Torstar signs agreement to purchase political website iPolitics

Torstar Corp. announced Thursday it has signed an agreement to acquire Ottawa–based political website iPolitics Inc.

Newspaper publisher says plan is to expand Toronto Star coverage of Parliament Hill

The company that owns the Toronto Star newspaper has signed a deal to buy iPolitics Inc., an Ottawa-based digital news service. (Eduardo Lima/Canadian Press)

Torstar Corp. announced Thursday that it has signed an agreement to acquire iPolitics Inc., a digital political website based in Ottawa.

The deal is expected to close on or around Oct. 1. 

In a written statement, Torstar president and CEO John Boynton praised iPolitics for its "proven record of providing extensive online coverage of federal and provincial politics and government policies across Canada."

The plan is to expand the Toronto Star's coverage of politics with select iPolitics content while maintaining and extending offerings on, said Boynton, also publisher of the Star.

"This unique opportunity will allow us to provide critical in-depth policy coverage from iPolitics along with the highly recognized reporting and opinion columns from the Star's Ottawa team," he said.

The two organizations will maintain separate Ottawa bureaus. 

Founded in 2010 by editor James Baxter, iPolitics Inc. runs a network of digital and social media sites offering, including through subscriptions, daily political news, a quarterly magazine, podcasts and parliamentary monitoring services.

Bob Hepburn, director of communications for Torstar, said the deal includes all assets of iPolitics Inc. He declined to share the sale price. 

"By teaming with the Toronto Star and Torstar's other outlets, the iPolitics team will be able to reach more Canadians and work within an organization that has principles of public-service journalism at its core," said Baxter in a statement about the sale.

Torstar already runs QP Briefing, a subscription-based digital and mobile news source covering Ontario politics and legislative news.

Christopher Waddell, a professor at Carleton University's School of Journalism and Communications, says he wasn't surprised to hear about the sale agreement.

"I know there's been discussions underway for quite awhile that stretch back probably a couple of years, back and forth," he said.

Waddell said the deal with a subscription-based specialty publisher fits with the direction of the paper under Boynton's leadership. 

"They're moving in a direction where they're putting all their information behind pay walls — the regular Star as well," he said. "I think where they're headed in part is where lots of news organizations are headed in thinking that people will pay for specified content, particularly if you can provide that content in more depth and more detail."