Atkinson was a strong liberal and wanted to publish a paper for ‘ordinary people’ that would target the general public. As a man who had gone through hardships of his own, Atkinson sought to address social issues that he believed needed changing. He began making significant changes to the paper, adding things like a jazzed-up sports page, editorials on women’s issues and even changing the name of the paper to The Toronto Daily Star in 1900. A wise business man, Atkinson kept a close eye on expenses, increasing circulation by three thousand in the just the first year; in 1903, circulation surpassed 20,000 and in 1905, surpassed 37,000. By 1913, The Star was the largest paper in Toronto, and the largest newspaper in Canada with a circulation of 175,000 in 1929. Despite the effects of The Depression in the 1930s, The Star continued to thrive.
During his time at The Star, Atkinson helped to establish Canada’s welfare system, publishing detailed articles on social reform policies from other countries, pressing for the same type of action at home. He campaigned for things like single mother welfare, unemployment benefits, pensions for retirement, minimum wages, labour unions and a national health plan.
After his death in 1948, his trustees took over The Star, with his son, Joseph, as the chairman of the board and president of his Atkinson Charitable Foundation (founded in 1942), and his son-in-law, Harry C. Hindmarsh, as president. In 1958, The Star was officially sold to the Atkinson Foundation for $25,555,000, the highest paid price for a newspaper up to that day. On November 6, 1971, the paper became ‘The Toronto Star‘, and even after a century after its inception, The Star still continues to uphold the same values that Atkinson had instilled many decades prior.