The Toronto Star has named Irene Gentle as its new editor, the first woman to hold the job in the newspaper’s history.
Ms. Gentle joined the Star in 2011 as its business editor, later taking the lead in the paper’s city section, before becoming managing editor in 2016.
“Leading a newsroom as talented and committed as this one, especially at this time in our industry and as we unleash our transformation, is a great privilege and a responsibility that I take very seriously,” Ms. Gentle said in a statement.
Ms. Gentle succeeds Michael Cooke, who announced earlier this year that he would be retiring in June after leading the paper’s editorial operations for nine years.
The leadership change occurs at a time of transition at the Star, which is grappling with the financial pressures being felt throughout the print industry.
As with many traditional media outlets, relatively modest returns from digital advertising have failed to make up for steep declines in the Star’s print advertising revenues.
Last year, Torstar Corp.’s daily brands division, which includes, among other papers, the Star and The Hamilton Spectator, saw a 32-per-cent decline in national print advertising, and a 10-per-cent decline in local advertising over the prior year.
Torstar recently announced a number of new initiatives aimed at reshaping the Star’s business model.
“It is a combination of things but they all connect to one thing, which is reinventing the core,” John Boynton, CEO of Torstar Corp., said in a conference call with investors last month.
In April, Torstar rebranded its chain of free dailies to StarMetro with enhanced local coverage in cities such as Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, part of an effort to expand the Star brand nationally.
And in May, Mr. Boynton announced a plan to reintroduce a digital subscription model to charge readers for online content. The Star last put up a paywall in 2013, but scrapped it less than two years later.
Ms. Gentle is a good candidate to help take the Star in a new direction, Mr. Boynton said in a statement. “She has a deep understanding and commitment to the transformation initiative now under way across our company.”