Look here! The Straight is back. Hooray!
I’m sure you're wondering what’s been happening with the Georgia Straight over the past couple months. Or maybe you’re just now realizing that something’s been going on. That’s cool too. In any case, now that you’re here, let me bore you with some of the details of what we’re doing and where we’re going.
Overstory Media Group bought the Straight in late September, after the previous owners had ceased printing the paper. Today, we’ve released our first newsletter under new ownership.
For those wondering, I’m Steve, the publisher, which is a weird thing to write, since I started my journalism career way back in 2007 as an intern at the Straight.
The thing is, I’ve always loved the Straight. Like any left-brained, hipsterized Vancouver-area youth, I was influenced by its pages in incalculable ways. It fueled my absurd desire to be a “writer” or whatever it was I thought I was doing. All of this was rooted in my love of the heady, whimsical, and countercultural spirit of the city as I knew it in the Nineties and early Oughts.
I shared the same pervasive feeling as nearly everyone else as the publication’s influence waned, its pages grew more anemic: “It’s too bad what’s happened to the Straight.”
Let me be clear – what “happened” to the Straight is complex, the result of a long decline in print revenue and industry-wide disruption and evolution; of questionable management and something like complacency in the ranks.
This isn’t just my observation – we’ve spoken to close to 20 former Straight staff as we work to rebuild this team. The assessment is more or less the same from everyone: A confluence of complicated factors, spurred by a challenging and dramatic decade and a half, which all peaked with the paper’s sale to a Toronto-based media company at precisely the moment the pandemic hit. This all brought the Straight to the brink of oblivion. It came very close to that.
And credit where credit’s due: Long-time managing editor Charlie Smith and the skeleton crew he managed at the tail end of his tenure did an admirable job staving off that oblivion. They did everything they could to save it. The advertisers too – almost all of them in grassroots arts operations – continued to support the publication until the very end.
Seriously. Thank you all.
It’s a weird thing, though. Publications come and go. I’ve been at the Westender and the Courier, both long since folded, victims of the same confluence of factors that brought most other publications down. I rarely, if ever, hear anyone bemoaning the loss of these papers, save for those who lost their jobs (which is totally valid). There’s a general feeling that, ah well, it is what it is.
But like I said, the Straight is different. People genuinely seemed to miss it, myself included. And now that news of the Overstory sale is public, the excitement is real, the encouragement surprising. I realize now that Vancouver needs a healthy Georgia Straight – and it deserves one, too.
Sometime soon, the Georgia Straight as you’ve known it will be revamped. It will look and feel different than it does now, but in a way that keeps its soul intact. That’s fundamental. If there’s one thing I’m making sure of, it’s that: Keep the soul of the thing. That means an incisive, funny, and thoughtful publication, one that helps us understand ourselves as Vancouverites and our place in the world just a little better.
That starts today with our first newsletter under Overstory’s ownership. We’ll issue it once per week, then twice per week in the near future. Our first print edition arrives later this month.
To help deliver on all this, we’re bringing in several former Straight personnel. Details will come as we have them, but if you’re itching to find out more, like, right this bloody second, hit me up: email@example.com.
Ciao for now.