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.
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.