Georgia Straight sold to Media Central Corp. for $1.25M

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The Media Central Corporation Inc. has moved to buy the Vancouver-based Georgia Straight newspaper for $1.25 million.

In addition to the weekly print publication, which began as an anti-establishment newspaper in 1967, Media Central is poised to acquire straight.com and straightcannabis.ca, it announced Monday. 

It’s the second recent acquisition for the company. Last month, Media Central, which has an address in Vaughn, Ont., said it was acquiring Now Magazine — Toronto’s weekly alternative paper — and its website for $2 million.

Its other publications include the cannabis-focused website CannCentral.

The Georgia Straight currently has an estimated 2.7 million readers of its print edition, and another 1.8 million readers online.

Founder Dan McLeod says he saw potential in Media Central’s plans for Now, which were announced Dec. 2. His son, general manager Matt McLeod, negotiated the deal.

Media Central’s chief executive, Brian Kalish, said there’s an opportunity to tap into a stable readership developed over the years by alternative weeklies across North America.

“The Straight is a highly trusted Vancouver institution,” Kalish said in a statement.

“The Georgia Straight brings more than 50 years of respected, award-winning local journalism and an influential loyal audience of 4.5 million monthly readers to the Media Central family.”

The Georgia Straight celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017. (The Georgia Straight)

Decline in advertising

The half-century-old alternative weekly was founded by University of British Columbia math student Dan McLeod. Over the years, the paper has been temporarily banned and McLeod said he was briefly jailed.

McLeod acknowledged in an interview that weeklies have been hit by the same decline in advertising that has affected most other print publications since the rise in digital alternatives.

“But I think that Media Central has a plan to move forward. They’re going to buy up a lot of alternative papers and they have some innovative ideas. So, I think they have a good chance to make a go of it,” he said.

The closeup of the cover of the first issue of the Georgia Straight newspaper in 1967. Many early writers were environmentalists and anti-war activists. (The Georgia Straight)

McLeod says he’s semi-retired but will remain available in an advisory capacity. He expects Media Central will retain the company’s other staff to run the Vancouver operation.

Media Central Corporation Inc. is listed on the Canadian Securities exchange and describes itself as an independent media company that’s moving to acquire and develop publishing assets.

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