TORONTO — Media Central Corp. Inc. says it will buy Vancouver’s Georgia Straight alternative weekly newspaper and associated publications in a deal valued at $1.25 million, including cash and shares.
It’s the second recent acquisition for Media Central, which said last month it would pay up to $2 million to buy Toronto alternative weekly Now Magazine.
Georgia Straight founder Dan McLeod says he saw potential in Media Central’s plans for Now, announced Dec. 2. His son, general manager Matt McLeod, negotiated the deal.
In addition to the Georgia Straight, Media Central will acquire straight.com and straightcannabis.ca. Its other publications include the cannabis-focused online site CannCentral as well as Now Magazine and nowtoronto.com
Media Central chief executive Brian Kalish says there’s an opportunity to tap into a stable readership developed over the years by alternative weeklies across North America.
Georgia Straight has an estimated 2.7 million readers per month through its print edition and an additional 1.8 million through its website.
“The Straight is a highly trusted Vancouver institution,” Kalish said in a statement.
“The Georgia Straight brings more than 50 years of respected, award-winning local journalism and an influential loyal audience of 4.5 million monthly readers to the Media Central family.”
However, Dan McLeod acknowledged in an interview that weeklies have been hit by the same decline in advertising that has affected most other print publications since the rise in digital alternatives.
“But I think that Media Central has a plan to move forward. They’re going to buy up a lot of alternative papers and they have some innovative ideas. So I think they have a good chance to make a go of it.”
McLeod says he’s semi-retired, but will remain available in an advisory capacity. He expects Media Central will retain the company’s other staff to run the Vancouver operation.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 6, 2020.
Jimmy Lai, Hong Kong Media Baron, Is Arrested Over Role in Protests – The New York Times
HONG KONG — A Hong Kong media tycoon known for his ardent opposition to China was arrested on Friday over his role in a pro-democracy protest last year, the police said, dealing another blow to the city’s independent media.
The tycoon, Jimmy Lai, a rare figure among Hong Kong’s elite for his willingness to take on Beijing, owns Next Media Group, which publishes a popular pro-democracy newspaper and website called Apple Daily. His arrest comes as the city has been dealing with the twin shocks of the protest movement and now the coronavirus outbreak.
His singular status as a prominent businessman in Hong Kong who openly supports the democracy movement and antigovernment protests has made him a frequent target of Beijing-backed elements.
Mr. Lai was arrested on allegations of taking part in an unauthorized assembly on Aug. 31, a police spokesman said Friday, without specifically naming him. That day, crowds of protesters defied a police ban on their march and clashed with riot officers. Two other veteran pro-democracy activists were also arrested on Friday over their roles in the protest.
The unexpected, high-profile arrests, which took place at the activists’ homes, were made as Hong Kong, already rocked by months of protests last year, battled to contain the coronavirus outbreak, which has fueled panic and further distrust of the authorities.
Mr. Lai was also arrested on allegations of “criminal intimidation” over an incident three years ago, the police spokesman said. Oriental Daily, a pro-Beijing publication, published a clip from an exchange that day, on June 4, 2017, which showed Mr. Lai using foul language and uttering threats at one of its reporters at a vigil commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.
“Finally arrested after more than two and a half years,” the site’s headline read. It was unclear what had preceded the exchange.
Mark Simon, Mr. Lai’s top aide, confirmed the arrest.
The arrests were made the same week as a court in China sentenced a Hong Kong bookseller, Gui Minhai, to 10 years in prison. Mr. Gui sold gossipy books about China’s leaders and disappeared mysteriously in Thailand in 2015 and later emerged as a target of China’s effort to quell dissent.
The arrests on Friday morning came after the arrests of more than 7,000 demonstrators since June as part of the Hong Kong government’s campaign to clamp down on the protest movement.
China has worked relentlessly to vilify Mr. Lai, who has provided a powerful, wide-reaching platform to the mostly young and leaderless protesters in Hong Kong.
In a Facebook post on Friday, the Labour Party in Hong Kong confirmed that the police had arrested its vice-chairman, Lee Cheuk-yan, a longtime democracy advocate, over his role in the Aug. 31 march. It condemned the police for “indiscriminate arrests” and “suppressing Hong Kong people’s right to protest.”
Yeung Sum, another activist and former chairman of the Democratic Party, was also arrested on Friday, the party said.
Alexandra Stevenson contributed reporting.
Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, 2 others arrested on illegal assembly charges-media – National Post
HONG KONG — Hong Kong publishing tycoon Jimmy Lai, an outspoken critic of Beijing, and two other pro-democracy activists were arrested by police on Friday on charges of illegal assembly, local media reported.
