  • http://twitter.com/KenHunt Ken Hunt

    Having great connections to these other resources at St. Joe's is definitely something we will try to make the most of. The important thing to note, though, is that all the St Joe's publications are independent of one another. They all have their own editorial teams, approaches, voices, etc. But we are happy to work with anyone on all sorts of project, whether inside the St. Joe's world or not.

    As for your question on Gothamist, for the past two years, Torontoist has been published under a franchise agreement with Gothamist. That franchise agreement continues.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    Until your post I'd forgotten about the books subsite. I'm surprised to see it's been renamed The Excerpt. When did this happen?

  • http://twitter.com/KenHunt Ken Hunt

    Hi Rek, the books site is currently on hiatus. The Excerpt was a name we were going to try a rebranding with and we still might. Despite great content, there was always a lack of advertising support, so we need to rethink the model there.

  • Jeremy Wilson

    Honestly, I've found Torontoist to have gone down considerably in quality since David left. It used to be that BlogTO was a pale second, but these days I might click on one out of every 15 articles here, while I am clicking on one out of 5 at BlogTO.

    Part of that is your RSS feed change to tiny, useless photos and single sentence clips of articles – rarely enough to interest me. You used to publish full photos and articles which was more useful and engaging.

    Also, the number of substantial stories has declined significantly. Looking at the feed it is mostly news summaries. There might be a feature every other day.

    I'm hoping this change in ownership might lead to some actual content going forward.

  • http://twitter.com/KenHunt Ken Hunt

    Thanks for your honest feedback, Jeremy. I disagree with a lot of what you have written, but we are always looking for ways to improve, and that means taking any and all criticism to heart.

    Personally, I'm immensely proud of the quality of work our editors and writers produce. We know we can always do better though, and if you have any constructive feedback, story ideas or news tips for us, we'd love to hear them.

  • Jeremy Wilson

    The articles that are posted aren't poor quality, just that they don't hit my interest points like they used to. For example, BlogTO has a running feature on photos of Toronto from yesteryear, which are amazing.

    Also, the engagement with the readership is higher there – an article they post will generate dozens of posts while a history of Toronto article, which I consider to be one of the best features here, barely registers one post. Finding some way to get people involved again like they were during the Topping years would be key.

    Returning to the full RSS feed would be a big improvement as well.

  • http://piorkowski.ca qviri

    Honestly, one of the big reasons I don't read blogto is the quality of comments there. Please don't trade away quality for quantity.

  • Jeremy Wilson

    I'd prefer some discussion, even if it might not be the highest quality, rather than none at all, which seems to be the prevalent trend here lately.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    “an article they post will generate dozens of posts”

    Mostly troll posts, though.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    Not everyone has the same interests. The weekly posting of old Toronto advertising, for example, generally predates my arrival in the city by 10 years or more (if it doesn't predate me entirely), so I'm not likely to reply; yet it always generates at least a handful of replies from those who remember when those ads were new, or shopped at that location before it was torn down, etc.

    I've been reading Torontoist for 5 or more years now and have seen commenting wax and wane and wax again. Switching to registered accounts hurt discussion levels for a few months, but then it recovered. Switching to Gothamist's accounts had the same effect. It's likely we're still experiencing fallout from switching commenting systems.

  • http://twitter.com/KenHunt Ken Hunt

    Yes, we have had some serious problems with our commenting systems in the past. The current system is the most stable and responsive we've had in a long time, and comment stats are starting to pick up. If any one has any ideas about how to improve comments at this point, I'd be very interested in listening!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XYF3QSKFNHJ6PSNNHJBRFTT7AM Joe

    Ken Hunt dazzles us with a fusillade of diversionary and insincere Business English buzzwords whose actual meanings are as follows: We couldn’t run this business by ourselves and had to sell out; we sold out to a company we already knew, despite its complete incompatibility with Torontoist’s format, feel, and audience; wholesale changes are inevitable and will wreck what you knew and loved, because that’s what happens in an acquisition; we will defy and frustrate our readers – especially our most serious readers, the ones who understand what RSS is and how it should work – if it serves our narrow interests.

