Monthly print paper defies trends, poised to launch in Toronto

Slow print, small run, mighty and true – that’s the opening text on the website for the soon-to-be published West End Phoenix, a not for profit real-live print newspaper being launched in Toronto next month.

It’s been cooked up by Dave Bidini, a name some will remember as main man in Canadian indie rock band The Rheostatics.

What a lovely idea! Bidini’s paper will be a monthly broadsheet. It’s ad-free and is supported by patrons and subscribers. The West End Phoenix will have a minor web presence, publishing a few stories online after they have appeared in print. And perhaps some video.

The staff of five said they were going for 1000 subscriptions before Labour Day – a tweet on Sepember 3 indicates that mission was accomplished:

What’s great about this idea?

  • it’s a space for writers to propose, research, write and publish longform stories about issues that matter to them – and get paid to do it
  • it brings back the best of community papers – want ads, local news, stuff about people you know doing stuff
  • it provides work for some of Canada’s many talented, layed-off journalists
  • it focuses on a geographically targeted group of readers who have quite lieterally bought in.

Says Bidini in a statement: “I believe that our diverse and wild neighbourhood has the appetite for long-form writing, rich photography and beautiful newsprint, and for the Pet of the Month and some fine comics at the back of the paper, too.”

The founder has lived in Toronto’s West End for 23 years, in a house he bought from his grandmother. He plans to use voices from the diverse, evolving neighbourhood to bring the area to life and narrate its progress. They’ve partnered with Toronto District School Board as a way to bring younger voices to the pages as well.

The West End Phoenix will cover an area from the Annex to High Park and St. Clair to the lake.

In an era of closing newspapers, gutted newsrooms and plunging profits for media organizations it’s bold to spawn a product “devoted to the magic and power of print” – as stated on their website. Bravo Bidini and best of luck!

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