Toronto Star launches digital longform journalism program

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Toronto Star has launched a new offering: Star Dispatches is a weekly digital longform reads program for computer, tablets and other e-readers.

In a letter to readers, publisher John Cruickshank said the intention behind Star Dispatches is to offer more background information and analysis to compliment the Star’s journalism as well as provide the story behind the stories.

The first two issues of the Star Dispatches are available for free on its website. One of the issues features a behind-the-scenes look at how the Star broke the ORNGE story. The other, stories from war veterans on their experiences. Further issues will cost $1 per week, or single issues can be purchased for $2.95 after Nov. 16, Cruickshank’s note said.

The launch comes not long after the Star announced it would be moving its online content behind a paywall in 2013. In that announcement, Cruickshank said with the paywall would expanded content on thestar.com and in print. 

In terms of what the Star's ebooks mean in a wider industry picture, it might be worth noting that it was the Star that reported on journalist Paula Todd’s success publishing her account of finding Karla Homolka in Guadaloupe as an ebook. Todd’s scoop landed her at the top of Amazon Kindle’s non-fiction singles bestseller list and number five on Kobo’s e-books list. Industry insiders estimated her e-book generated as much as $200,000 in gross sales revenue – far exceeding the $15,000 she would have topped out at if she’d chosen the freelance magazine route. Of course, that was a scoop about one of the most notorious convicted criminals in Canadians’ recent collective memory, but as The Globe and Mail’s Simon Houpt wrote after the e-book’s release, “Todd’s experience with e-publishing might end up having as momentous an effect as her scoop itself.”

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