Author Archives: Wade Kwon

News blackout at al.com? State’s biggest site at loss for words

al.com victory party

Staff members at al.com celebrate a contest victory
with a Google-sponsored party in January.

By Wade Kwon

While the Birmingham News’ reduction in print editions and jobs has received much attention, the plan to put al.com at the forefront has received relatively scant attention.

The largest website in Alabama recently changed its front page, and just today changed its dominant color from yellow to a warm gray (as did sister site nola.com). But aside from cosmetic changes, questions remain as to what’s next for the company.

Birmingham News, other Advance papers to cut jobs, print editions

Cindy Martin, president and CEO of al.com, will become president of the newly formed Alabama Media Group. Owner Advance has also created Advance Central Services Alabama, to be headed by News publisher Pam Siddall.

Martin and various al.com staff members declined requests for interview.

Martin told the Birmingham Business Journal that her new company will be based in Birmingham, with offices in Huntsville, Montgomery and Mobile. In an interview with ABC 33/40, she said, “We’ve really got to change our business to keep and stay ahead of the consumer media habits.”

And in the announcement, Martin said:

“We’re excited to bring together the quality journalism of The Birmingham News, the Press-Register of Mobile and The Huntsville Times and the up-to-the minute immediacy of al.com. This is obviously a dramatic change, but we believe our award-winning journalism, top-notch advertising services and the largest website in Alabama position us to be a healthy, growing company.

“There are always painful choices when you begin a process that will lead to people losing their jobs. But at the same time, we must position ourselves to be sustainable businesses going forward. The new companies we launch in the fall, we believe, not only achieve that, but will serve our growing audiences and advertisers better than ever before.”

How many staff members al.com will gain or lose, if any, remains to be seen, as well as how Martin and Siddall will work together in daily operations and hierarchy.

The Alabama Media Group management:

  • Vicki Applewhite, vice president of advertising at the (Mobile) Press-Register, will be vice president of marketing and strategy;
  • Mike Marshall, editor of the Press-Register, will be Statewide Commentary Director;
  • Dee Dee Mathis, director of sales at al.com, will be vice president of digital solutions;
  • Natalie Pruitt, vice president of advertising at the Huntsville Times, will bevice president of sales;
  • Kevin Wendt, editor of the Huntsville Times, will be vice president of content.

To mark the Times’ 100th anniversary in 2010, Wendt wrote:

“There remains no better avenue for disseminating information – both news and advertising – than the printed newspaper. … The printed paper, The Times included, will continue to adapt in times of change.”

The Advance Central Services Alabama management group:

  • Vicki Catlett, controller/treasurer at the Press-Register, will be executive director of finance and accounting;
  • Troy Niday, vice president of operations at the News, will be executive director of operations;
  • Diane Romine, regional vice president of technology at the News, will be executive director of technology;
  • Ellen Williams, human resources director at the News, will be executive director of human resources.

More stories on al.com

More stories on Advance Publications

Wade Kwon is a co-founder of Media of Birmingham and a Birmingham journalist for 25 years.

If you have more info on changes at the Birmingham News and al.com, please contact me.

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Insiders detail Birmingham News’ lurch toward digital future

Birmingham News - perception problem

Slide from Birmingham News/Big Communications
branding strategy presentation

By Wade Kwon

The mass firings start next week.

That’s the word at the Birmingham News and other Advance newspapers pushing forward the digital agenda. The master plan was to have been announced June 5, but the New York Times’ scoop forced Advance’s hand in New Orleans and across Alabama.

Sources within the Birmingham News who wish to remain anonymous confirmed details of the transition for staff and operations. Much still remains up in the air, as the newspaper scrambles to prepare for the historic changes afoot, dropping to three print editions a week.

“This is a disaster,” a veteran reporter said. “It makes me physically ill.”

It appears that employees will find out early next week if they will have a job at either of the newly formed companies, Advance Central Services Alabama or Alabama Media Group. If not, their employment will be terminated with a possible severance package.

Three major departures are already confirmed:

Those remaining with the company could see cuts in salary and benefits. (Gambit reports that New Orleans Times-Picayune staffers who receive offers may still have to reapply for those jobs.)

