In the news media across Canada, the Toronto Star is an icon. It is a newspaper created for the working man 130 years ago and it is today, the largest circulation broadsheet newspaper in the country. And, like other news media today, it continues to re-invent itself and struggles on in its tenuous existence in a constantly changing market.
When the first non-newspaper people to take on the known risks bought the Star two years ago for a reported $60 million, I was amused. I did not know Paul Rivett but, as a Torontonian at heart I know of and respect the Bitove family—though I think Jordan Bitove is a couple generations behind me. What amused me, was that they supposedly working on the advice of their lawyer, former Ontario premier David Peterson. Not one of the three knew anything about the newspaper business and how it has evolved in recent years.
While my earliest commentaries were written for the now defunct Toronto Telegram, I also worked for the Globe and Mail and contributed quite a few op-eds to the Toronto Star over the years—until I was black-balled by the Star in the early 1980s.
(That was an interesting story. I was doing a study for the government in Ottawa on government-industry programs and I thought it would have some legs if the Star got behind it. I got an appointment with the then president of TorStar to make the pitch. I could not understand why he was being so negative. He finally admitted that his brother-in-law, whom I didn’t know, also pitched to do the same study. I guess he wanted part of the $350,000 the government was providing. I didn’t have the heart to tell the TorStar guy that I was doing the study on an expenses-only basis.)
But I still pick a good commentary occasionally to test on the Star. I don’t believe in what the Star is doing with lengthy stories in almost all categories. Not all of us can write 2000 words at the drop of a hat like Rosie DiManno. It looks as though the few people kept on staff are told to ‘write long’ to hide the fact that there is really less in the paper these days.
I expect the disagreement between Paul Rivett and Jordan Bitove will be solved soon. I just hope it will not result in trouble for the Star. It has always been a great paper and today, we need its voice.
Copyright 2022 © Peter Lowry
Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to: