Friday, September 28, 2012

The Straight

If you are walking down a Vancouver city street, there is a very good chance that you will see a news box with the paper, The Georgia Straight, inside. Today, I thought I would take a look at the history of this free arts and newspaper.

The first issue of this then biweekly paper appeared on May 5, 1967 and cost a dime. A week later, on May 12, 1967 Dan McLeod was taken away in a paddy wagon and held for three hours while an 'investigation for vagrancy' was held. College Printers refused to publish a second issue so an alternative had to be found.

That wasn't the end of the problems with the police that the fledgling newspaper had. The Georgia Straight was raided and fined for publishing obscenities and often banned from distribution. This was because the paper tended to be critical of local police and politicians. Especially local mayor Tom Campbell. Then came the seventies and the paper veered towards a more conventional news and entertainment weekly though the editorials remained progressive.

In October of 2003, The Straight - as it is known by many - received a $1 Million tax bill from the provincial government. In British Columbia, in order for a print publication to qualify for an exemption of PST (provincial sales tax) on print bills, the paper must have at least 25 percent editorial content. A large section of The Straight is their "Time Out" feature which lists where and when events are happening around the city and in the neighbouring cities. The provincial government judged this to be advertising and therefore The Straight did not meet the criteria for exemption.

According to the CBC, Dan McLeod saw this re-interpretation of the rules as a politically motivated attempt to silence an avid critic of the government. Others agreed with McLeod's reasoning but then there were those who disagreed. It became a highly publicized battle and eventually the provincial government backed down and said that The Straight was a newspaper. 

The paper has had some notable writers. Bob Geldof worked as a music journalist in the 1970s before leaving and going to Ireland to join the Boomtown Rats. A friend of mine, Martin Crosbie, has an article on self publishing in the online version of The Straight.

The Georgia Straight is published by the Vancouver Free Press Publishing Corp and comes out every Thursday. As of January 25, 2011, its per issue circulation is 119,971 and in 2009, the average weekly readership was 804,000. The paper goes into news boxes, post secondary schools, public libraries and a large variety of other places around metro Vancouver.

The online version has global website traffic of 47, 339 and 1,458 in Canada. This is according to February 27, 2012, figures from Alexa.

Thanks Wikipedia for the above information.

Don't forget! Missing Flowers is my next novel and it will be out soon. Come join me and my characters on a walk through Vancouver and its history.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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