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Biography & Autobiography Editors, Journalists, Publishers

Above the Fold

A Personal History of the Toronto Star

by (author) John Honderich

Publisher
McClelland & Stewart
Initial publish date
Nov 2022
Category
Editors, Journalists, Publishers, General, Corporate & Business History
  • Hardback

    ISBN
    9780771000201
    Publish Date
    Nov 2022
    List Price
    $35.00

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Description

A remarkable memoir and journalistic history of the Toronto Star, the newspaper that has shaped and continues to shape the issues most important to Canadians.

Don't let them ruin the newspaper. . . These were the dying words of Beland Honderich to his son, John. The newspaper was the Toronto Star, founded in 1892 by Joseph E. (Holy Joe) Atkinson and, to this day, one of the world’s leading and most respected socially liberal broadsheets. For the second half of its legendary—and sometimes controversial—history, both John and his father, as successive editors, publishers, and family owners, made it into the newspaper we know today. The Star has been, at different times, home base to the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Morley Callaghan, Pierre Berton, June Callwood, Peter C. Newman, Gary Lautens, Robert Fulford, Richard Gwyn, Christie Blatchford, Michele Landsberg, Chantal Hébert, Joey Slinger, and many more. It also brandishes a corporate history unlike any other. In an extraordinary exercise of arbitrary power, the Ontario government held veto power over all of the Star's operations until the paper eventually evolved to the five families of the Torstar Voting Trust, one of which were the Honderichs. And in that process, those families committed in court to observe and promote the intellectual and spiritual basis on which the Star has always operated.
 
Completed just weeks before the author’s untimely death, Above the Fold gives us an on-the-ground account of how the Star, once known primarily for its tabloid sensationalism and screaming headlines, transformed into a bastion of journalistic quality that routinely wins the industry’s highest honours and accolades. Honderich writes about the paper he loved and the challenges it faced over the years, including crippling strikes, boardroom battles, soaring egos, the vicious newspaper wars with various competitors, and, most recently, the shift away from print. He also delves deeply into his relationship with his father, who could be remarkably cold and unfeeling toward his son and others, earning the nickname ”The Beast.” There was great love between the two men but it came at a cost both professionally and, of course, personally. Always worried about accusations of nepotism as he rose to the top job at the paper, John felt he needed to prove himself that much more, which he did—and then some. 
 
Honest, frank, generous, and highly informative, Above the Fold is a  personal history of one of the most storied and successful newspapers of our time, told through the lives of the father and son who ran it for close to half-a-century.
 

About the author

Contributor Notes

JOHN HONDERICH was the publisher of the Toronto Star from 1994–2004, as well as President of Torstar Corporation. After receiving his law degree, he entered journalism in 1973 as an office boy and night reporter for the Ottawa Citizen, joining the Star in 1976. He was a member of both the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario, and the 2019 recipient of the Canadian Journalism Foundation’s lifetime achievement award. The Honderich family, along with the other four Voting Trust families, sold the Star in 2020. John Honderich died in February 2022 at the age of 75.