By Wade Kwon
Glenny Brock, editor of Weld for Birmingham, resigned Friday after 1 year on the job, Media of Birmingham has learned. She was one of the co-founders, along with publisher Mark Kelly, general manager Heather Milam and new media editor Kyle Whitmire.
A statement about the departing partner was posted on the Weld site today.
The statement includes a note from Kelly:
“Glenny is a talented editor and an excellent writer. She played an important role in the birth of Weld, and certainly in the success we have enjoyed to date in establishing ourselves in the local media market. As she makes this decision to pursue other opportunities and to devote more time to writing a book, we support her and wish her the best.”
Brock and Whitmire came from Birmingham Weekly after working for the alternative paper for 9 years each. Weld began publishing its weekly issues in September, though the website had been in place earlier in 2011.
Managing editor Jesse Chambers, another former Weekly writer, will assume Brock’s responsibilities as Weld searches for her replacement.
Updates to follow …
Added May 28 …
Glenny Brock answered questions by email about her future and her time at Weld.
Working with Kyle Whitmire: My friendship and collaborative partnership with Kyle Whitmire has been and will continue to be one of the most meaningful relationships of my life. I am very proud of all that we have accomplished together, from our early days at the Hilltop News (Birmingham-Southern’s student newspaper) to the [Birmingham] Weekly to Weld.
Kyle made me a journalist and thus changed the course of my life. However, I am also a poet, a professor of writing and aspiring memoirist. I have decided that now is the time to concentrate on that work rather than keeping myself shackled to a weekly deadline.
On her book: My mother died in 1985, when I was only 8, so I know very little about her, except what I’ve learned from the numerous diaries and extensive correspondence she left behind, a haphazardly organized paper file that covers about half of her 41-year life.
About 5 years ago, I received a tremendous gift from the artist and cartoonist Howard Cruse, a packet of more than a dozen letters that he and my mother exchanged in the early 1970s. His letters to her and hers to him yielded many revelations about her life, including the extraordinary fact that between her two marriages, she had affairs with three Catholic priests and a Benedictine monk.
The working title of the book comes from an old-fashioned catechism term for a very short prayer uttered aloud, “Pious Ejaculations.”
Weld success and failures: That we created Weld at all was a major success. The newspaper we published is one of the finest publications Birmingham has ever had. By showcasing so many excellent examples of commentary, feature writing and public affairs reporting, we managed to fill a void created by the decline and disappearance of Birmingham Weekly and the institutional torpor of the Birmingham News.
We had a terrific concept to create a “Web first, print best” publication, based on network of local blogs. That is, we wanted to create and curate content, supplementing our original proprietary reporting with blog posts-turned-stories from all over the community.
To date, we have failed to achieve this. Or rather, we have only succeeded piecemeal.
A few notable blogs are connected to Weld. However, a handful of linked blogs falls far short of our original vision and mission, to be a place of meaningful community connection and a virtual town square. Weld may yet achieve that, under the leadership of a different editor.
On internal conflict: Conflict is a part of the alchemy that makes creativity possible. Not long after we launched the print edition, musician and writer Janet Simpson-Templin urged me to think of the partnership like a band.
Kyle, Heather, Mark and I had shared and disparate ambitions; the collective power of our four skill sets allowed us to accomplish much together.
We argued plenty, but the specific fights don’t matter much to me at this point.
I’m going to have a solo career, but the rest of the band plans to stay together. I wish them well, and I’m confident they wish me well, too.
On a possible return to journalism: Absolutely. I love freelancing, and I’ve spent too much time in recent years receiving pitches and assigning stories instead of pitching stories and getting assignments. The role reversal looks incredibly appealing.
If I discover the right opportunity, I’d gladly take a full-time position at an online or print publication, but I want to make some headway on this book first.
Weld’s publisher Mark Kelly also answered questions by email.
On Brock’s resignation: I was disappointed but not surprised by Glenny’s resignation. As I indicated in the statement on our website, I was a little surprised by the timing. But that was Glenny’s decision and I support her fully. Her presence has been integral to everything we’ve done, and we’re going to miss her daily presence.
I’m a Glenny Brock fan for life. She has spent some time making a considered decision about what is best for her at this point in her life and career. I respect that and, however regretfully, support it.
On changes for Weld: Having a weekly print product is key to our business model, but the key element of our growth strategy is flexibility, starting with the print product as the primary focus and transitioning over time to making our electronic presence not only the primary focus, but also the primary means of building value in our company.
Specific changes will be announced in the near future.
On the next editor: We’re much more interested in finding the right person than in adhering to some self-imposed timetable. In fact, in view of the changes that have been planned and which we’re preparing to implement, it’s probably better that we get through that process before turning our full attention to the search for a new editor.
Obviously, we will be looking to fill this role with someone who has great editorial skills. But we’ll also be looking for a person with strong leadership capabilities and a vision for the community and the role of our company in it.
Note: Brock, Kelly, Whitmire and Milam declined to answer questions about Brock’s ownership stake in Weld or any possible buyout of her stake.
Wade Kwon is a co-founder of Media of Birmingham and a Birmingham journalist for 25 years.
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