Star revamp introduces new sections

Design changes to the weekend editions of The Toronto Star mean three new sections in the Sunday paper and one new section in Saturday's, but no radical departure from Star style, say two senior executives who worked on the makeover.Keith Branscombe,...

Design changes to the weekend editions of The Toronto Star mean three new sections in the Sunday paper and one new section in Saturday’s, but no radical departure from Star style, say two senior executives who worked on the makeover.

Keith Branscombe, director of design at the Star, says, in his view, the largest paper in the country has pulled back from much more radical design changes because those already in place have pleased readers and circulation is up.

The Toronto Star is published by Toronto Star Newspapers, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Torstar. Its paid circulation Saturdays is just under 745,000. Its Sunday paid circulation is 507,000.

John Honderich, editor of the Star, says the latest changes, to be unveiled in the Nov. 14 Sunday Star, are part of a redesign process that began three years ago.

Honderich agrees that the ‘complete reorganization’ will give the papers a cleaner look.

Branscombe concurs.

He says the weekend papers will be ‘better organized,’ with a royal blue instead of a red front page banner; black-and-white section banners; a return to a six-column format; more consistency with the use of logos, including a hierarchy of photo logos for columnists; and, in December, a new version of Times Roman typeface.

Honderich declines to name the new weekend sections, save the 10-page news section Context.

He says the section will contain items on science, a world report, op-ed pieces, and more.

He stresses the page count of both papers will remain the same, as will the ad-to-editorial ratio.

Honderich also says no feature material has been dropped from the revamped papers.

Branscombe says the new Saturday Star section is called Arts and Entertainment.

Star entertainment columnist and deputy entertainment editor Rita Zekas is said to be head of the new section.

Honderich says advertising considerations were ‘absolutely not’ a factor in the design changes.

However, the design changes at the Star come on the heels of a shakeup in the paper’s advertising department.

Until recently, there were two advertising divisions at the paper directed by Andrew Go and Bill Clark

Clark has decided on early retirement after 38 years, and the two divisions are being consolidated to combine retail, national, classified and travel, with Go taking the helm Nov. 1.

James McManus is the new assistant advertising director, with responsibility for all retail and automotive sales.

Wayne Clifton, the former director of newspaper planning, heads a new retail merchandising division, with responsibility for ad sales to department stores, mass merchandisers and food and drug chains.

Go, who is also the publisher of the Star’s weekly entertainment paper in Toronto, eye weekly, says the consolidation will cut costs and increase efficiency.

He says layoffs will not be necessary since 20 people in the advertising department have been bought out.

Go also says the redesigned papers ‘should definitely help’ advertising sales, since they will both be better looking.

Go is equally bullish on ADitus, a package of changes announced recently by Southam Newspapers.

He says the changes Southam intends to introduce Jan. 1 will be good for all newspapers, not just the chain of 17 daily papers.

Ten days ago in Toronto, Southam introduced the ADitus, which includes standardization of its rate cards; abolishment of the 2% discount for agencies; abolishment of the difference between national and retail rates at The Gazette in Montreal, The Vancouver Sun and The Province; the offering of volume discounts based on total spending by each of its clients; and the conversion to a one order-one invoice system; and more.

Sandy Muir, director of marketing, newspapers, at Southam, says the reaction from company clients to the changes has been positive.

Muir says ADitus – Latin for access to or to approach – represents the new thinking at Southam and predicts advertisers will want the same sort of service from other newspaper publishers.