TORONTO, March 4, 2020 /CNW/ - Torstar Corporation announced today it has signed an exclusive agreement with Innocode, a digital platform and has launched an innovative new project aimed at revitalizing local media in communities across Canada.
The initiative, called Torstar Local, was launched recently with its first test product in North Bay, Ontario. Known as The North Bay Local, it is a digital-only news and information product that combines local news with contributions from community groups.
It is available as an iOS app, an Android app and at thenorthbaylocal.com. There is no print edition. The news and community content is locally generated and there will be advertising.
This initiative is the latest in a growing series of transformation investments announced recently by Torstar that the company is making in improving and launching digital products for consumers and clients, supported by investments in new digital platforms, new digital partnerships and in first-party data capabilities.
Torstar Local aims to revitalize community media by proactively engaging local community groups and providing them with an efficient, effective means to communicate with their local community.
"Congratulations to Torstar on its launch of this unique community hub website and phone app," said North Bay Mayor Al McDonald. "North Bay is open for business. Thank you for your investment and confidence."
Torstar signed the exclusive agreement with Innocode, a technology company established in Norway in 2011, to develop the North Bay site. Innocode works with Norway's three largest newspaper publishers and a growing number of large and small North American local media companies. Innocode's technology platform is innovative and highly scalable. It provides a complete front-end solution (technology plus experience) in launching websites and native applications that bring together news, local citizens, municipal governments and local businesses.
The Innocode platform brings together content from a publisher's CMS, social media, RSS feeds and other sources. Editorial content is offered along with information from local government, sports and other clubs, associations and community groups.
The North Bay Local test market combines original journalism, community information and local advertising to create a uniquely engaging digital experience. Torstar is committed to delivering original journalism. Torstar Local will employ local freelance journalists in each community to ensure a consistent, relevant level of local news gathering is supported.
The app features local news and community information, such as news of road closures or building permits, local sports scores, stories and pictures about local organizations, and an events calendar. It will also feature online classified ads and life events such as birthdays and engagements.
"We are pleased to be one of the first organizations to sign up as a community partner with The North Bay Local," said Caroline Parnell-Barry, Capitol Centre marketing director. "This new web site and app provides us with a venue where we can further share information about the Capitol Centre with the community in our own unique way."
John Boynton, President and CEO of Torstar, said "This initiative will create an integrated local product to serve the needs for news and information that residents in smaller communities require. We believe it will play a vital role in these communities by combining a quality local news experience with a community hub environment, thus helping to provide the local ties that hold communities together. It will take some time to get consumer feedback on this new service and to get the business model right. We are starting with North Bay to try and do just that."
This initiative is one of the latest executions of Torstar's multi-year transformation strategy, with more planned in the coming months, Boynton added.
About Torstar Corporation: Torstar Corporation is a broadly-based media company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TS.B). Its businesses include the Toronto Star, Canada's largest daily newspaper, six regional daily newspapers in Ontario including The Hamilton Spectator, and more than 70 weekly community newspapers in Ontario; flyer distribution services and digital properties including thestar.com (with local editions in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Halifax), wheels.ca, toronto.com, save.ca, a number of regional online sites and eyeReturn Marketing. It also holds a majority interest in VerticalScope, a North American vertically-focused digital media company.
SOURCE Torstar Corporation
For further information: Bob Hepburn, Director, Communications, Torstar Corporation, 416-869-4947, [email protected]