Media Central makes its second big acquisition with Georgia Straight

Purchased for $1.25 million, the independent alternative weekly joins a portfolio that includes Now Magazine and CannCentral.
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The Georgia Straight, one of Canada’s longest-running alternative weekly papers is the second publication to be purchased by Media Central, the Toronto-based media upstart that purchased Now Magazine last month.

The $1.25 million purchase of the Straight, a Vancouver publication, is slated to close Feb. 28 marking the end of its independent ownership under founder and publisher Dan McLeod.

Media Central Corporations was founded in 2019 with the goal of acquiring and developing alternative media outlets across Canada and the U.S. The company launched in the fall with cannabis culture site CannCentral and plans to build a portfolio merging print, digital and social media opportunities for local and national advertisers.

“Alternative media has set the pace for policy, trends and ideas for the past 50 years,” Brian Kalish, CEO of Media Central told MiC in an email. “It really is the heart and soul of the newspaper business.”

With The Georgia Straight Kalish said the goal is “to stay true to the voice” of the paper and “true to the McLeod family” in a similar way the company has approached its acquisition of Now with longtime owner and founder Alice Klein.

Both papers speak to the same kind of reader with the same voice consistently, Kalish explained. “[The McLeod's] have created a remarkable thing that is now into its second generation. The fun part will be to ensure we do this while building and growing its value for readers and shareholders.”

Since 1967, McLeod has been at the helm of The Georgia Straight. The publisher admits times are tough for print media; the paper had been in talks with buyers previously and its future “was looking dim.” Following Media Central’s purchase of Now Magazine, McLeod approached the company he felt shared the Straight‘s “revolutionary spirit.”

“The idea of bringing together talent from a large number of cities with strong, independent alternative papers in each individual city, really appeals to me,” McLeod said. “If everything goes according to plan, this amalgamation will not only increase the print and digital readership of each paper, but generate the revenue to support them.”

“Some people will tell you that it can’t work, but the same has been said about many ideas that went on to be very successful,” he added.

The Georgia Straight is distributed across Greater Vancouver in six different municipalities with a 97% pick up rate from its nearly 7,000 drop sites. In print, the paper reaches 2.7 million monthly readers and another 1.8 million at straight.com. The bulk of its readers are between the ages of 18 and 44 with a household income of more than $100,000, precisely the demo Media Central is after. “They envision an intelligent, active, relatively high income readership that they call ‘the creative class,’” McLeod said.

Editorial and sales staff will stay on and provide the same coverage and services from the paper’s Vancouver offices, including McLeod who says he is “happy to be part of the evolution of the Straight, and helping to integrate other papers into the Media Central group.” In December, Kalish told MiC the three- to five-year goal is to acquire a slew of alternative publications and that he already has 100 potential outlets in his view.

The transaction includes $750,000 payable in cash, $350,000 in common shares and assumption of up to $250,000 in certain accrued liabilities for 100% of the shares of VFP and its related publications. No debt will be assumed and a $150,000 advisory fee is payable in connection with the acquisition.