Toronto Standard aims to give web writers a fair shake

Toronto Standard pre-tweets its own birth.

Launching April 7, Toronto Standard will join an already crowded field of sites presenting Toronto news. But rather than follow the recent trend of focusing on the hyper-local, the site plans to look outward, editorial director Christopher Frey—founding editor of Outpost Magazine and a writer represented by Canadian Writers Grouptold Torontoist.

A few writers have already been identified as future Toronto Standard contributors: Carl Wilson, Zoilus blogger and contributor to many other publications, will be the resident Culture Critic; former Toronto Life contributor and accomplished author James Chatto will provide food criticism; and Chris Randle, who will serve as “pop urchin.” (Wilson and Randle already collaborate on the Back to the World blog.)

Perhaps more notable, Frey told Torontoist the site will offer its writers compensation “comparable to what the dailies would pay for the piece, and sometimes better.” In this, TS joins online-only news outlets like OpenFile that, with hefty financial backing (in OpenFile‘s case, it’s founding sponsor is TD Bank), are changing writers’ expectations of what web writing should pay. The investor behind Toronto Standard is (strongly) rumoured to be Lee Polydor, owner of Queen Street Partners, an investment company that deals mostly with real estate.

In an email to Story Board, Frey wrote that, in addition to a small editorial staff and a core group of critics and contributors, Toronto Standard will also work with freelancers. The chance to work with many writers he’s known and admired for years, says Frey, was one of the reasons he joined the project. “Fortunately, almost everyone I’ve approached has liked the concept and expressed an interest in being a part of it. They’ve felt that indeed it might offer something that’s missing from the crowded Toronto mediascape.”

Another factor, says Frey, was “the publisher’s willingness to pay writers a decent wage for internet journalism.” Having worked as a magazine editor for years, Frey was wary of the some online publications’ business models, which seem to fall “somewhere between voodoo and rocket science,” he writes. “The publisher and I started from the old-fashioned premise that if we paid writers a decent rate (or at competitive with the dailies), give them an interesting nest to work from, put it in a compelling package — we could produce something of quality that people will want to read.”

Posted on March 23, 2011 at 2:40 pm by editor · · Tagged with: , ,

Leave a Reply