Tag Archives: al.com

The only site ever banned from al.com’s state blog list

al.comIn perusing the list of state blogs on al.com recently, I noticed a curious omission. This site, Media of Birmingham, was no longer on the list after having been there for years.

I asked by email for it to be reinstated, and the response from an al.com employee was that this site was “heavily anti-Advance” and that “the editors didn’t feel that it was a good fit.” (Advance Publications owns al.com.)

No such guidelines are listed on the al.com page.

I have asked for the names of said editors.

Checking through the sites (which still include my other blogs), I see these are approved for inclusion:

  • Blogs that haven’t been updated in 12 months or more (including those hosted on al.com)? OK.
  • Splogs (a k a spam blogs)? OK.
  • Broken sites? OK.

Be careful, bloggers. Any coverage of Advance or its properties could get you banned from the state’s largest website.

A copy of the email is included below.

From: —– <—–@al.com>
To: Wade Kwon <wade@wadekwon.com>
Subject: RE: Blog page addition
Date: Mon, 7 Oct 2013 4:59:34 p.m.

Hey, what’s up,

I just chased this down to see what the problem was. I assumed it had been added already.

Apparently, there was concern that the MOB blog was too heavily anti-Advance. The blog list is subject to the discretion of the editors and they didn’t feel that it was a good fit. Your other blogs, of course, were fine.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Thanks,
—–
[job title]
Alabama Media Group

Advance emailRejection email from al.com (click to enlarge)

I’ll continue to include links to the Birmingham News and al.com on the sidebar.

Update Oct. 9: It has been added back. It was also cited on JimRomenesko.com.

Update Oct. 15: The unnamed al.com staffer referred me to Julie McKinney, the statewide community engagement specialist. I asked via email about who made the decision and what the reasoning was. She replied:

I think [an al.com executive] and you exchanged messages, and any confusion is cleared up. Your blog is listed again. If you hear of anyone else removed who thinks they should be back, send them my way. It’s a constant evolution, and I try to stay on top of it.”

I invited her again to answer my questions, but have not received a response.

When I invited the al.com executive to respond in the comments, she declined because she “[didn’t] want to throw [her] staffers under the bus.”

Questions on the 1-year anniversary of the Alabama Media Group

John Archibald has now joined in sports-nerd-bingo.

A post shared by Kyle Whitmire (@warondumb) on

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.

Birmingham News

Click on image for larger view.

Additional reading:

The Birmingham News turned 125 today. So obviously we had to have a giant cake.

A post shared by This Is Alabama (@thisisalabama) on

The Birmingham News turned 125 in March.

Birmingham News building demolition

Photo: m.rags (CC)

The demolition of the previous headquarters of
the Birmingham News in 2007, constructed in 1917.

ADVANCE CRISIS: The insanely obsessive guide to the Birmingham News/al.com implosion

By Wade Kwon

Birmingham has seen one of its most tumultuous years in its media landscape. The last 365 days have brought layoffs, departures, closings and a few victories among local outlets.

It was 1 year ago today that the New York Times scooped New Orleans’ venerable Times-Picayune on its own impending upheaval: layoffs, a drop to publishing three times a week and the formation of two new companies.

Before that explosive announcement, Advance’s online portal al.com joined nola.com and mlive.com in a drastic and comprehensive site redesign. Reaction by readers nationwide — as Advance switched all its sites over to the 2012 look — was overwhelmingly negative.

The following day (May 24), owner Advance Publications announced hurriedly what Times-Picayune staffers had already learned online. In addition, the New Jersey-based chain rolled out a similar Alabama-wide strategy for the Birmingham News, the Huntsville Times and the Press-Register of Mobile.

See full coverage of Advance Publications.

Before reviewing the Advance Crisis of the last 12 months, just look at the other major events on Birmingham’s media scene during the same period …

A look at the ups and downs since Advance’s restructuring of its Birmingham operations …

May 2012

May 24: Birmingham News reporters tweet the stunning morning announcements on publishing schedule and company reorganization.

