Toronto Star afternoon edition in PDF format. What were they thinking?

Toronto StarJust over thirteen months ago, the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest circulation newspaper, launched a special afternon PDF format edition of the newspaper that was targeted at commuters who might want to download and print a hard copy to read on the way home. At that time, Michael Goldblum, then-publisher of the Star said, “Star P.M. is designed to satisfy people’s craving for breaking news and the up to the minute information they need, in a format that meets their needs at the end of the day.”

My take at the time:

Add to the current mix downloadable podcast content, the ability to take emails and web content out of the office on BlackBerries and even to use these devices to surf the web for up to the minute content – and it seems to me that the Star is chasing a miniscule set of readers.

There are many innovate people at the Star and in the newspaper industry. And they will evolve the medium to compete with the new media. But this initiative by the Star isn’t really a step forward. It smacks too much of simply trying to apply the old model to a new medium. And I can’t believe that will work.

Well, news today that the Star has thrown in the towel on the PDF experiment. They’ve replaced it with a mobile edition that will offer the full text of Star stories formatted to be read on the small screen of a mobile device. The main content will be published at 3:30PM “and updated with breaking news and closing market numbers until 4:15.” Readers can subscribe to email alerts that will be delivered to their email boxes at 3:30 and 4:15.

OK. This is better. But not quite as good as it could be. Where are the RSS feeds? In the era of smartphones like the Nokia N90 and the iPhone. I can’t understand why the good folks at the Star don’t slap an RSS feed on all of their content. (Yes, I can find RSS feeds on the main thestar.com site. But why make me look on a separate site?)

So, to the Toronto Star, my compliments for learning from the PDF experience and moving to a mobile platform. But don’t stop there. Add those RSS feeds so that I can receive your news in the mobile format of my choice.

  • Good point on the RSS feeds. SMS alerts for breaking news would be great – or how about a website that is optimized for the web? That way if you want more of a full experience (which RSS doesn’t always offer), you can still get it on your PDA / mobile device.

    m.torontostar.com or torontostar.mobi would be nice