By Charlize Alcaraz
A new Toronto-based digital publication is aiming to change the way Torontonians are centred in modern news reporting.
Through multimedia reporting, The Green Line serves the Toronto community with solutions to issues that impact them the most and encourage them to take action.
“We fill in gaps in coverage [within] the city, but we’re really focused on producing journalism that actually serves a Gen Z and millennial audience to help them…navigate the city,” said Anita Li, a journalism professor at Ryerson, as well as the founder and editor-in-chief of The Green Line.
In 2020, young people around the world participated in groundbreaking social movements like Black Lives Matter, combatting anti-Asian hate and more. As the COVID-19 pandemic forced most of the world’s population into isolation, activism in 2020 was partly amplified through social media.
With The Green Line’s digital platform, Li and her team said they hope to engage the youth and challenge their way of thinking to aid their community.
“I wanted to create a local outlet that helps illuminate [pathways] for young Torontonians so they can figure out things like, ‘What do I want? How do I want to live my life? How do I see success?’” said Li.
“For that reason, we’re really all about producing journalism that gets people to take action on issues that matter to them the most.”
What makes it different?
Li’s diverse background as a Canadian journalist led to her noticing some gaps in how local media covers issues within the Toronto area.
She started the first half of her career with legacy news companies such as CTV, The Globe and Mail, CBC and the Toronto Star. However, Li switched gears by the second half of her career and started working with youth and internet culture outlets like Mashable and Complex.
The gap, she said, was how they engaged with their audiences, especially the younger demographic.
“I’ve never seen a place that merges the rigor of established old school journalism with the modern take of internet culture, youth culture-driven publications,” said Li.
“I wanted a place that felt approachable…but still had very rigorous fact-checking and reporting.”
The Green Line’s debut story features Andrea Boghina, a 45-year-old woman with a disability that made accessing a COVID-19 vaccine a great challenge.
Boghina lives in the Scarborough Bluffs area, but was told that her only option to get her first vaccination was at a clinic in Mississauga. A friend was able to drive her, but if she hadn’t, it would have taken Boghina two hours each way to reach the appointment.
“It would’ve been uncomfortable. It would’ve been intimidating for me,” said Boghina in an interview with The Green Line’s Kathryn Mannie. “Physically, I just couldn’t do it. It’s a lot.”
Alongside Boghina’s story, Mannie also reported on the efforts made by the city of Toronto to assist people with disabilities in getting vaccinated and where their programs are still lacking. Reporter Stephanie Bai wrote a companion piece following what would’ve been Boghina’s four-hour commute.
“Toronto has developed programs to improve vaccine accessibility, such as partnering with Toronto Ride to provide free transportation for people with physical disabilities,” wrote Mannie.
“Everyone takes the subway. I wanted a name that felt like it was representative of the average person in the city”
Aina-Nia Grant, director of community resources for Toronto’s Social Development, Finance and Administration Division, told Mannie that the city acknowledges they have more work to do in terms of outreach.
“She also confirmed that the Toronto Board of Health is acting on…collecting aggregated data on health barriers for people with disabilities.”
Why is it called The Green Line?
Growing up in Scarborough, Li sees the infamously green Bloor-Danforth subway line as her cultural bridge to Toronto.
“It’s symbolic of accessibility, of connection because it’s a subway system. But not only that, I’m a Scarborough native and the green line was my connection to the rest of the city.”
Li also said Scarborough has been historically disconnected from Toronto, but taking the green line to go to school, work and meet with friends alleviated some of the detachment.
“Subways, to me, [are] symbolic of every person. Everyone takes the subway. So I wanted a name that felt like it was representative of the average person in the city.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that Stephanie Bai wrote The Green Line’s debut story, when it was in fact authored by Kathryn Mannie. The Eye regrets this error.