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Overstory Media buys Georgia Straight

Upstart media company plans to reinstate the 55-year-old publication's arts and entertainment section
Bundles of Georgia Straight newspapers are in the back of a delivery truck.

Overstory Media Group today announced that it has acquired the 55-year-old urban weekly newspaper, the Georgia Straight.

No acquisition price was immediately revealed, but the Straight's previous owner, Media Central Corp. Inc. filed for an assignment in bankruptcy in March. That Toronto-based venture had acquired the Straight in 2020.

Media Central Corp. merged the Straight's editorial department with marketing and sales, and eliminated the paper's long-standing focus on local arts and culture coverage, according to Overstory.

The move returns the Vancouver-based news, lifestyle, and entertainment outlet to West Coast ownership.

The May 2021-founded Overstory now operates 13 publications, including the Vancouver Tech Journal, the Burnaby Beacon and the Fraser Valley Current. 

"Overstory's first action will be to reinstate the Straight's arts and culture focus and enhance its exceptional coverage of local events, entertainment, music, food, and news," Overstory said in a news release.

"As part of this effort, the Straight will continue to host some of the city's most beloved, well-known cultural events, including the Best of Vancouver and Golden Plates awards. Overstory is already hiring, with multiple open roles posted on their job board, including arts editor, music editor, and food writer."

Overstory's CEO Farhan Mohamed wrote on LinkedIn that "growing up in Vancouver, the Straight meant so much. It was different. It was the beating heart of the city's culture."

In May 1967, life-long Vancouver resident Dan McLeod launched the Straight as part of a collective with Pierre Coupey, Milton Acorn and Stan Persky. McLeod edited and published the newspaper until 2020. 

The Straight has a reputation for being an outspoken alternative media outlet. It engaged in legendary battles with former Vancouver Mayor Tom Campbell, who tried in vain to have the paper shut down.

McLeod also battled provincial governments, such as the one led by former Premier Gordon Campbell. The Straight was sent a bill in excess of $1 million for unpaid provincial sales tax (PST). The Straight did not qualify for an exemption from the PST on printing bills, according to the government, because it did not have at least 25 per cent editorial content.

The paper also has the distinction of having Live Aid organizer and former Boomtown Rats singer Bob Geldof as one of its former journalists.