David Topping leaves Torontoist for OpenFile Toronto

David Topping has left his post as editor of news blog Torontoist — a job he’s held for the last four and a half years — to become Toronto editor of OpenFile.ca, a new collaborative online hyperlocal journalism project. He is being replaced by longtime TOist Hamutal Dotan.

In an introductory note on OpenFile.ca, Topping welcomes his new challenge.

“What else makes us different is that we’re not interested in repeating and rewriting the same news you’ve already read about in a dozen other places. More often than not now, when someone breaks a story, some other newspaper will rewrite it citing unspecified “reports,” some blog’ll re-write that, some evening news show will scrunch it down to two minutes, and then, a day or two later, every one of them will forget about it forever. We’re not interested in that; we want everything we give you to be something new, something different, something unexpected, something better. Starting soon, we’ll collect and curate the best of whatever else is out there, but otherwise, we’re going to do what we do really, really well, and let everyone else do what they do really, really well.

“OpenFile Toronto, in other words, won’t be everything to everyone, but we want to be something to you. With any luck, we’re going to do a lot of good together.”

The site — the brainchild of Toronto-born journalist Wilf Dinnick — launched in spring 2010 with a focus on freelancers and a goal to fill gaps in traditional coverage by focusing on local content and encouraging members to submit story ideas.

At the time, Craig Silverman wrote:

“Journalism has long been home to the ranks of the self-employed. Today, more than ever before, newsrooms are turning to freelancers for writing, photography, video and other services and content. Rather than seeing this simply as a symptom of the recession, we at OpenFile consider it part of a fundamental shift in the world of work — a shift that media organizations need to recognize and embrace…. We kept the new world of news and work in mind as we developed the OpenFile beta. Rather than hire a large staff of reporters, we’re going to work with freelancers who live in neighbourhoods all over the city and who have varied areas of expertise and interest. This enables us to match the story with the right writer, rather than just assigning it to the closest warm body.”

OpenFile’s “about” section reads:

“We are an independent online newsgathering organization dedicated to local journalism. OpenFile’s journalists and editors research, write, and share stories that matter to Torontonians. We embrace a collaborative approach to news by encouraging members of the community to participate in the editorial and reporting processes, thereby helping us expand the depth and breadth of the conversation.

“We try to be open-minded without being too earnest. We promise not to be snarky. (Well, not too snarky.) We want to hear what you have to say about what we’ve written and what we should write about next. We want to investigate the stories that matter to you; the ones the mainstream media doesn’t have the time or resources to cover. And while we can’t cover everything, we’ll do our best — and you can help by directing us towards what matters most to you.”