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Georgia Straight

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Georgia Straight

For the body of water, see Strait of Georgia.

The Georgia Straight is a free Canadian weekly news and entertainment newspaper published in Vancouver, British Columbia, by the Vancouver Free Press Publishing Corp. As surveyed by VAC its per-issue circulation average as of January 25, 2011, is 119,971 copies, and its average weekly readership is 804,000 as of 2009.[1] Its website traffic ranked 47,339 globally and 1,458 within Canada, according to February 27, 2012 figures from Alexa.[2]


The paper was founded as an alternative newspaper in May 1967 by Pierre Coupey,[3] Milton Acorn,[3] Dan McLeod, Stan Persky, and others, and originally it operated as a collective.

In April 1967: "The proposed paper is christened the Georgia Straight over beer at the Cecil Hotel. The name aims to play on the fact that the weather forecasts will offer free publicity: they're always issuing gale warnings for the Georgia Strait."

The first issue appeared on May 5, 1967 and cost a dime. It was originally a biweekly. On May 12 Dan was taken away in a paddy wagon and jailed for three hours for "investigation of vagrancy." College Printers refused to print the second issue,[5] but an alternative was found.

The paper was raided and fined by the Vancouver Police for publishing obscenities, and was often banned from distribution for its criticism of the local police and politicians, especially Mayor Tom Campbell. Those controversies ended in the 1970s, as the paper moved to become a more conventional news and entertainment weekly, albeit with a progressive editorial slant.

Often known simply as The Straight, this large "tabloid" format unconventional publication is delivered to newsboxes, post-secondary schools, public libraries and a large variety of other locations around Metro Vancouver every Thursday.

In October 2003, the provincial government sent The Straight a bill totalling more than $1 million for outstanding provincial sales tax. In British Columbia, print publications must have at least 25 per cent editorial content to be considered a newspaper, and to qualify for exemption from PST on printing bills. The extensive "Time Out" listing of the paper, detailing the what and where of virtually every public event in the city, was judged to be advertising - pushing the paper below the required thresholds for a newspaper.

As reported by the CBC, publisher Dan McLeod said this re-interpretation of the rules was a politically motivated attempt to silence a persistent critic.

We're the only paper that is consistently critical of the government in our editorials week after week, and we're the only paper that's being fined a million dollars," he said. "So I put two and two together.

However, not everyone agreed with McLeod's interpretation of events and pointed out that The Straight had a significantly lower editorial-to-advertising ratio than many other alternative and university papers.[6] This highly public battle garnered considerable attention, and the BC government later issued a statement reversing their decision, stating "clearly the Georgia Straight is a newspaper..."[7]

As noted by McLeod, the paper is known as a vocal critic of government, notably the former Liberal government of Gordon Campbell.

An attempt in the mid-1990s at publishing a second Straight newspaper in Calgary, Alberta, the Calgary Straight, was brief.

Bob Geldof worked as a music journalist for the Georgia Straight in the 1970s before he returned to Ireland and joined the Boomtown Rats.

2006 The Straight moves into its own completely renovated four-storey building at 1701 West Broadway. Architect J. Kerrigan Sproule upgrades a commercial building constructed in 1948 by adding one more level of underground parking and a fourth-floor amenity space with spectacular views of the city. The fourth-floor addition includes a kitchen, lunch room, exercise room, large patio area, and a shower for employees. (We hope the cyclists make use of it.) Extensive landscaping, including 11 trees and various shrubs, transforms the Pine Street side of the site and the back alley. The emblematic Mr. Wuxtry appears on a flag hanging on the Broadway side of the building. The Straight's move comes as this section of the Broadway corridor experiences significant growth with the addition of several new restaurants and retail outlets.

A readership survey conducted on behalf of The Georgia Straight in 2007 found that:

In its core market of the City of Vancouver, 61 percent of all adults 18+ reported reading a copy of the Georgia Straight within the past six issues. By comparison, 48% of respondents indicated reading the Vancouver Sun within the past six issues (past week). The Province followed with 41% reading a copy within the past six issues (past week). The free daily, 24 Hours, had a weekly (past six issue) readership of 38%, followed by Metro at 25%.

The Georgia Straight however is a weekly newspaper so comparing six weeks of issues to one week of issues is not the best comparison.


The Straight carries feature articles, ranging from social topics, such as drug use, to in-depth looks at cultural newsmakers like the writer Salman Rushdie. Writer Charlie Smith has a record of covering women's movement issues as well. There are also many advertiser-related articles and listings on lifestyle and entertainment,commenting on restaurants, new wines, new gadgets, designer clothes, and the latest in music, theatre and movies. Rounding out the regular features are the well-known American advice columnist Dan Savage with his Savage Love, cartoons, and a local astrology column.

Special editions of The Straight include:

  • The Golden Plate Awards - March
  • The Best of Vancouver – September

The Best of Vancouver is a well known feature with whimsical notions of the best place for outdoor sex mixed in with more conventional awards such as Best Dining, Best Bar & Club and Best Radio Station.

The Straight has been criticised for publishing cigarette and other tobacco advertising when most publications in Canada have declined to do so for moral and ethical reasons. And of promoting local events that had tobacco industry sponsorship, such as the formerly Benson and Hedges-sponsored Symphony of Fire. The Straight has long been condemned for this practice by the major health groups and, more recently, by Vancouver businessman and political candidate Dale Jackaman in a series of Google attack ads.

The paper has received many awards. For example, in 1995, it received five "Western Magazine Awards", and, in the two years up to June 1996, it was nominated more than forty times and won twenty prizes, including three National Magazine Awards.[10] In 1999, The Straight won eight Western Magazine Awards, including "Magazine of the Year", and its seventh consecutive, "Best Business Article".[8]

On May 23, 2009, The Georgia Straight won the prize for "best magazine article of the year" for "The Pill Pushers" by Alex Roslin from the Canadian Association of Journalists.[11]

The paper also gives many awards based on readers' polls:

". . . the Golden Plate Awards for local restaurants, the Straight Music Awards for local musicians, and the Best of Vancouver Awards for every type of business, service, activity, and weird stuff in the city, from the best bowling alley to the best Vancouver excuse for being late for work."[12]


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