Staff members have seen several rounds of buyouts and layoffs in the last few years. The News could see an influx of younger, cheaper journalism school graduates — a sea change in the paper’s past hiring practices — to help create more posts in the new digital model.

Perhaps the most drastic change will be the moving of the newsroom from the News’ downtown headquarters. In its place will be support services for the News, the Huntsville Times and the Press-Register. The new newsroom location has not been determined, though the News owns two other commercial properties.

Birmingham News, other Advance papers to cut jobs, print editions

All reporters and photographers will have company-issued laptops and cell phones, filing content to al.com rather than for the next day’s print edition. Plus, they’re expected to shoot photos and videos and participate in social media. One staffer said the editors will “dip” into the “rivers” of posts for the Sunday, Wednesday and Friday newspapers.

“(Publisher) Pam (Siddall) keeps saying the journalism is still important, but I don’t believe that. How do we do in-depth, investigative pieces in short posts?”

Birmingham News - brand revitalization

Slide from Birmingham News/Big Communications
branding strategy presentation

Siddall, publisher of the News for the last 28 months, will head up Advance Central Services Alabama, while Cindy Martin, president/CEO of al.com since 1997, will be in charge of Alabama Media Group.

For the past few months, early shift reporters have been instructed to post just about anything every 15 minutes from 7 to 9 a.m. to al.com to drive traffic. Often, the posts would be based primarily on media releases.

Journalists are also now being instructed to participate in the often unruly comment sections following most stories, a directive that is already meeting resistance.

Because Huntsville’s paper will be printed at the News’ press starting in the fall, some Times production employees could shift to Birmingham. But it remains uncertain how many News production staffers will keep their jobs, though at least one department has been told it will remain intact with no planned layoffs.

A longtime production employee said, “There was a complete lack of respect and consideration for the employees in this.

“There is obviously a certain amount of discomfort in everyone’s stomach about all this. We all feel betrayed to an extent and see Newhouse/Advance as just trying to improve their bottom line by shaving even more off their expense reports.

“It is theirs to do with as they wish, although it would have been more considerate of them to have done this in a much more above-board manner.”

A reporter added, “I suspect that most of us will be gone, even those of us who have worked to develop the skills necessary in this brave new world.”

The biggest change of all may simply be stature. With Birmingham, Huntsville and Mobile dropping daily print coverage, the state’s largest newspaper will be the Montgomery Advertiser.

Birmingham News - Twitter billboard

Mockup of Birmingham News billboard with
Twitter updates using the #this_is_our_story hashtag

Additional coverage:

More stories on the Birmingham News

More stories on Advance Publications

Wade Kwon is a co-founder of Media of Birmingham and a Birmingham journalist for 25 years.

If you have more info on changes at the Birmingham News and al.com, please contact me.

Birmingham News, other Advance papers to cut jobs, print editions

Birmingham News

By Wade Kwon

The newspaper world was hit with some bombshells this morning, all lobbed by Advance Publications.

Wednesday night, unconfirmed reports popped up suggesting its New Orleans’ paper, the Times-Picayune, would undergo severe cuts and reduce to three times a week publication. This morning, it became a reality, as staffers found out — not from their own supervisors — but from Web and TV reports.

The New Orleans operation will reform under two companies, one handling digital operations and one handling print operations. The paper will run Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays starting in the fall, instead of seven days a week.

Pam SiddallThis morning, staff members at the Birmingham News found out from publisher Pam Siddall in a hastily called staff meeting that they too would roll out the same plan for all Alabama Advance papers, including the Huntsville Times and (Mobile) Press-Register.

Wednesday marked the rollout of a new front page design for al.com, which had previously been debuted at Advance sites mlive.com and nola.com. The new look was met with much criticism from the readers.

See Twitter reaction from Birmingham News staffers

Siddall will head up one new company, Advance Central Services Alabama, handling production, distribution, technology, finance and human resources for all three papers in Birmingham. That means the Times will be printed in Birmingham starting at a date to be determined in the fall and the Press-Register will continue to be printed in Mobile.

All three papers will run on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, with special editions (such as Thanksgiving) as needed. Sunday papers will remain $2, and Wednesday and Friday papers will remain $1. Subscribers will also be given access to the e-edition.

