Tag Archives: newspaper

Sneak peek: Birmingham Weekly changes website look

Birmingham Weekly 2010

Birmingham Weekly’s new site design for 2010.
(Click image for larger version.)

Less than a year after completely revamping the website, Birmingham Weekly is set to roll out a new online design Thursday.

Incoming editor Sam George mentioned the redesign in an earlier interview. He added by e-mail that the new site will be done in collaboration with Wisconsin-based Wehaa, a Web company specializing in content management systems for print publications.

The previous design had debuted in April 2009.

Birmingham Weekly 2009

Birmingham Weekly’s website front page from 2009 to 2010.
(Click image for larger version.)

George described the upcoming changes:

“Readers should expect a site that is much easier to navigate, a slick interface with bells and whistles that actually enhance the browsing experience, rather than distract from it, and a comprehensive city directory and event calendar. For the first time ever, many sections of the paper that were overlooked on the website will be available online as well.”

“On our end, the process of getting our content online has been streamlined, largely thanks to the new digital edition of the paper which will be available every Thursday along with the print edition. The digital edition is processed from the same PDFs we send to our printer, and getting the individual articles plugged in is a snap.

“Also, the online events calendar allows us to reverse publish everything, including user-submitted events, making it easier for us to provide a calendar in the print paper that is concise, comprehensive and easy to use.

“These are just a few of the many new features I am excited about. You’ll just have to browse on over to the site on Thursday to check out the rest.”

The Terminal has another screenshot of the new design.

• • •

More coverage of Birmingham Weekly.

• • •

Read more Birmingham media updates.

Have a news tip? Let us know!

Advertisements

EXCLUSIVE: Sam George named new Birmingham Weekly editor

Media of Birmingham has learned that Birmingham Weekly staff writer Sam George will become the alternative newspaper’s editor, starting with the July 8 issue. He succeeds interim editor Jesse Chambers, who served since Glenny Brock’s departure in March.

Sam GeorgeGeorge, left, has been a staff writer since May. He also works as a freelance graphic designer and lead singer for Birmingham-based rock band Bright Henry. Previously, George was editor and lead designer of local music site, Bham.fm.

jesse chambersChambers, right, said via e-mail that George is a “smart, talented, passionate, hard-working guy with enormous enthusiasm for making a great paper and website. He has my complete confidence and support.” Chambers said he had wanted to fill in until a permanent replacement was hired. He will continue as staff writer, including editing the Green Space section.

• • •

Update June 26: Sam George shared more answers to our questions via e-mail …

Will you still continue to write and edit for Bham.fm?

Unfortunately, I will no longer have time to continue Bham.fm. I spoke with Whitney Sides (Mitchell), my co-editor there, and we both agree that the site has been suffering from lack of attention lately and that the best thing to do would be to shut it down. I plan to post an announcement saying as much there this weekend. (Note: Bham.fm started publishing in November 2008.)

It’s been a great pleasure covering the local music scene, and I hope to continue doing so with equal passion at the Weekly, including continuing my regular post “The Daily Dose,” though I plan to expand its scope beyond music. We will also have plenty of support for local bands on the new website we are launching.

Why did you decide to become editor?

I had approached (publisher) Chuck Leishman about writing a regular music column, and he offered me the managing editor gig instead. I decided to take the job because it combines a number of interests I have in one spot. It allows me to continue to cover local music and appeals to my design and photography side while expanding the scope of what I am able to accomplish for the city as a whole.

Also, it’s much better than slinging coffee, which is what I had been doing in the daylight hours.

What are your plans for the Weekly?

The first order of business is to launch our new website. I’ve been spending most of my energy here designing and implementing a brand new site for the Weekly that is really in a different stratum of excellence than the one we have now. It looks great, is easy to navigate, increases the functionality and scope of our site and integrates it further with social media. It also has a really cool digital interactive version of the paper.

I’ve put a lot of love and elbow grease into this thing, and I’m pretty excited to hear what Birmingham thinks about it when we launch, which should be Thursday, provided we can iron out the last wrinkles.