At the same time, the media release appears on al.com, similar to the one on nola.com and that would appear in coming months for other Advance properties.

Naturally, layoffs were part of the deal.

I threw in an appropriate hashtag.

Birmingham News staffers (and others) weighed in via Twitter.

While New Orleans felt the ire of a large, loyal readership, Birmingham faced a more muted response. That afternoon, New Orleans residents spring into action with a Save the Picayune campaign. No such reaction in Birmingham.

May 25, 2012 newspapers

Mobile finds layoffs ‘exciting’ for its May 25, 2012, edition.
[larger version]

May 25: Print editions across the state splash the announcement across the front page.

May 30: Our special Media of Birmingham report details worries about layoffs and the new model for the Birmingham News.

May 31: Another Media of Birmingham report shows one key company, al.com, seemingly lost in the shuffle. While the newspapers would fire hundreds, al.com would fire only one employee.

Continued on page 2 …

Where to find the story of the day on al.com

al.com front page al.com front page with boxes

The al.com front page on the morning of July 20, with the
version on the right showing the placement of the
Aurora shooting spree stories.

(Click to enlarge each version.)

The challenge of news sites is to present important and interesting headlines so readers can find them quickly. Typically, the most important stories can be found at the top.

On Friday, the day of the shooting spree at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., was one of many stories featured in the new al.com stream format. The big stories from Alabama included a bomb threat at a Cahaba Heights drugstore (including arrests) and the state board of education filing a lawsuit against the Birmingham school board.

Certainly the tragedy in Colorado that left 12 dead and more than 50 wounded grabbed media and public attention. The broadcast networks based their evening newscasts and hastily scheduled prime-time specials from Aurora.

The al.com front page has several ways to highlight stories: a banner across the top, a “Don’t Miss” flag (used for a story on an imprisoned former Jefferson County commissioner) and a top right box (used for Tuesday’s Tuscaloosa shooting spree).

The Aurora-related headlines did not have any indicators to help them stand out, as shown above, an odd choice given the clear reader interest (note the 192 comments for one version). One is near the top, just below a link to a recipe for Kalua Pork, while the other is just below an ad block.

al.com front page al.com front page

The al.com front page on the evening of July 20, with the
version on the right showing the placement of the
Aurora shooting spree stories.

(Click to enlarge each version.)

By that evening, a story on the shooting suspect can be found several screens down just below the ad block, as shown above.

If clicks to al.com pages are important in the new Alabama Media Group model (as they were in the previous template), why is the arguably most important story of the day so hard to find?

Good design gives readers a clear path to story hierarchy, through use of color, placement, size, even bold fonts. But in the river of headlines on al.com, it’s more challenging to locate the ones they want to see and click.

More stories on al.com

Birmingham News fires more than 100 employees

Advance cuts 400 jobs statewide, 200 more in New Orleans

Birmingham News staff

Birmingham News staff outside of its downtown headquarters

By Wade Kwon

The Birmingham News fired more than 100 employees today, including more than 60 in the newsroom, as part of owner Advance’s new strategy. Their last day of work will be Sept. 30.

Said one employee who will be staying, “I’d rather be waterboarded than go into that office on a daily basis.”

As previously reported, managers held one-on-one meetings all day long to notify staffers whether they would be terminated with severance packages, asked to stay on or asked to apply for new jobs at the company.

Similar meetings took place at the Huntsville Times, the (Mobile) Press-Register and the Times-Picayune in New Orleans. All four newspapers will cut back to publication on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the fall, while ramping up content on recently redesigned news sites al.com and nola.com.

Advance is cutting some 400 jobs at its Alabama operations, and another 201 in New Orleans. A report in the Times-Picayune says that is an overall staff reduction of 32 percent, with 84 of the 173 newsroom employees (49 percent) fired today.