News operations will be handled in “hubs” across the state.

Cindy MartinCindy Martin, president of al.com, will be the head of Alabama Media Group, over all three newspapers and al.com. It is to be a “digitally focused media company.”

Martin said in the press report that the change in organizational structures across all departments will lead to a reduction in the overall size of the workforce, with details still to be worked out.

Advance owns the Birmingham News and Birmingham-based al.com, as well as the weekly Birmingham Business Journal. Its Ann Arbor (Mich.) News ended its print run in 2009 after 174 years, switching to an all-online model at annarbor.com with reduced staffing and a twice-weekly print edition.

Forbes blogger Micheline Maynard predicted that New Orleans would see similar results as Ann Arbor did:

“No offense to its staff, but AnnArbor.com, online at least, is a constantly updated blog, which gives equal play to impaled cyclists and rabid skunks as it does to politics and crime. The printed edition is newspaper-like, but with a different style and less gravitas than its predecessor.”

News industry analyst Ken Doctor is calling the transformation a “forced march to digital.”

Also, it was announced that the News’ 37-year veteran Tom Scarritt, editor since 1997, would retire in the fall. He became the newspaper’s vice president in 2001.

Andrew Beaujon at journalism institute Poynter reports that the News’ Sunday circulation jumped significantly between March 2011 and March 2012, while the rest of the week fell:

“The Birmingham News’ average Sunday circulation increased from 153,023 to 173,187, a 13 percent increase mostly attributable to the inclusion of ‘YES! Your Essential Shopper,’ a home-delivered collection of flyers. Its average daily circulation declined 7.5 percent, from 112,209 to 103,729.

“The Press-Register’s Sunday circulation was basically flat, going from 103,300 to 103,373 and its daily circ dropped from 87,518 to 82,088; both figures rolled in distribution of The (Pascagoula) Mississippi Press.

“Average Sunday circulation rose 1 percent at The Huntsville Times, to 68,092 from 67,286, and daily fell 5.5 percent, from 47,366 to 44,725.”

The Birmingham News, the state’s largest newspaper, won a Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for reporter Brett J. Blackledge’s investigation into corruption in the state’s 2-year college system. Wednesday, it was a finalist for several Green Eyeshade Awards, including its extensive coverage of the April 27, 2011, tornadoes and its 2011 series on “Reinventing Our Community.”

Some Birmingham News staff members are still in shock over the surprise morning bombshell announcement. Siddall said to them at the meeting, “At the end of the day, each employee has to decide if they believe in the new direction.”

See how the Birmingham News is implementing the new plan.

Additional coverage:

More stories on the Birmingham News

More stories on Advance Publications

Wade Kwon is a co-founder of Media of Birmingham and a Birmingham journalist for 25 years.

EXCLUSIVE: Weld co-founder/editor Glenny Brock quits

By Wade Kwon

Glenny BrockGlenny 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.

Weld for BirminghamA 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.

Is the Birmingham Business Alliance requiring “pay for play” for media access?

By Wade Kwon

The Birmingham Business Alliance has had much news to share of late, from recent hires to position statements on the ongoing Jefferson County financial crisis.

Birmingham Business AllianceBut its preferred method of sharing has raised my hackles as a journalist: members first, media second.

(Note: I co-own Birmingham media outlet Magic City Post, which is a member of the Birmingham Business Alliance.)

I discovered that the Birmingham Business Alliance routinely, and as a matter of policy, sends news releases to its members before media outlets. But not all media outlets, as it turns out.

It gives news outlets that are members the advantage in publishing breaking news online, as the lag time can range from minutes to hours.

I pointed this out to David Rickey, senior vice president of communications, in an email:

“I don’t think media should be pay-for-play to receive newsletters from the Business Alliance. If media outlets get information faster simply because they are members, that is ethically untenable.”

The practice of paying for news coverage, pay for play, is usually frowned upon for news outlets. It does happen, especially in the highly competitive market for TV news magazines and morning shows.

Rickey’s response:

“Your remark about media pay for play is out of bounds. Our philosophy is to notify our investors — whether corporate CEO, small business person, social media guru or television GM — as a courtesy about announcements from BBA.”

I had suggested two possible solutions:

  1. That media outlets receive notices at the same time.
  2. Or that media outlets be included as investors without cost.