As for the paper itself, I’m still learning what it takes run the thing. I believe that Birmingham has the wealth of culture necessary to become a vibrant and modern metropolis with a strong urban center, and I would like to focus the Weekly on celebrating the things that can lead us towards that goal.

• • •

Update June 27: Whitney Mitchell clarified Bham.fm’s future via e-mail …

“The band is staying together (somewhat). It’s been hard for much of anyone to concentrate on writing with losing jobs (two-thirds of our writers), being full-time students and having “real” jobs. When I started it back in ’08, I had much more time to dedicate to organizing show schedules and attending three to four  concerts a week.

“While the site won’t be the detailed info mecca it was, it is definitely staying alive and restarting as Birmingham’s only kickass music site. (We mean that … it would suck to see it die, y’know?)

“Chris (Mitchell, photo editor) is pretty psyched about revamping the site, so stay tuned for a new layout and daily (still music and regional-focused) postings.”

• • •

More coverage of Birmingham Weekly.

• • •

Read more Birmingham media updates.

Have a news tip? Let us know!

Community Newspaper Holdings moving headquarters to Montgomery

Birmingham-based Community Newspaper Holdings is heading south. The newspaper publisher plans to relocate its headquarters from the Colonnade area to Montgomery’s new Retirement Systems of Alabama building in late 2011 or early 2012.

Community Newspaper HoldingsThe company, founded in 1997, owns 86 daily newspapers, 46 nondaily papers and four TV stations. In Alabama, it owns the News Courier in Athens and the Cullman Times.

RSA helps fund CNHI. According to the story, “The company will bring 70 high-paying jobs with salaries averaging $75,000 to the area.” Another report says that current employees will be offered the chance to move from Birmingham to Montgomery, and that replacements will be found for those not making the move.

Alabama Press Association names winners of 2010 Better Newspaper Contest

Birmingham Business Journal, Birmingham News, Shelby County Reporter win multiple awards

Alabama Press AssociationThe Alabama Press Association named its winners in the 2010 Better Newspaper Contest. The South Carolina Press Association judged 2,525 entries from 64 newspapers.

The Birmingham News and the Shelby County Reporter won for overall General Excellence in their respective divisions.

The awards ceremony takes place June 5 in Orange Beach.

Listed below are winners from the Birmingham area. The complete list is available online.

Update May 5: The Birmingham News has links to several winning entries.

2010 General Excellence Winners
Division A

  • 1st place: The Birmingham News

Division C

  • 1st place: Shelby County Reporter (Columbiana)

FOI – First Amendment Award
Division C

  • 1st place: Birmingham Business Journal for “On the road” by Jimmy DeButts
  • 3rd place: Shelby County Reporter (Columbiana) for “In your neighborhood” by staff

Most Improved
Division A

  • The Birmingham News

Division C

  • Shelby County Reporter (Columbiana)


Best Presswork
Division A

  • 2nd place: The Birmingham News

Division C

  • 3rd place: Shelby County Reporter (Columbiana)

Category 1 — Best Editorial Page or Section
Division A

  • 2nd place: The Birmingham News

Division C

  • 1st place: Shelby County Reporter (Columbiana)
  • 2nd place: Birmingham Business Journal

Category 2 — Best Lifestyle/Family Pages
Division A

  • 2nd place: The Birmingham News

Division C

  • 1st place: Shelby County Reporter (Columbiana)

Category 4 — Best Layout and Design
Division A

  • 1st place: The Birmingham News

Division C

  • 3rd place: Shelby County Reporter (Columbiana)

Category 5 — Best Local Economic Coverage

Division A

  • 2nd place: The Birmingham News

Division C

  • 1st place: Birmingham Business Journal

Category 6 — Best Local Education Coverage
Division A

  • 2nd place: The Birmingham News

Division C

  • 2nd place: Shelby County Reporter (Columbiana)

Category 7 — Best Local News Coverage
Division A

  • 1st place: The Birmingham News

Division C

  • 1st place: Shelby County Reporter (Columbiana)

Category 8 — Best Use of Photographs/Editorial Content
Division A

  • 1st place: The Birmingham News

Category 9 — Best Spot News Story

Division A

  • 3rd place: The Birmingham News for “Langford Guilty” by staff

Division C

  • 2nd place: The Shelby County Reporter for “Fire destroys apartment building” by Samantha Hurst

