Memo: Toronto Star announces new management positions and newsroom reorganization

The following memo was sent to Toronto Star staff on Nov. 14, 2016, from Irene Gentle, managing editor. Colleagues; As we continue to reshape our newsroom to adapt to internal and industry changes and double down on the important, ambitious journalism the Star demands, I’m excited to announce a number of changes in our managers’…

The following memo was sent to Toronto Star staff on Nov. 14, 2016, from Irene Gentle, managing editor.


As we continue to reshape our newsroom to adapt to internal and industry changes and double down on the important, ambitious journalism the Star demands, I’m excited to announce a number of changes in our managers’ roles.

These changes reflect the transformation we have been talking about together in four town hall-style sessions and in well over 100 one-on-one meetings. As a reminder, the reshaping is aimed at breaking down internal barriers, increasing communication and story development with editors and journalists, boosting our digital awareness and skills and focusing on the core Star journalism we all believe in through a deepened focus on areas such as beats, bureaus and columnists; breaking news/enterprise, projects and features.

Here are the leaders to help us take that next step. Please join me in congratulating them.

Jennifer Quinn becomes Senior Editor, Breaking News/Enterprise, leading a team of journalists on aggressive coverage of breaking news and local and national enterprise reporting for all platforms, but with a digital-first philosophy.  This one of the most exciting desks in the newsroom and I am thrilled Jennifer, with her deep reporting roots and exceptional news judgement, will lead it.

Jennifer worked for The Star from 1996 to 2005 in news and sports, and returned in 2012 as a member of our international reporting team. She became sports editor two years ago. She has also worked in the United Kingdom for the Canadian High Commission and as a correspondent for The Associated Press. During her first stint at The Star, Jennifer was part of a team that won a National Newspaper Award and a Michener Award for an investigation into racial profiling by Toronto police.

We will fill the vacancy at Sports Editor created by Jennifer Quinn’s appointment in the coming weeks.

After consultation and what essentially amounted to a live test over recent months, we have refined the beats, bureaus and columns (BBC) concept, so that there is a dual announcement here. The large file will be helmed by Julie Carl and Doug Cudmore, each with separate portfolios to allow for the envisioned deeper communication with journalists.

Julie Carl becomes Senior Editor, National/Urban Affairs and Social Justice in the BBC area. Julie will lead a group that includes the Ottawa, Queen’s Park and City Hall bureaus as well as reporters and columnists covering 905, education, transportation and beats closely aligned with the Atkinson Principles: including social justice, work and wealth, affordable housing and a new identity and inequality beat. More on that very soon.

Julie joined the Star 18 months ago as Deputy City Editor, quickly earning the respect of the reporters and editors around her. Previously, she has worked as associate editor for reader engagement and deputy editor at the Winnipeg Free Press. Julie has also worked at the Fredericton Daily Gleaner as opinion page editor and the London Free Press as city editor.

Doug Cudmore becomes BBC Senior Editor, Justice, Innovation and Business in the BBC area. His team will include journalists and columnists covering immigration, police, courts, health, science, and business.

Doug has been with the Star since 1997 when he came aboard as a summer relief copy editor. He soon moved on to a wide range of roles including editor of sections such as The Ticket and Metropolis, news editor, assistant feature editor and copy chief. Following two years at the Globe and Mail, Doug returned to the Star and moved into management as entertainment editor in 2008. He became deputy city editor in 2011 and business editor a year later. Most recently you have seen him flexing his news skills on the breaking desk to help it gain roots.

Mary Vallis becomes Senior Editor for Life, Entertainment and Special Sections. She will personally continue to oversee the Life department and will also take on new responsibilities (working closely with Marie Sutherland, whose appointment as senior news editor was announced two weeks ago) and Jason Paul to ensure smooth partnership with Pagemasters as we continue to transition following recent departures.

Mary was appointed Life Editor in January 2015 and played a key role in the development and launch of Star Touch over the ensuing eight months (including, notably, introduction of the Henley the Hedgehog song). She has been with The Star since 2010, working initially as a team editor in City and later as News Editor – Digital and Deputy City Editor. Before joining The Star, Mary spent 10 years as a reporter and editor at the National Post, winning a breaking news NNA for her reporting on the Virginia Tech massacre.

Ariel Teplitsky, I am very pleased to announce, is promoted to management as entertainment editor, responsible for arts, culture and entertainment coverage on all platforms.

Ariel arrived at the Star as a radio roomer and then one-year intern in 1999. He joined entertainment in 2000 and has been a creative and energetic contributor to the department ever since. I know he will be terrific in this next stage of his Star career.

Christine Loureiro moves to Deputy Editor, Digital. She will work closely with Jennifer Quinn, David Skok, J.P. Fozo and our crucial and creative digital team to help ensure our best work is delivered intelligently and engagingly to all our digital audiences, which is critical to our future growth. Jason Paul will remain in the department for a time to ensure a thorough transition for Christine in her challenging new role.

Christine returned to staff as Entertainment Editor in March 2015. She had worked previously at The Star in a variety of roles, including deputy Life editor, and later served as editor-in-chief of The Kit.