I received no further comment on those suggestions.

I wrote a letter to Brian Hilson, who became Birmingham Business Alliance president and chief executive officer in March. I raised the issue of pay for play, even though as an alliance member, we would benefit unfairly from this policy.

Hilson’s response:

“The BBA’s process of providing news and information to BBA investors first and other media later is a logical method that we will continue to follow. It is not, as you termed it, ‘unethical.’ ”

In checking with other chambers of commerce, all sent news releases to media outlets first or while simultaneously notifying members.

I asked Kelly McBride, senior faculty member in ethics at journalism training center the Poynter Institute, what she thought.

McBride’s response:

“It’s hardly fair to charge for access to news. If they were a government organization, they couldn’t do that. But as a private group, they can do whatever they want.

“But it’s really up to the news organizations to stand up to it, because it’s their principles that are being violated.

“There would be a way that all the news orgs could get together and agree to receive the press releases at the same time, regardless of their membership. Or all the news orgs could simply resign in protest.

“But it’s not really the Business Alliance’s responsibility to stand up for journalism values. It’s the responsibility of the journalism organizations.”

The media outlets that are Birmingham Business Alliance members:

  • Magazines: Birmingham Magazine, B-Metro Magazine, Lindy’s Sports Annuals;
  • Newspapers: The Alabama Baptist, Birmingham Business Journal, the Birmingham News, Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., Latino News;
  • Radio stations: Citadel, Cox;
  • Television stations: ABC 33/40, Alabama Public Television, Alabama’s 13, CBS 42, Fox 6, WPXH.

Though my own outlet shares in the benefit of getting Birmingham Business Alliance news ahead of non-member outlets, it rubs me the wrong way. The chamber may not want to call it pay for play, but any media outlet not paying at least $350 a year for membership is at a disadvantage.

Also:

Wade Kwon is a co-founder of Media of Birmingham and a Birmingham journalist for 24 years.

What do you think? Should the Birmingham Business Alliance change its news release policy? Is it pay for play? Should media outlets speak up, even if it means losing a competitive advantage?

EXCLUSIVE: Birmingham Weekly, the untold stories

By Wade Kwon

Stephen Humphreys, Chuck Leishman

Stephen Humphreys, left, and Chuck Leishman

Birmingham Weekly made its reputation on untangling the lies and the financial misdeeds of former mayor Larry Langford. Just 2 years later, the alternative paper now finds itself enmeshed in its own set of accusations and denials, questionable figures and sobering facts.

Birmingham Weekly 09-01-11 coverIn June, the weekly publication quietly changed hands from publisher Chuck Leishman to Stephen Humphreys. In doing so, it began to dig itself out of a financial hole that continues to limit its operations.

Friday, editor Sam George tweeted his resignation over a pay dispute. In his statement published on his personal website, he wrote, “I can no longer ask myself, my employees or my writers to continue to work with out the compensation and com fort they are due.”

In this exclusive investigative report for Media of Birmingham, we talk to staff members who shaped the paper over the past decade and uncover the internal troubles that have placed it in its current situation.

(Note: The author co-owns Birmingham media outlet Magic City Post.)

Continue reading

Just another one-newspaper town

On the passing of the Post-Herald 5 years ago

History buffs know today marks the fifth anniversary of the last edition of the Birmingham Post-Herald.

Birmingham Post-HeraldUp until that day, Birmingham had been a two-newspaper town for much of its existence. Well, more like one-and-a-half newspapers, as both were operating under a joint-operating agreement. The Birmingham News was the senior partner, handling the advertising, marketing and circulation for itself and the Post-Herald.

In essence, competitive entities in name only.

Has the News thrived or become complacent since becoming a solo act in 2005?

The News has operated for 5 years without another daily paper competing for scoops, but finding itself competing on a new playing field. It had its traditional competitors: radio, television, even the Internet vying for readers for both news and attention.

But who knew back then that the state’s flagship newspaper would also be fighting Facebook, and blogs, and YouTube, and Twitter, and a publishing industry implosion?