    I surmise that Hunt and St. Joseph have a roughly comparable level of understanding of the Web. Of course they’d see this as win–win. Nobody else does. If this all goes tits-up, Hunt will probably find himself a golden parachute at St. Joseph.

    If Hunt wants to do something novel in the domain of media acquisitions, he can engage in classic blog “transparency” and publish P&L statements from Ink Truck–era Torontoist – and the sale price.

  • http://twitter.com/KenHunt Ken Hunt

    Joe, I agree that the proof will be in the eating. Your skepticism is not unwarranted. Plenty of acquisitions fail. Plenty of people with only the best intentions mess up the things that they love. But, I can assure you that we all know that if we lost what makes Torontoist special: the community, the voice, the attitude, and the independence, then no one will have won, least of all me, and certainly not St. Joseph.

  • http://twitter.com/MarkJull Mark Jull

    Regarding BlogTO – the only good thing about it is Derek Flack. He's the one who posts the interesting historical posts but he, and others, aim for the lowest common denominator by goading readers to post about 'the ugliest street' and the like. Getting hits by asking Torontonians to bitch about something is like shooting fish in a barrel. While every article on Torontoist doesn't interest me (and why should it?) I'm particularly impressed with the stories it runs that MSM doesn't (e.g. the police protest/snipers story). Patrick's Newsstand is a daily read for me just because it's so funny.
    I have no idea how Torontoist does it, but the comments on here are (usually) far superior than found on any other media site. Often the comments to a story are as informative as the story itself. Once in a while a 'troll' will show up, but people seem the worst thing to do is respond and, if they get out of hand, Torontoist doesn't seem to mind just deleting their posts and banning them – for this I'm very glad!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XYF3QSKFNHJ6PSNNHJBRFTT7AM Joe

    Ken Hunt dazzles us with a fusillade of diversionary and insincere Business English buzzwords whose actual meanings are as follows: We couldn’t run this business by ourselves and had to sell out; we sold out to a company we already knew, despite its complete incompatibility with Torontoist’s format, feel, and audience; wholesale changes are inevitable and will wreck what you knew and loved, because that’s what happens in an acquisition; we will defy and frustrate our readers – especially our most serious readers, the ones who understand what RSS is and how it should work – if it serves our narrow interests.

    I surmise that Hunt and St. Joseph have a roughly comparable level of understanding of the Web. Of course they’d see this as win–win. Nobody else does. If this all goes tits-up, Hunt will probably find himself a golden parachute at St. Joseph.

    If Hunt wants to do something novel in the domain of media acquisitions, he can engage in classic blog “transparency” and publish P&L statements from Ink Truck–era Torontoist – and the sale price.

  • http://twitter.com/KenHunt Ken Hunt

    Joe, I agree that the proof will be in the eating. Your skepticism is not unwarranted. Plenty of acquisitions fail. Plenty of people with only the best intentions mess up the things that they love. But, I can assure you that we all know that if we lost what makes Torontoist special: the community, the voice, the attitude, and the independence, then no one will have won, least of all me, and certainly not St. Joseph.

  • http://twitter.com/MarkJull Mark Jull

    Regarding BlogTO – the only good thing about it is Derek Flack. He's the one who posts the interesting historical posts but he, and others, aim for the lowest common denominator by goading readers to post about 'the ugliest street' and the like. Getting hits by asking Torontonians to bitch about something is like shooting fish in a barrel. While every article on Torontoist doesn't interest me (and why should it?) I'm particularly impressed with the stories it runs that MSM doesn't (e.g. the police protest/snipers story). Patrick's Newsstand is a daily read for me just because it's so funny.
    I have no idea how Torontoist does it, but the comments on here are (usually) far superior than found on any other media site. Often the comments to a story are as informative as the story itself. Once in a while a 'troll' will show up, but people seem the worst thing to do is respond and, if they get out of hand, Torontoist doesn't seem to mind just deleting their posts and banning them – for this I'm very glad!