Category 10 — Best In-Depth News Coverage
Division C

  • 2nd place: Birmingham Business Journal for “The Dome” by Lauren B. Cooper
  • 3rd place: Shelby County Reporter for “Limestone quarry project” by staff

Category 11 — Best Business Story or Column
Division A

  • 3rd place: The Birmingham News for “Behind the music at HealthSouth” by Michael Tomberlin

Division C

  • 1st place: Birmingham Business Journal for “Economy’s heat drying up community banks profits” by Crystal Jarvis
  • 3rd place: Shelby County Reporter for “Shopping centsibly” by Samantha Hurst

Category 12 — Best Feature Story
Division C

  • 3rd place: Shelby County Reporter (Columbiana) for “Haven for hats” by Samantha Hurst

Category 13 — Best News Feature Story
Division A

  • 1st place: The Birmingham News for “Behind the Painted Wall” by Greg Garrison

Category 14 — Best Editorial
Division A

  • 1st place: The Birmingham News for “Operation chaos” by Bob Blalock

Division C

  • 2nd place: Shelby County Reporter (Columbiana) for “Hoover Hospital needed” by staff

Category 15 — Best Humorous Column
Division A

  • 1st place: The Birmingham News for “The naked truth: Blame it on a full moon” by John Archibald

Category 16 — Best Human Interest Column
Division A

  • 1st place: The Birmingham News for “As easy as brain surgery” by Kathy Kemp

Division C

  • 2nd place: Birmingham Business Journal for “The health care debate comes home” by Cindy Crawford
  • 3rd place: Shelby County Reporter (Columbiana) for “America as I knew it” by Cassandra Mickens

Category 17 — Best Editorial Column or Commentary
Division A

  • 3rd place: The Birmingham News for “Pro-life meets health care reform” by Robin DeMonia

Category 18 — Best Sports News In-Depth Coverage
Division C

  • 3rd place: Shelby County Reporter (Columbiana) for “No longer at home” by Chris Megginson

Category 19 — Best Sports Single Event Story
Division A

  • 2nd place: The Birmingham News for “Tide blocks Vols’ upset bid” by Don Kausler Jr. and Doug Segrest

Category 20 — Best Sports Feature Story
Division A

  • 2nd place: The Birmingham News for “20 years after the move” by Kevin Scarbinsky

Division C

  • 1st place: Shelby County Reporter (Columbiana) for “Relaxing on Lay Lake” by Wesley Hallman

Category 26 — Best Photo Essay
Division C

  • 3rd place: Shelby County Reporter (Columbiana) for “Family Fest” by staff

Category 27 — Best Use of Graphics or Illustrations
Division C

  • 2nd place: Birmingham Business Journal for “Birmingham’s wealthiest zip codes” by Ty West
  • 3rd place: Shelby County Reporter (Columbiana) for “In your neighborhood” by Cassandra Mickens

Category 28 — Best Headline
Division A

  • 2nd place: The Birmingham News for “Flush with pride, Birmingham-Southern wins lavatory laurel” by Nichele Hoskins
  • 3rd place: The Birmingham News for “Jesus Christ makes jury pool, but judges not” by Greg Richter

Division C

  • 2nd place: Birmingham Business Journal for “Irondale hoping it’s in good hands with Allstate bonds” by Craig Ey

Category 29 — Best Special Section
Division A

  • 3rd place: The Birmingham News for “Football U 2009 Preview” by staff

Division C

  • 1st place: Shelby County Reporter (Columbiana) for “24 Hours in Shelby County” by staff
  • 3rd place: Birmingham Business Journal for “Top 40 under 40” by Ty West

Category 30 — Best Niche Publication

Division C

  • 2nd place: Birmingham Business Journal for “Book of Lists 2010” by staff

Best Newspaper Web Site and Story of the Year
To be announced June 5.

• • •

Read more Birmingham media updates.

Have a news tip? Let us know!

The Archibald column the Birmingham News doesn’t want you to see

Newspaper continues its streak of burying critical stories, columns

John Archibald, the Birmingham News’ metro columnist, has disappeared.