Walk through the News’ building — insiders jokingly refer to the layout as a prison — and you’ll see disturbing signs of a newspaper in decline. Empty desks marking the dozens of jobs cut. The third floor, once home to circulation, now a ghost town; owner Advance Publications consolidated that function for all state newspapers in its Mobile office.

In some ways, the 2006 structure remains a time capsule impervious to a changing world. No wi-fi. Even odder, no AL.com. Though the News and AL.com are separate companies, both are part of the Advance family with the same mission: Turn a profit while informing readers.

And yet, the staff of the state’s largest website sits in its own offices a mile away at Pepper Place, which might as well be a thousand miles away.

The News, rather than embracing its digital destiny, has found it rather loathsome. The columnists decry the online commenters while doing little to fix the system. The editors hold back more and more content for print only. And while other publications have moved toward more interactive features and storytelling, the News largely sticks to its comfort zone of text, photos and graphics.

The print product grows ever thinner, more expensive and less read, a strategy copied straight from the Post-Herald. You may be surprised to learn that at one time, the Post-Herald also had the state’s largest, if only, website, back in the mid-1990s. But by failing to adapt to the audience’s changing news-consumption habits, that advantage was lost over time.

It may seem unthinkable that Birmingham could go from a one-newspaper to a zero-newspaper town. This quiet anniversary should serve as a reminder that no publication is safe, no institution sacred. Hopefully, it is not too late for the Birmingham News to learn from the Post-Herald’s demise, before it also becomes a footnote in history.

EXCLUSIVE: Coastal Living editor departs after less than 6 months

Also, Southern Living offers new round of buyouts

Sara PetersonSara Peterson, the third editor at Coastal Living magazine in the last 2 years, is calling it quits. Media of Birmingham has learned that she plans to work in New York on the long-rumored HGTV Magazine published Hearst Corporation, according to insiders at the Birmingham office. Hearst is a direct competitor to Time Inc., which owns Coastal Living and other Birmingham-based titles.

Time Inc. spokesperson Jennifer Zawadzinski said via e-mail that the company is interviewing candidates for editor, but no announcement is ready at this time.

(Also, Peterson’s interview with 365Beach.com in April.)

This latest departure is one in a series of ongoing editor changes at the former Southern Progress division:

Lindsay Bierman, the new editor at Southern Living, has started a new round of buyouts among the editorial group, reportedly to give the option to staff members no longer passionate about the magazine a way out. An exact number is not known, but the final accepted buyout list is expected to be announced after Labor Day.

• • •

More coverage of Time Inc.’s Birmingham division.

• • •

Read more Birmingham media updates.

Have a news tip? Let us know!

EXCLUSIVE: Southern Living has third editor in 2 years

The tenures are growing ever shorter.

Eleanor GriffinLindsay BiermanJohn Floyd was editor of Southern Living for 18 years, until his retirement in 2008. Eleanor Griffin has been in the position less than 2 years.

With her promotion to vice president of Southern Living brand development, deputy editor Lindsay Bierman will succeed her as editor on Aug. 9, Media of Birmingham has learned.

Bierman has been through this before. He became editor of Cottage Living a month before it closed in 2008; he succeeded Griffin, who had just taken the role at Southern Living. He then became editor of Coastal Living, until moving to Southern Living in March. All Time Inc. three titles are based in Birmingham, part of the magazine group formerly known as Southern Progress.

• • •

The e-mail announcement from Time Inc. Executive Vice President Sylvia Auton …

Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2010 12:31:00 -0400

To: Lifestyle Group

From: Sylvia Auton

Re: Staff Announcement

After 33 years with Southern Progress, Southern Living Editor in Chief Eleanor Griffin, has decided to move her career in a different direction.  Eleanor is a consummate publishing professional whose insights, expertise and passion would have been sorely missed had she not agreed to stay on in the newly created role of VP, Brand Development for Southern Living. In this position, she will work closely with the advertising and marketing group to break and grow business on key accounts. She will also work in an advisory capacity with our book division, Oxmoor House, on the creative development of Southern Living branded book concepts, as well as be responsible for identifying relevant partnerships with appropriate organizations and events.

As editor of the country’s 5th largest monthly consumer magazine, Eleanor had her pulse on modern Southern style, ensuring that Southern Living covered every aspect of Southern life with a unique and powerful voice.  From secret sources for beautiful home décor to delicious Southern recipes and charming, must-visit Southern towns, Eleanor reminded her readers every month why the South is such a special place to live.

