The MacDonald Report is the first expansion for allNovaScotia since the iconoclastic news site launched more than 12 years ago.

By Kelly Toughill, Business of Journalism Editor

One of Canada’s most successful online news sites is expanding to the weekend.

AllNovaScotia.com will launch The MacDonald Report later this month with long-time reporter Andrew MacDonald writing and producing the site.

The MacDonald Report, which will be updated every Friday night, is the first expansion for allNovaScotia since the iconoclastic news site launched more than 12 years ago.

AllNovaScotia is one of the most successful local news sites in North America. Launched by serial entrepreneur David Bentley and his daughter, Caroline Wood, the site succeeded by ignoring most of the best practices of online journalism. The site is only available to subscribers who pay $10 to $30 a month for access. It has few photos, no graphics, eschews social media and publishes five nights a week.

According to Bentley, the site was profitable from its second year. It currently employs 16 journalists at salary levels roughly comparable to those paid by the local Halifax daily newspaper, the Chronicle Herald.

Many expected Bentley to expand allNovaScotia into new markets, but he has not done so. He instead grew his newsroom in Halifax and added different types of news to the mix of business and politics that is at the heart of the editorial package. Bentley’s previous start-ups include Frank Magazine and the newspaper that became the Halifax Daily News.

MacDonald was the first reporter hired to work at allNovaScotia more than a decade ago. He said the new site will give him a chance to stretch his talents as a reporter. He plans to focus on investigative work and profiles in stories of no more than 500 words each.

“This is a logical evolution of my journalism career and a logical extension of allNovaScotia to have a separate read,” MacDonald said.

The MacDonald Report will have its own website, and MacDonald will work out of a separate office. The Report is owned by the same company that owns AllNovaScotia.com, and it will be available to allNovaScotia subscribers for no additional fee.

Bentley refused to say exactly why he decided to launch a different brand for the weekend report delivered to existing subscribers.

“The arrangements are designed to give (Andrew) the space to do something different,” Bentley wrote in an email to J-Source.

“His big strength is his interest in other people and the contacts he has to tell stories that connect with other people. We’re hoping that will be a good basis for a weekend read.”