Sort of.

His most recent column appeared Wednesday, but his Friday and Sunday columns didn’t run in their scheduled slots.

Is he on vacation? Did he take a buyout?

We asked Archibald and editor Tom Scarritt for comment; we received no reply.

Instead, MOBster Kyle Whitmire was kind enough to share a copy of Archibald’s most recent column, one that apparently will never run in the News. The column focuses on newsroom staffers who took buyouts and the recent economic troubles that plague most daily newspapers. Archibald notes that more than 500 years of reporting experience have walked out the door in just 2 years.

Whitmire tweeted this pithy observation

If the Bham News didn’t want anyone to read @JohnArchibald ‘s column, they should have just printed it in their paper. #FreeJohnArchibald

We have reprinted it below.

The News has been wildly inconsistent in reporting on its own business. While Scarritt had no problem writing about the the publication’s recent promotions or cuts to specific sections earlier this month, the paper has been mostly silent on its circulation problems, its rounds of buyouts and even the closing of its Lipstick magazine venture.

And the last time anyone saw Archibald in public? He was on a panel last Tuesday night at the Birmingham News for a Society of Professional Journalists event. The topic of discussion?

Journalism and ethics.

• • •

John Archibald: You have a right to know about News buyouts

It’s hard to look at Ginny MacDonald today and not hear the Neville Brothers in my head, singing their version of that old hymn, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”

Undertaker, undertaker,
Won’t you please drive real slow?
That Miss Crazy, that you carry,
I sure hate to see her go.
I hate to see her go.

Plus, I want to see the bumper snicker on her hearse. What does it say?

Reports of her death have been greatly exacerbated.

No. Ginny Mac — Birmingham News transportation diva and Driver’s Side columnist — is not exactly dead. Not to you, anyway.

But today is her last day as a full-timer in the newsroom. She’ll keep writing a weekly column on Mondays, but no more front page stories from her about bridge collapses, speed traps or trooper madness.

Why do I tell you this? Because you buy the paper, most of you, and you know Ginny. You have a right to know that she, like so many experienced and trusted news gatherers, has taken a company buyout.

Today is a dark day at The News. It marks the last day not only for Ginny, but for health writer Anna Velasco. By May veteran political writer Tom Gordon — with more stored memory than an iPad — will be gone. So will young Erin Stock.

It’s not just a News thing, it’s a news thing. They tell us, in fact, that our readership is good and ad revenue is rebounding. But technology and economics have worn on profitability in all news operations. Ours is no exception.

But it hurts. In all, since buyouts were offered in 2008, The News has lost more than 500 years of reporting experience. Decorated reporter Dave Parks — who pretty much discovered “Gulf War Syndrome” — went. State editor Glenn Stephens, who could pilot a newsroom through a storm with an even keel, is gone. Food writer Jo Ellen O’Hara left us, as did outdoors writer Mike Bolton.

We’ve lost 32 people in the newsroom. Twenty were reporters, the real workhorses.

That may look small next to losses at the Raleigh News and Observer, which has seen its news staff fall from 250 to 115, or the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which cut 93 news staffers in one chunk last year. But it hurts.

If there is good news, it is that The News still has 125 people working to gather the news in Alabama’s largest newsroom.

Still, we mourn the losses to the News family. We mourn the loss to readers, to this community, to the republic.

As legendary editor Gene Roberts told a group of journalists last week in New York, journalism job cuts are more than economic news. They’re a matter of public interest.

“This not just a problem for journalism, this is a problem for democracy,” he said. “What a democratic society does not know, it cannot act upon.”

He is right. You need to know. Think of what you know of your government, and try to separate it from the news. Alabama’s most notable corruptions — Don Siegelman, Guy Hunt, Larry Langford, Jeff Germany, the 2-year college system — all started with reporters on the ground. Issues such as the county’s bond debt and crime in neighborhoods bubble to light in the press.

Those of us left in the newsroom will keep digging. For readers. For the republic. For ourselves, for Ginny and Dave and Anna.

We believe there will always be a need, and a market, for news.

There better be. News, as Roberts put it, is “democracy’s food.”

