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Torstar Corp. shutters 10 local news websites

The Kingston Local is among a number of Torstar local news websites that have ceased publication as of today. 

The contract employees and the freelancers who worked for the Kingston Local were abruptly informed about the website’s closure on Monday. 

“Unfortunately, the combined weight of the pandemic and the runway needed to get a new media business up and running has proven too steep a hill for now,” said Bob Hepburn, Torstar Director of Communications about the closures. “Torstar remains committed to local news and will continue to innovate and experiment with ways in which to provide vital local news to communities across Ontario.”

The website has now been updated, stating that “Torstar Local’s sites and apps have ceased operations in April, 2021. For more information about community news in Ontario, please visit Metroland.com.”

Torstar Corporation initially announced the digital news platform in March 2020, after having tested the product in North Bay. The digital platform described itself as an “innovative new project aimed at revitalizing local media in communities across Canada.” It was done in an exclusive partnership with the swedish based innocode. The platform combined both local news and contributions from participating community groups. 

In less than a year, the platform expanded to have 10 “hyperlocal news brands,” including Belleville, Kingston, Stratford, Cornwall, Windsor. Essex, and North Bay. The platform encouraged readers to download its app, where readers would then be notified of local news and community updates.

The digital platform was awarded funding from Google’s Local News Initiative and Facebook’s Journalism Project. Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Torstar Local brands also received funding from the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. 

A general manager, part-time local community coordinators, freelance journalists, and commission-based local sales professionals are among those who are being laid off as a result of the closure. 

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