The Gambit, a weekly alternative paper there, reported via Twitter that most of the marketing department was fired, as well as all of the special section, library and human resources departments. The new New Orleans company Nola Media Group plans on hiring for 83 positions, including 40 in news.

Neither Advance nor managers at the Alabama newspapers have released specific information about cuts by city or department.

A source at the Birmingham News who asked to remain anonymous said that about 107 would be fired today at the company, and of them about 61 were newsroom employees (55 percent of the 110 staff members listed online). (Several had already left prior to today’s layoffs.) Most of the photographers and copy editors have been let go.

List of Birmingham News editorial staff departures
(to be updated)

Notable editorial departures include business editor Jerry Underwood, photography director Walt Stricklin, 31-year veteran reporter Chuck Dean and Washington correspondent Mary Orndorff. Two newsroom staffers fired today are pregnant, and another staffer was fired a week in advance because of a scheduled cancer operation.

Times-Picayune employees have been asked to sign non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements as a condition of receiving their severance packages; it is believed Alabama Advance employees have been asked to do so as well.

Cindy Martin, president of al.com and of the newly formed Alabama Media Group, declined to comment on staffing and changes at the News, al.com or Birmingham Magazine. In the media release, she said, regarding those losing their jobs across the state today:

“Their dedication and expertise to our newspapers and the communities they served cannot be overstated. We offer our sincere gratitude to each person for their contributions and years of service to these excellent institutions.”

Birmingham News publisher Pam Siddall (now president of Advance Central Services of Alabama) has not returned a request for comment, nor has Birmingham Magazine editor Julie Keith.

Several staffers staying with the Birmingham company are taking on new titles, such as equality and human rights reporter and, for popular metro columnist John Archibald, local buzz reporter. No clear duties or beats appear to have been assigned to the new titles.

More than 100 vacant positions for the two new local companies will be filled before the fall, with some ads to appear on al.com this week. [Ads have been posted for Alabama Media Group and Advance Central Services Alabama.]

Little is known as to how many, if any, employees were dismissed at al.com, or how its organizational structure might change in the new company.

However, Media of Birmingham has learned that Advance has fired three of the eight Birmingham Magazine staff members: managing editor Carla Jean Whitley (with the publication since 2006) and two on the business side.

Advance and the Birmingham News bought the 50-year-old magazine for an undisclosed amount in October from the Birmingham Business Alliance. Since then, News staffers had taken on duties for the newly acquired publication, after the magazine moved into the newspaper’s downtown offices. Several magazine staff members were fired during the transition.

No information has been forthcoming about the magazine’s place within either of the two new companies.

The firings today had originally been scheduled for last week, but were changed to today both in Alabama and New Orleans. No date has been announced for the thrice-weekly publishing.

Regarding the News’ management to date, one outgoing newsroom employee said, “They’re such assholes.”

Additional coverage:

Also:

  • Birmingham social media expert David Griner set up a Twitter account @ALNewsJobs and Facebook page today to connect unemployed journalists with career opportunities.

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, al.com or Birmingham Magazine, please contact me.

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.

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.

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.

SPJ Alabama selects Dennis Pillion as chapter president

The Alabama Pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has selected new officers for 2010:

  • President: Dennis Pillion, sports producer, AL.com in Birmingham
  • President elect: David Joyner, executive news editor, Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. in Birmingham
  • Secretary: Meredith Cummings, director of the Alabama Scholastic Press Association, journalism instructor at the University of Alabama
  • Treasurer: Jill Nolin, city/county reporter, Montgomery Advertiser

From left, Pillion, Joyner, Cummings, Nolin

The other current board members are:

  • George Daniels, assistant professor of journalism, University of Alabama
  • Abigail Morrow, attorney, Taylor Ritter P.C. in Birmingham
  • Jenn Rowell (immediate past president), military reporter, Montgomery Advertiser
  • Matt Stanley, producer, “Today in Alabama,” WSFA-TV, Montgomery

• • •

Read more Birmingham media updates.

Have a news tip? Let us know!