“If we are going to come up with solutions, then democratic society has to understand that there is a problem,” he said.

It’s not just our problem.

• • •

Also:

• • •

Update: The Birmingham News did run Archibald’s status in the print edition. However, you can judge the progressive wording.

Birmingham News - John Archibald

April 16: “John Archibald is taking a break.
His column will resume Wednesday.”

Birmingham News - John Archibald

April 18: “John Archibald’s column will return soon.”

• • •

Update April 21: Archibald and Scarritt did comment … to Poynter, a journalism institute in Florida.

Archibald said,

“I told them at that time that I’d try to make it work, and if not, I’d walk away from it. … I had been here for 11 hours and just couldn’t do it. I was angry.

“I don’t think it (not publishing the column) was a good call, but I understand the pressures (Scarritt is) under.”

Scarritt said,

“I believe strongly in the future of newspapers and the vital role they will play in our communities going forward. I believe there are ways to talk about our current challenges that recognize we do have a future.”

Archibald’s column resumed this morning, today focusing on Alabama oddities.

• • •

Update April 22: Archibald discussed the column flap today during his weekly segment on WBHM (90.3 FM).

“I would have preferred to keep it in the family,” Archibald said.

(He discusses it from 0:30 to 1:45.)

• • •

More coverage of  The Birmingham News.

• • •

Read more Birmingham media updates.

Have a news tip? Let us know!

EXCLUSIVE: Over the Mountain Journal changes editors after 17 years

Over the Mountain Journal, a suburban Birmingham biweekly newspaper, has changed editors after 17 years.

Publisher Maury Wald laid off editor Cara Clark in March “due to the economic slump we’re continuing to struggle with.” The newspaper also laid off Lucy Merrill, features writer for 14 years.

On Monday, Laura McAlister began as the new editor of Over the Mountain Journal. McAlister, shown at left, formerly served as Web editor for the Birmingham Business Alliance and Birmingham Magazine.

Clark, shown at right, said by e-mail:

“As it was explained to me, (Over the Mountain Journal) has sustained revenue losses for many months now, and the publisher could no longer afford to pay my salary.

“With the newspaper industry suffering nationwide, it has been a concern, but our editorial staff (both of us) thought we had a strong enough niche in the community to keep things going. It was quite a surprise when we were told the situation.

“For me, it came at a time when I’d just returned from nearly a month-long embed with the troops in Afghanistan. I think it was time for a change, but a bit more preparation would have been helpful. Still, I hope to return to Afghanistan this summer. Meanwhile, I’m looking for work locally, as I’d just signed an apartment lease before the layoff.

“Being with the troops and experiencing life in Afghanistan was a long-time dream and life-changing experience. It taught me much about myself, including my ability to adapt to inhospitable circumstances in a war zone. I left at the end of December and returned near the end of January.”

• • •

Cara Clark: Facebook | LinkedIn

Laura McAlister: Facebook | LinkedIn

• • •

Read more Birmingham media updates.

Have a news tip? Let us know!

Promotions and demotions at the Birmingham News

Brooks, Clark, Walker

The Birmingham News announced promotions to fill the void at the top, created by Hunter George’s retirement as executive editor, along with Pamela Dugan’s departure as assistant managing editor.

  • Co-assistant managing editors Chuck Clark and Scott Walker are now co-managing editors, effective today. Clark oversees metro, business and features, while Walker oversees editing, production, photo, art and sports.
  • Night metro editor Staff writer Staci Brooks is now director of interactive content, succeeding Robert Sims who moved to AL.com as director of content.

The promotions were effective as of today.

As for demotions, editor Tom Scarritt announced these changes in his Sunday column

  • The Sunday comics will drop from six pages to four.
  • As a result, the following Sunday strips have been dropped:
    • “Cathy”
    • “Doonesbury”
    • “Judge Parker”
    • “Prickly City” (drawn by former News editorial cartoonist Scott Stantis)
    • “Prince Valiant”
  • The weekly North and East community news sections have been combined into one section.

• • •

More coverage of  The Birmingham News.

• • •

Read more Birmingham media updates.

Have a news tip? Let us know!

