Torstar ends its short-lived venture into hyperlocal, online business reporting in Mississauga and Hamilton. 

Torstar is ending its short-lived venture into hyperlocal, online business reporting in Mississauga and Hamilton.

Staff at websites YourMississaugaBiz and YourHamiltonBiz were told Monday that the company was pulling the plug on those operations, the Globe and Mail's media reporter Steve Ladurantaye first tweeted. Fifteen staff members were laid off, said Bob Hepburn, director of communications at Star Media Group. “It’s a business decision based on economic conditions,” Hepburn told J-Source. “Both [sites] had a subscription-based model, and while the number of subscriptions was growing, it was not as quickly as we had hoped.”

Hepburn did not say how many subscribers YourMississaugaBiz and YourHamiltonBiz had accrued since their launches in 2012 and January 2013 respectively. The websites charged $6.99 weekly for a monthly subscription and $4.99 weekly for an annual subscription.

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When the website was first launched, Mark Cripps, publisher and editor of YourHamiltonBiz, told J-Source: “Our model will live and die by the quality of our journalism.

“We have no other revenue stream to pick us up. We have to produce content that people see as valuable to their business,” he said.

The Torstar ventures were modeled after AllNovaScotia, a similar business website behind a paywall, which generates roughly $2-million annually in revenue. 

Tamara Baluja is an award-winning journalist with CBC Vancouver and the 2018 Michener-Deacon fellow for journalism education. She was the associate editor for J-Source from 2013-2014.