BREAKING: Overstory Media Group announces purchase of the Georgia Straight

The Victoria-based media company will be taking over the vaunted Vancouver publication.

Georgia Straight

The Victoria-based media company will be taking over the vaunted Vancouver publication

The Georgia Straight is getting its third owner in 55 years.  

Right before the pandemic, the previously independently owned Straight was sold to Toronto-based Media Central Corporation, which had also purchased Toronto’s Now magazine. Both the publications fell on hard times, and Media Central ended up declaring bankruptcy in March of this year.  

Now, Overstory Media Group (OMG), which owns community news organizations across the country like Halifax’s The Coast and Victoria’s Capital Daily, as well as local outlets Vancouver Tech Journal, Fraser Valley Current and Burnaby Beacon, has purchased the Straight. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

“One of the things the past few years have shown is that the Straight has gone through some challenges,” says Farhan Mohamed, co-founder and CEO of OMG. “Everything from editorial and marketing and sales, to cutting focus on what was their core. We’re going to use it as an opportunity to rebuild what the Straight is and take our time. We’re trying, quite honestly, to take it back to the glory days, when it was focused on things like arts, music, food, events and entertainment.” 

That plan includes, for the time being, printing the physical version of the newspaper. None of OMG’s current publications have print versions. “We’re looking to see how we can keep print going,” says Mohamed, noting that the Straight stopped printing weekly over the past month.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people across Vancouver and the Lower Mainland that depend on the Straight. So we’re going to talk to people, and try to understand what they want and need, and think about how we can continue to keep it going in that way. We’ve got all these street boxes all over the place—what’s going to make sense? How can we keep it sustainable and keep it around for another half century or more?” 

Whether that will continue with the current staff—which includes long-time editors like Charlie Smith and Mike Usinger—is a little more unclear. Mohamed notes that “it’s an asset purchase,” and that OMG is looking to bring on some 5-10 staff in roles that he calls “specific to the rebuild.”  

As a Vancouverite who grew up reading the Straight, Mohamed isn’t taking the task ahead of him lightly. “It’s a Vancouver institution, it’s a household name,” he bluntly offers. “So many people have a strong connection to this thing, it’s such a core piece to Vancouver. The Straight helped people discover more about their city, and it was also—especially in the past 10-to-20 years—a place that discovered writers, that put the spotlight on them and helped them build their careers. It’s such a cool feeling and also a gigantic responsibility that we’ve got this 50-plus year-old entity now and we have to do right by it.” 

He’s also confident that the Straight fits perfectly in his organization’s focus on creating quality news organizations that serve their communities first and foremost.  

“You think about all these different arts organizations that have gone through hell over the last few years, and the Straight wasn’t there to help them through it,” he says. “I think it’s shameful that that happened. I want us to be there. Our goal is simple: we want to bring back and make the Straight the premier destination for arts, entertainment, culture, food and news in the city. That’s our goal, and we need partners to come on and readers to get on board. I hope people will give it a chance and help it get through the next 55 years.”