Inside the soon-to-be-abandoned newsroom
of the Alabama Media Group
Birmingham once had two daily newspapers. Today, it has none.
Owner Advance Publications turned the Birmingham News and its website al.com into two new companies, Alabama Media Group and Advance Central Services Alabama. It has followed through with similar plans in many of its other markets across the country.
One year ago today, the Birmingham News ceased daily publication after 124 years and began a thrice-weekly schedule. That same day saw similar transformations in Huntsville, Mobile and New Orleans, which has since gone back to publishing 6 days a week in two separate publications.
Circulation has dropped year to year. Site traffic has risen. Both companies have changed leadership.
And this week, Alabama Media Group announced plans to move in early 2014 to a leased location downtown; a previous report had indicated the company’s move was contingent on selling the facility, asking price $21.4 million. (No word on where sister company Advance Central Services will go.)
Before looking ahead to year two, let’s examine the key questions from the last 12 months under Alabama Media Group’s digital first strategy.
• As both companies’ leaders are replaced with those with no previous ties to Alabama, how will that affect the quality of local coverage?
• Have the journalists who replaced some of those fired in 2012 improved local coverage? Digital initiatives? Community interaction?
• How many unique visitors did al.com have each month in 2012 before Oct. 1? How many unique monthly visitors does it have in 2013?
• What was the monthly advertising revenue in 2012 and 2013 for print ads, classifieds and online?
• Which coverage areas have improved in the past year? Which coverage areas have faltered?
• Will Alabama Media Group be able to sell its current building at $21.4 million?
• Will a competing daily newspaper enter the Birmingham market, as has happened in at least two other Advance cities?
• And lastly, are we, the people of Birmingham, better off today with the Alabama Media Group than we were a year ago?
Update Oct. 2: Amount of local news on page 1 for Oct. 2 edition? 0 percent.
Click on image for larger view.
- ADVANCE CRISIS: The insanely obsessive guide to the Birmingham News/al.com implosion
- The Times-Picayune One Year Later: How the Cutbacks Changed New Orleans News
- Birmingham News subscriber Don Keith on the revamped edition: part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4
The Birmingham News turned 125 in March.
Photo: m.rags (CC)
The demolition of the previous headquarters of
the Birmingham News in 2007, constructed in 1917.
One thing I don’t understand is them running off Ginny McDonald of “Driving Miss Crazy” fame and replacing her with “Traffic Mike.”
At least Miss Crazy got the traffic and road building questions of the public answered.
Perhaps to save on the salary of a veteran by replacing her with a less experienced professional? Or maybe putting someone more “digitally savvy” in place?