Prior to Southern Living, Eleanor had an impressive career as the launch editor of Time Inc.’s Cottage Living. Not only was the brand beloved by readers, but under Eleanor’s direction, it received many industry accolades, including “Startup of the Year” by Adweek and “Launch Worth Watching” by Ad Age, and made two appearances on the Adweek Hotlist.

Eleanor joined the company in 1977 as merchandising manager at Southern Living. During her tenure, she has held various roles at the company including editorial director of the custom publishing division where she launched four new consumer publications and was director of corporate magazine development.

I’m pleased to announce that succeeding Eleanor will be Southern Living’s Deputy Editor Lindsay Bierman. With more than 14 years of lifestyle editing experience, Lindsay’s varied expertise, keen design sense and creative vision dovetails perfectly with the brand. I am confident that Lindsay will build on the momentum of last year’s successful redesign. Lindsay assumes his new role on August 9th.

Before joining Southern Living in early 2010, Lindsay led the repositioning and redesign of Coastal Living as Editor in Chief for two years. Under his leadership, the audience grew nearly 10% to more than 3.6 million, and the brand launched four major home furnishings collections. Lindsay joined the company in 1997 as the first Homes Editor at Coastal Living and served as Executive Editor at Southern Accents before moving to Cottage Living as founding Executive Editor. Earlier in his career, Lindsay worked at Robert A.M. Stern Architects in New York and wrote for titles such as Elle Décor and Interior Design. It was during his school years that Lindsay developed such a strong affinity for the South. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and a Master of Architecture from the University of Virginia.

I am proud that since 1966 Southern Living has been the South’s favorite magazine and that more than 16 million people read it each month.

Please join me in thanking Eleanor for her many contributions to Southern Progress and wishing her well in her new role and congratulating Lindsay on earning the honor of succeeding her.

Sylvia

• • •

• • •

More coverage of Time Inc.’s Birmingham division.

• • •

Read more Birmingham media updates.

Have a news tip? Let us know!

The path forward

Change can be terrifying. It can be unsettling. Or it can shake things up, shove things forward.

MOB nametagsChange has come to Media of Birmingham.

Our humble organization begins an exciting new phase this month, one that will help us grow and make the group more useful to members and community alike.

While big changes have rocked the industries we inhabit, we at the MOB have not done enough to prepare you for those changes that affect our companies, our careers and our lives. So let us take a peek at what’s coming next for the MOB.

In March, we started by asking for volunteers to serve on a board of directors. After we received applications, we sat down with each applicant for a short interview.

The board members have been selected and notified; you’ll meet them shortly.

This board will guide the MOB from this point forward. We couldn’t have asked for a more talented, more diverse group of passionate, innovative and experienced people to lead us.

They will canvass the membership for ideas, suggestions and help. You are the MOB; you have a say in what this group stands for and how it can best serve you.

They will formalize their own structure, so that the volunteer leadership can be sustainable. This will allow them to renew the board over time to avoid burnout or staleness.

They will plan for next month, next year and the coming years. But they will not be burdened by history. What the MOB was in 2003 in the beginning, or in 2009, will not necessarily be the MOB of 2010 and beyond. What you and they dream up can be done.

I do not have a vision for the MOB. I have been fortunate in having a hand in guiding this group for the last few years, and blessed to have Andrea Walker as a partner in coordinating events this past year.

But it is time for a new group to take the reins. My vision ended with assembling this board. After I hand over the virtual keys to them, my role will be that of member and volunteer, and if needed, advisor.

I am extremely grateful to the new board for stepping forward to take on this assignment. I’m thankful for our many volunteers over the years who have helped this group grow and pull off great events. I tip my hat to founder Christina Tutor for getting us started on the right foot.

And I step aside with only one regret: that we didn’t do more as a group in these last few years.

I look forward to many more years of MOB membership, to attending panels and mixers not as a harried greeter but as a regular attendee, and to posting more exclusive updates about Birmingham’s media scene to our website.

Change has come to Media of Birmingham, and with it, new possibilities.

Wade Kwon

Photo by J&M Photography and Design.