Tag Archives: Sam George

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.)

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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.

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More coverage of Birmingham Weekly.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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More coverage of Birmingham Weekly.

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Read more Birmingham media updates.

Have a news tip? Let us know!