A crowd gathered at the swanky Brant House on King St. West in Toronto last night to witness the reincarnation of Toro Magazine as an online-only publication. The revamped and reimagined website went live at 6:30 p.m. yesterday.
The main man behind the project, executive producer William Morassuti, gave a brief demonstration of the content while the audience sipped beverages and gobbled up appetizers. I spoke to Morassutti before the party and distilled our conversation down to five facts about the relaunch that will be of interest to people in our industry.
1. None of the magazine’s original editorial staff is involved in the relaunch. (We listed the current masthead in an earlier story, which can be found here.) Of the former contributors, only Dave Bidini (sports) and David Eddie (Damage Control) are back (they’re both doing video columns, which are a major part of the website). On the publishing side, Morassutti has partnered with Christopher Bratty, who backed the original print launch, to found Black Angus Media, which owns toromagazine.com.
2. The website essentially offers no paying opportunities for freelancers. Morassutti says that while he’s open to hearing pitches, he expects all “professional” content will be produced in-house and by the contributors already on board (including Bidini, Eddie, Rebecca Addelman, Nick Flanagan, Jimmy Hogg and Steve Ricci).
3. You won’t get paid for it, but anyone who wants to contribute to the magazine can do so in something called The Arena, a forum for user-generated content that allows “readers” to post columns, blogs and videos. This content will then be ranked by readers and the highest-ranking work will be pulled out and appear on the main page, Morassutti says. (See our earlier report on the “labour-exchange model” in the “economy of free.”)
4. For advertising purposes, Toro has partned with Gorilla Nation, a company that specializes in “creative integration” for online advertising, which includes contests, video ads and sponsorship, the last of which Morassutti believes will be the “key revenue model” for online ad sales. Chevrolet, Ford, Molson Canadian, Mercedez and Xbox currently have campaigns running on the site.
5. The website is built on Drupal, a free, open-source software platform. When asked whether the site has enough bandwidth to hold all the uploaded content from users, Morassutti responded, “To have a problem where I have too big an audience is a problem I’d love to have.”