Fadi Yaacoub is appointed Director of Tablet for editorial. Continuing to work closely with tablet production manager Rick Laiken, he will oversee Star Touch producers, editors and designers.

Fadi was the first person hired from outside to work on the team that developed Star Touch. He joined in March 2015 as Director of Digital Editorial Design, coming from Radio-Canada where he had been responsible for revamping the look and feel of Le Téléjournal. Under Fadi’s direction, Star Touch is a beautifully designed, immersive news app. His leadership is dynamic, creative, demanding and inspiring.

His design and production team was nominated earlier this year for a National Newspaper Award in the Presentation category for its package on the 2015 federal election.

J.P. Fozo will take on an expanded role as Executive Producer, Projects. This is an extension of his previous role as Senior Editor, Digital Projects, and allows him to bring his impressive talent and commitment to finding the best way to tell and present our top journalism to all platforms. He will work very closely with Lynn McAuley’s team, Kevin Donovan and the I-team and David Skok. Though there will very likely be more demand newsroom-wide for digital presentation than we can immediately fulfill, JP is a terrific person for any department to reach out to when beginning to think of a series or larger scope story or project.

J.P. came to The Star in August 2014, bringing with him a broad and diverse background that included journalism, project and product management. He was part of the team that won the NNA for Project of the Year for our series on missing and murdered indigenous women last year. Before coming to the Star, he was the General Manager of digital for Maclean’s, Canadian Business and MoneySense magazines.

Jason Paul becomes News Editor, Multimedia, a new role with a mandate to help find ways to break down barriers between print and digital production while expanding digital knowledge and skillsets among newsroom editors. His first job is to explore the viability of a larger Continuous News Desk for all platforms, while assisting senior news editor Marie Sutherland with print production and absorbing some of the tasks left behind by the departure of Andrew Waugh.

Jason joined staff in 2007 as a page editor. He later worked as a production editor before moving into management as Digital News Editor early last year, making him one of the few people in the newsroom with a deep and specific understanding of digital and print needs. Jason spent eight years at the Toronto Sun before joining The Star.

Dianne de Fenoyl and Amit Shilton will continue to perform the new roles they have recently taken responsibility for, but which may not be widely known.

Dianne de Fenoyl is Senior Editor, “A” Section. In this role, Dianne is responsible for ensuring we have the best mix of content in the critical news section. Since taking on this ‘best of’ role in tablet, readership throughout the front section markedly increased.

Dianne joined The Star two years ago, the latest stop in a distinguished journalism career that also includes stints as managing editor of Maclean’s, editorial director of Chatelaine, executive editor of Saturday Night, editor of the Globe and Mail Review, Life editor of the National Post and Editor-at-large for Rogers Publishing.

Amit Shilton has taken on the role of weekend planning editor, responsible for co-ordinating the fabulous journalism that fills Star Touch on the days when readers can spend the most time with it. This role will be expanded to include the print platform. He has also assumed a lead role in slotting the GTA section for print and tablet while continuing to support Fadi and Rick with their oversight of tablet operations.

Amit was appointed Deputy Production Manager for tablet in early 2015. He began with The Star in 2011 as a page editor, and returned in late 2014.

In addition to all of these moves, we are incredibly fortunate that our newsroom leadership group includes a few others whose roles and titles are not changing. They include Lynn McAuley, our Associate Editor, Features and Projects, whose amazing talent and story-telling commitment is evidenced by her team’s many NNA and Michener nominations and wins; Features Editor Janet Hurley, whose creativity, news sense and thoroughness has helped develop the inspired profiles and deeper dive stories often featured prominently in our weekend editions; Production Manager for Star Touch and newsgate whisperer (OK, that is not an official title) Rick Laiken, whose sharp news judgement unerringly steers the tablet news file;Taras Slawnych, Visuals and Emerging Technologies Editor, deeply missed as he continues to recuperate; the intelligent and incisive Editorial Page Editor Andrew Phillips; and the smart creativity of Paolo Zinatelli, Design Manager for Star Touch. As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Rene Johnston is holding down the photo fort during Taras’s leave, with Denis Cyr stepping in when Rene is not available.

This has been a tremendously challenging time for all of us, including having just said goodbye to our well-respected colleagues and with many managers filling in for each other on crucial roles during the transition. These new management roles, which take effect within the next two weeks, should help bring some stability to the newsroom while helping us maximize the smart, great, flexible, collaborative and engaged newsroom we are.

These changes will mean some reassignments, responsibilities and opportunities in the team editor and deputy editor roles. A further note with these announcements will be coming soon.

Though there are still changes to come, we are a long way toward our goal, understanding the realities of the news world means we will always be tweaking and reforming as needed.

As soon as possible we will gather all these changes together in a document or chart to help everyone track just who is where newsroom-wide. If anyone is confused about where they fit into these changes, clarity will be coming very shortly.

Thanks very much to all of you for taking the time to talk, share insights and provide feedback. It has been essential.

H.G. Watson was J-Source's managing editor from 2015 to 2018. She is a journalist based in Toronto. You can learn more about her at