Lai, a self made millionaire who has been a major financial patron of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, was picked up by police at his house, Cable TV and TVB News reported.
Apple Daily, one of the publications under media company Next Digital in which Lai is non-executive chairman, said he was accused of participating in an illegal march on Aug. 31.
Veteran democracy activists Lee Cheuk-yan and Yeung Sum were also arrested on Friday on the same charges, Cable TV reported.
Lai, Lee and Yeung could not be reached immediately for comment.
Hong Kong police would not confirm the arrests to Reuters and said they would not comment further.
The arrests come after a period of relative calm in the Asian financial hub following months of intense anti-government protests.
Authorities in Hong Kong have arrested more than 7,000 people for their involvement in the protests, many on charges of rioting that can carry jail terms of up to 10 years. It is unclear how many are still in custody.
Public anger has grown over the months due to perceptions of China tightening its grip over the city. Beijing denies meddling and blames the West for fomenting unrest.
Lai was previously arrested in 2014 for refusing to leave a key pro-democracy protest site in the center of the city. Following his arrest he resigned as editor in chief of Apple Daily. He has also come under scrutiny from Hong Kong’s anti-graft agency when they raided his home in 2014. (Reporting by Donny Kwok; Writing by Farah Master; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)
Chinese-Canadian community using social media to co-ordinate self-quarantines to prevent spread of COVID-19 – National Post
While a group of 23 Chinese-Canadian doctors are calling on the federal government to require everyone flying in from China to enter a 14-day quarantine to avoid the spread of COVID-19, many in the community are already doing just that.
There’s a network of dozens of WeChat groups run by volunteers across the country that are facilitating self-quarantines, said Nelly Gong, a Mississauga, Ont., insurance agent who came to Canada more than two decades ago.
Volunteers on the Chinese social media app drop off groceries for people under self-quarantine and facilitate “no-touch” pick-ups from the airport, meaning they arrange for a running car to be waiting in the pick-up zone. Sometimes a volunteer will offer up their home for the returning person to stay in, or their family.
I don’t think we prepared enough
Gong said for those who have seen how serious the situation is in China, 14 days in quarantine is a small sacrifice to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to their friends, family members and neighbours.
“I don’t know how this virus will spread — how serious it will be in Canada,” Gong said. “I don’t think we prepared enough at this point.”
Dr. Stanley Zheng, one of the group of doctors calling for the quarantines, shares Gong’s concern. The Toronto family physician told the National Post’s Tom Blackwell on Wednesday that the federal government should make 14-day quarantines mandatory for all people arriving from China and the world’s other COVID-19 “hot spots.” The Public Health Agency of Canada currently only advises people travelling from Wuhan to isolate themselves.
Gong said the WeChat groups could be a model for how to manage more self-quarantines across Canada.
According to the World Health Organization’s daily report, as of Feb. 27 there were 82,294 confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world, 78,630 of them in China. The coronavirus has killed 2,747 people in China and 57 elsewhere. Canada has identified 13 cases — six in Ontario and seven in British Columbia.
“How are we going to manage if it bursts out?” Gong said.
As a community leader — Gong is a volunteer with United Way and co-chair of Peel Regional Police’s Chinese Advisory Committee — Gong often gets contacted directly by people returning from China who want to know what they should do. She connects them with the appropriate WeChat group and supports the process behind the scenes.
Each group has one or more leaders and a national one comprised of group leaders has 53 members, Gong said. The Montreal group has almost 300 members, Toronto has two groups with more than 200 members combined, and numerous other groups have more than 100 members. People use the app to keep track of how many people are in isolation, and for how long. Once someone exits quarantine, they often stay on as a volunteer, Gong said.
Some workplaces have been supportive, giving people time off, or shipping a laptop to their employees home. Others have been forced to take unpaid leave, Gong said.
Han Dong, the Liberal MP for Don Valley North, said he’s heard of the Chinese-Canadian community’s efforts. People are “very concerned” and have experienced racist incidents in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Dong said. The community’s response has been to do everything they can to ensure the virus doesn’t spread.
“They don’t want to give it to their neighbours,” Dong said. “We see that a lot in Canadian society. People look after each other.”
Dong said that none of the people who have self-quarantined themselves have developed COVID-19 symptoms. But with reported cases of people who have transmitted the virus without showing any signs of being sick themselves, the quarantines may still have prevented additional cases.
“We have done quite well so far, considering the traffic from the U.S. and the world,” Dong said. “In the next couple of weeks we may have a tougher situation.”
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