Toronto Star shutting down StarMetro newspapers

The Toronto Star is shutting down its StarMetro commuter newspapers across Canada, cutting 73 jobs.

The final editions in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto and Halifax will be published Dec. 20, a spokesperson for Torstar Corp., the parent company of both newspaper brands, told CBC News in an email.

“Commuter readers are using their smartphones, laptops and tablets to access their news,” Bob Hepburn said in an email.

“This trend, coupled with a corresponding decline in print advertising volumes, has decreased the need for a free daily commuter newspaper in these cities.”

Digital content will be offered in markets outside Ontario under the Toronto Star brand, Hepburn said; the StarMetro brand “will be no more.”

An internal email sent to staff by Torstar president and CEO John Boynton stated print advertising had “decreased significantly in recent months to levels below those required to make them commercially viable.”

Boynton’s memo, provided to CBC News, says the 73 lost jobs would be in editorial, advertising and distribution departments.

The memo also said there are plans to open new Star bureaus in the coming weeks in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Halifax that will be staffed by Star journalists. The jobs were going to be posted internally on Tuesday and externally on Wednesday.

CBC News has learned the new digital bureaus will be staffed by five reporters in Vancouver, five reporters in Alberta and one in Halifax.

It was only a year ago the company rebranded its free Metro daily newspapers across Canada. The rebrand included an investment that more than doubled the number of Metro journalists, the Star reported at the time.

By Tuesday afternoon, reporters for the paper were tweeting about the shutdown.

Hepburn said the 73 laid-off staff will receive severance packages based on their collective agreements, if they are unionized employees, and based on provincial regulations if they are non-union staff.

Eleven of the positions are with Unifor, according to Boynton’s memo.

Torstar is offering a voluntary departure program to editorial employees, said a Torstar spokesperson in an email.


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