It’s been a busy few months for both eastern Canadian masthead The Coast, and for Overstory Media, the group which has just acquired it.
Overstory was founded in 2021 by Farhan Mohamed and Andrew Wilkinson with the aim of acquiring building a media network by acquisition, and now owns nine local publications in the country.
By contrast, things have been tough recently for Coast founders Kyle Shaw – who is editor – and publisher Christine Oreskovich, pictured left and right, with the difficult decision to pause print production taken in 2020.
In a statement in the much-loved weekly paper, the duo said they “owed it to (their) team and readers to find a partner that could coach and mentor the Coast into being a stronger digital media outlet”.
The paper's editorial team is staying in place, and Mohamed says Coast – which was founded in 1993 – will maintain 100 per cent creative and editorial control over the publication. He was quoted that there was always a question of what would happen when a local outlet was sold – “is a new owner gonna come in and rip it apart”, adding that “we're not like that, we're going to be a team”.
Rising operation costs, a struggle producing online content, and “general pandemic-related difficulties” have been blamed as the reason for the sale.
The Coast had earlier (March 2020) laid off 20 staff members and “paused” production of the print edition, and found the switch to online tough in the early days of COVID-19, Oreskivich commenting on the competition of Facebook and Google," Oreskivich said in an interview. "It wasn't like in the old days when you saw readership go to radio or a competitive paper, we really had to fight to get it back," he is quoted as saying.
He says being part of Overstory's “larger community” will help them meet the challenges of “how local media can be successful and stay integral”.
“They are committed to furthering hyper-local storytelling as much as we are."