Saturday, 3 November 2012

The Star at 120: Paper adapts news gathering to the web world

The Star at 120: Paper adapts news gathering to the web world

Laurie Monsebraaten Staff Reporter 
Extra, extra, read all about it… That refrain from a bygone era of newsboys flogging the Star on the streets of Toronto 120 years ago has a new name.  It is called twitter. And today, thanks to the internet, Star journalists tweet the latest breaking news from wherever their stories take them — from Toronto city hall to the revolutionary streets of Tahrir Square in Cairo.

Meantime, columnists post blogs on, a modern take on the speaker’s corner of yore.
It is not a world anyone in the newspaper industry could have imagined even 25 years ago. But the internet has opened a myriad of news possibilities as it challenges a centuries-old business model based on the printing press.
The Star has always embraced technology. When the Star’s $400-million Vaughan Press Centre opened at highways 400 and 407 in 2002, it was the most technologically advanced in the world.
And it was big. About the size of the Rogers Centre, it was among the largest in North America.
The Star was believed to be the first newspaper to move to a new printing plant, change the type of presses, reduce page size and redesign — all at the same time.
At the time, former publisher David Jolley said the plant would be the “engine that would take the Star into the next century.”
As the newspaper size and circulation dipped with the internet age and star readers migrated to, the press centre has adapted by taking on new business.
Media business analyst Rick Edmonds of the Poynter Institute says the jury is still out on whether newspapers can survive the internet revolution.
“The question is whether they will be able to adapt what they have to offer on the new multiple platforms.”
The key is to find ways to replace newspaper advertising revenue while paying for online investments, he said.
The introduction of pay walls and metered access to online newspaper sites is showing some promise, particularly for large newspapers like the New York Times, he said. But the future probably lies in finding new revenue through bundling information and services.
In 2013, the Star will introduce a paid subscription for full access to the paper’s online content to better serve the three million readers who turn to the print and online version every week.
This follows the Globe and Mail’s move to online subscriptions this fall and Post Media’s plans to expand its online subscriptions to all its papers’ websites.
The Star newsroom is also adapting.
In just over a generation, Star reporters have gone from typewriters, to laptops to smart-phones. Smoke-filled newsrooms that used to clatter and ring, now hum and warble.
When news breaks, reporters no longer stampede to payphones and dictate their stories to the re-write desk.
Today, they reach into their pockets for their smart phones that deliver their prose, photos and video wirelessly to the newsroom where editors post the story to within minutes.
The internet means reporters no longer have to consult yellow newspaper clippings in the “morgue” for background to news assignments. Instead, they consult Google and are up to speed in seconds, meaning they can ask better questions and write better stories.
“There are so many more tools available now to tell stories,” said John Miller, journalism professor emeritus at Ryerson University who worked at the Star for 19 years until 1986 when he become Chair of the Journalism School for 10 years.
“But we are still learning how to use these tools.”
More and more people are bypassing traditional media for news on the internet.
“However, when there is a big story, people come back to traditional media because newspapers are a source they can trust,” Miller said.
Capitalizing on that trust and learning how to use the new internet platforms is the challenge of the future he said.
The craft of newspaper journalism has always been a work in progress, says the Poynter Institute’s senior scholar Roy Peter Clark.
We forget there was a time when sports reporters didn’t venture into the locker room and political reporters weren’t supposed to question politicians for fear of being accused of “making the news.”
Human interest stories were initially decried for shifting focus from government to the lives and experiences of everyday people, he said.
“Time and again there have been points in the history of journalism when new forms of writing and new forms of reporting were created to meet new requirements of society and technology and democracy,” he said.
“What’s happening now is that many of those changes are being accelerated,” he said. “But I think we will figure this out long before the Toronto Maple Leafs win another Stanley Cup.”
Star has grown up with the city it serves
Nov. 3, 1892 The first edition of The Evening Star appeared with the slogan A Paper For The People, on Page 1. The four-page paper was printed in the third floor offices at 83 Yonge St.
Dec. 13, 1899 Four years after moving to offices at 25-28 Adelaide St. West, the Star has a new editor — Joseph E. Atkinson, former managing editor of the Montreal Herald. A month later, he changes the paper’s name to The Toronto Daily Star.
June 1902 In the grip of one of the worst heat waves in record, The Star helped raise money for fresh air funds run by charitable groups. The following year, The Star Fresh Air Fund was established to help underprivileged children escape the summer heat.
April 21, 1905 The Star moves to new premises at 18-20 King St. West.
1922 The Star became a pioneer in broadcasting by establishing its own radio station — CFCA. It was the first radio station to broadcast a hockey game, launching the career of broadcaster Foster Hewitt in March 1923.
February 1929 The Star movs to its new building 80 King St.t West. With 650 employees and a circulation of 175,000, it had become the largest circulation newspaper in Canada.
May 8, 1948 Joseph E. Atkinson dies, leaving The Star to the Atkinson Charitable Foundation. Harry C. Hindmarsh, Atkinson's son-in-law, is elected president of The Star.
May 27, 1958 The sale of the Star, required under the Charitable Gifts Act, was completed. It was sold to the five trustees of the Atkinson Charitable Foundation —J.S. Atkinson, Ruth Atkinson Hindmarsh, W.J. Campbell, Dr. B.M. Thall and Beland Honderich for $25,555,000, the highest price paid to that date for a newspaper property anywhere.
Nov. 6, 1971 The paper's name was changed to The Toronto Star. A month later, operations are moved to a new building at 1 Yonge St.
Oct. 16, 1977 The Star publishes its first Sunday edition.
Aug. 24, 1981 The morning edition of the Star is launched.
Nov. 2, 1992 The Star's new $400 million Press Centre in Vaughan opens.
March 30, 1996 Star launches its website,

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