Bessemer weekly newspaper Western Tribune folds

The Western Tribune has folded after 3 years. The Bessemer weekly newspaper ended with this cryptic post on its site.

The Tribune competed with the Western Star, a weekly newspaper founded in 1983.

The Tribune publisher has not responded to our request for comment.

Also: Bhamwiki entry on both papers

• • •

Read more Birmingham media updates.

Have a news tip? Let us know!

EXCLUSIVE: Birmingham Weekly editor laid off

Birmingham Weekly editor Glenny Brock has been laid off after more than 9 years at the alternative newspaper, Media of Birmingham has learned. She characterized the decision and the discussion with publisher Chuck Leishman as “mutually agreed upon.”

Glenny BrockHer last day and issue will be March 11.

Brock said by phone, “Freelancing not withstanding, it’s the only job I’ve ever had as a grownup, and it has made my career.”

It’s the second recent high-profile exit from the publication in less than 5 weeks: Columnist Kyle Whitmire left in late January.

Brock, who recently returned from an extended vacation in India, declined to give specifics on her next endeavor, except to say that she planned to stay in Birmingham and that she would pursue freelance and creative projects.

She started as a freelancer at the publication in August 2000, becoming a full-time staff member in December of that year, serving as contributing writer, staff writer, calendar editor and managing editor. Brock became editor in September 2002.

She added this statement by e-mail:

It’s time. I will always consider the Weekly my proving ground and the first great love of my professional life. I’ve done a lot of good work there and perhaps some great work. Now, after overseeing the completion of more than 460 issues of the paper and dozens of supplemental publications, it’s time to do something else.

When I became editor, I was fortunate to inherit a stable of writers that included Courtney Haden, Scot Lockman, Allen Barra, Kenn McCracken and Brent Thompson. Surely my greatest accomplishment was the recruitment of strong writers such as Kyle Whitmire, Jesse Chambers, Brooke Michael, Molly Folse, J’Mel Davidson, John Seay, Phil Ratliff and many, many others. Dynamos such as Phillip Jordan, Jonathan Purvis, Wes Frazer, Carey Norris, Andrew Thomas Clifton and Ingrid Norton came to the Weekly on their own, but I believe the relationships I have cultivated with these and other writers and artists are what has made the Weekly a respectable publication.

At this point, I can’t say what my future plans are, but my work at the Weekly has made my future possible.

She said that special projects editor Jesse Chambers has been tapped to succeed her as editor. Chambers began freelancing for Birmingham Weekly in 2004 and became a full-time staff writer in 2009.

A message was left with Leishman, and we hope to update with his response shortly.

• • •

Read more Birmingham media updates.

Have a news tip? Let us know!

EXCLUSIVE: Birmingham News executive editor Hunter George to retire in April

Hunter George is stepping down at the Birmingham News on April 30. The newspaper’s executive editor sent an e-mail to his newsroom colleagues on Wednesday to announce his departure:

At the end of April, I plan to retire after 42 years in the newspaper business. That career includes

  • covering Jane Fonda while getting pepper-gassed at the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach,
  • interviewing Otis Redding, Little Richard and B.B. King,
  • covering one Super Bowl and two Orange Bowls,
  • enticing 30 Miami cops to leave their duty posts and meet me at the FOP hall to complain about the chief,
  • covering a Beatles concert,
  • covering two plane crashes,
  • covering the 1972 Senate race in Florida,
  • supervising 150 summer interns,
  • working 40 election nights,
  • taking a call from Jimmy Cagney at 8:30 on a Sunday morning,
  • and telling the executive editor of The Miami Herald that there was nothing going on one morning and having him respond: “There’s plenty going on; you just don’t know about it.”

What we journalists do is more interesting than what most people do. It has been a privilege to work with you for the past 12 years. I shall think of you all fondly and I promise to call whenever I see a typo.

The News has seen several changes at the top, most recently the arrival of new publisher and president Pam Siddall. Also, buyout offers have been made to the entire staff, with the deadline extended till March. Parent company Advance Publications will end its “no layoffs” pledge at the end of next week.

No word on if or how George’s position will be filled.

• • •

Read more Birmingham media updates.

Have a news tip? Let us know!