Haven’t heard of t.o.night? That’s probably because the two-month-old daily newspaper hits the streets mid-day, instead of first thing in the morning, like all the other papers. A strange choice, I’d say. Really stretching the expiry date of yesterday’s news. You can pick a copy up at selected downtown locations. Or just keep an eye out for people dressed as newspaper boys handing them out at street corners.
After hearing about it on BlogTO, I was curious to see what was inside Toronto’s new publication. Provocative news stories? Fresh voices? A cute comic strip starring a sarcastic cat? Nah. T.o.night is just another free commuter paper, one that seems interested in making money, rather than making an editorial statement.
Here’s my review:
1. Layout and colour
Despite similarities in format to 24 Hours, the other Toronto daily, I do like the yellow highlighted headlines, bold typeface, and clutter-free pages. It’s bright and eye-catching, which will make it stand out next to a pile of newsprints. Also, you don’t need to worry about smudging the text or getting your hands dirty since it’s published on glossy paper.
2. It’s free
… And it better be if it wants to compete with the other dailies. There aren’t many advertisements, which makes the best — and worse — features of the paper stand out. I’ll take the crossword puzzle, but would pass on the Movies section. Do people read full-page theatre listings anymore?
1. Bad timing
Launching a newspaper during a recession is a bad idea. Launching a paper when print media is being phased out by the Internet is, well, a bit like taking the scenic route to the land of defunct newspapers.
2. Lack of original & local content
Besides a few reprinted pieces from BlogTO, the paper missed the mark on local content. I expected there to be Toronto-centric stories in a Toronto paper. What I saw in the October 16th edition, however, were repurposed articles from the Associated and Canadian Press. Even the weather report contained temperature readings from cities in the east and west coast of Canada. Basically, it’s hard to take t.o.night seriously when it forgets the T.O. part.
3. Crappy website
Why bother printing the website address when there is nothing on the website? No news, articles, or links to news. Didn’t even bother to Rick Roll me. How sad.
4. Strange additions
The Oct. 16 issue suggested readers check out a YouTube video of a blind kid jumping into a pool. Hmm, can’t click the page in the newspaper, guess I’ll never know what happened to the boy. There were also random shoutouts sent in by readers. Most were birthday wishes but one message read: “Baby, don’t forget about next week. Love ya, T.D. XX.” I’m sure this was an innocent note, but it’s hard not to giggle.
T.o.night could use a relaunch, or rather, a redo. It needs fresh, original content and a real website. Then again, if it were a web entity, it might as well be BlogTO. If history repeats itself, I predict a Dose-like demise or a company takeover. It takes a phenomenal product to beat the odds. That or a ridiculous amount of money.