EXCLUSIVE: Over the Mountain Journal changes editors after 17 years

Over the Mountain Journal, a suburban Birmingham biweekly newspaper, has changed editors after 17 years.

Publisher Maury Wald laid off editor Cara Clark in March “due to the economic slump we’re continuing to struggle with.” The newspaper also laid off Lucy Merrill, features writer for 14 years.

On Monday, Laura McAlister began as the new editor of Over the Mountain Journal. McAlister, shown at left, formerly served as Web editor for the Birmingham Business Alliance and Birmingham Magazine.

Clark, shown at right, said by e-mail:

“As it was explained to me, (Over the Mountain Journal) has sustained revenue losses for many months now, and the publisher could no longer afford to pay my salary.

“With the newspaper industry suffering nationwide, it has been a concern, but our editorial staff (both of us) thought we had a strong enough niche in the community to keep things going. It was quite a surprise when we were told the situation.

“For me, it came at a time when I’d just returned from nearly a month-long embed with the troops in Afghanistan. I think it was time for a change, but a bit more preparation would have been helpful. Still, I hope to return to Afghanistan this summer. Meanwhile, I’m looking for work locally, as I’d just signed an apartment lease before the layoff.

“Being with the troops and experiencing life in Afghanistan was a long-time dream and life-changing experience. It taught me much about myself, including my ability to adapt to inhospitable circumstances in a war zone. I left at the end of December and returned near the end of January.”

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Cara Clark: Facebook | LinkedIn

Laura McAlister: Facebook | LinkedIn

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