Category Archives: Media

UPDATED: Alabama Media Group sees layoffs statewide, four in Birmingham

Logo-Alabama-Media-GroupAlabama Media Group, the company responsible for the production of The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times, and the Mobile Press-Register in addition to, internally announced layoffs on Monday. Mobile and saw five (5) positions affected; Birmingham also had five positions affected, including four on the newsroom side.

The following was provided to The Terminal this morning by the company’s vice president for content, Michelle Holmes.

Dear team:

Today, we made a variety of changes in our staff.  In our quest to constantly focus on a sustainable future, we have had to make some very tough decisions about which positions and who best fits into that future.

Because such personnel matters are sensitive, and circumstances in each case unique, we will not address specific moves. Individuals’ situations will be kept confidential, as any of us would want with regard to our own employment.

We have been clear for the last several months that we are regularly assessing our staffing needs, our skills and our overall performance in building and serving audiences. Today’s moves are part of that process.

As you know, we have recently hired several people in different roles, and we have job postings active for others. We remain committed to building this company, ensuring we have the right people in the right roles and adding to the overall skills and abilities of our teams in all locations.

While we recognize the difficulty of decisions like these, it is critical that we do what is necessary to position ourselves to be able to provide significant local journalism both now and in the future.

I look forward to ongoing conversations with you as we move forward together in that mission.

The changes at the company follow a little more than three weeks after an optimistic bi-annual letter from Advance Local president Randy Siegel; one that hinted at potential layoffs across the company (as reported by Poynter on January 6). The letter stated the company anticipates it will see digital ad sales growth outpace declines in print ad sales this year.

It was not the only announcements related to layoffs in newsrooms in the southeastern United States from Monday. posted on Tuesday morning about layoffs at the Chattanooga Times Free-Press – on the same day they learned of a merit bonus. The New Orleans Advocate also reported on layoffs set to take place in late March at the New Orleans Times-Picayune as they prepare to move from their long-time headquarters. This is part of a plan to outsource the printing of their newspaper to the Alabama Central Service’s facility in Mobile, resulting in 100 additional job losses announced last year.

UPDATE, 1/29/2015: The text of this story now reflects additional information received since the initial report was filed. It also includes information about additional job reductions at other Advance properties in the southeastern United States.

Proposal for chain link fence around parking lot on 18th Street tabled at Design Review Committee meeting

ALcom parking lotThere was one additional item added to last week’s Design Review Committee meeting agenda (you can click here to view the preview post). Despite this, the committee still only heard three items as representatives for the first one did not appear. The path forward involving the item — a parking lot — will go a long way toward defining how a major entry point into the city’s central business district looking in the short term.

The property in question is owned by Robert Crook and currently leased by Alabama Media Group (AMG)/ It sits on the southeast corner of 18th Street and 1st Avenue North — sitting catty-corner from the soon-to-be demolished BJCTA Central Station and a short walk from both Alabama Power’s Powell Avenue steam plant and Railroad Park.

ProposedAL.comparking fencing-PageLift 625

The proposal presented called for a six-foot tall black chain link fence to be erected around the property, delineating the difference between the parking spaces contained within and a vacant lot directly to its east. Representatives for AMG told the committee the fence was needed to help deter people from cutting through the parking lot on their way to Railroad Park and the bus station. The current lack of a barrier along the 1st Avenue North and Morris Avenue edges of the lot had led to some vehicles being damaged. The fence would sit four feet inside of the property line and behind a Buford holly hedge already in existence along 18th Street and proposed to be extended along 1st Avenue North and Morris Avenue. The existing traffic pattern on the property would remain, with one way in off of 1st Avenue North and two exit gates along Morris Avenue.

Committee members had concerns about the height of the fence and the precedent it may set moving forward. They requested Crook and AMG consider whether a shorter fence, particularly one four-feet in height, would be more appropriate. They pointed out that 3′ of that fence would be blocked from view by the Buford holly hedges. They also asked if the applicant would consider the placement of trees along the property edge. The item was tabled pending conversations between the applicant, the tenant, and the architectural firm working on the project.

In other business, the committee approved the installation of a mural on the exterior wall of East 59; and they approved proposed changes to the exterior of the building that houses Unity of Birmingham in Highland Park.

Investigative journalism initiative announced last week, initial focus this week

Tutwiler photoAlabama Media Group, producers of The Birmingham News and, and the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) announced a collaborative initiative, the Alabama Investigative Journalism Lab, last week. The lab is set to focus on journalism rich in digital storytelling and audience engagement based on the blog post and press release on CIR’s website on February 27.

CIR executive director Robert J. Rosenthal will serve as senior adviser for three months. A post describing the partnership on last week says the former award-winning reporter and editor will also serve as a contributor to a new fellowship established in the lab.

Among the first topics the lab will be focusing its attention, you ask? Prisons. The topic is not one the news organization has necessarily ignored; it all but predicted a lawsuit or investigation in a January 2012 editorial. has also been working on a series of pieces looking at the effects of the Affordable Care Act on the state of Alabama.

It will be interesting to see the types of collaborative efforts the new partnership will forge here in central Alabama. Two possible local partners that stand out are WIAT (CBS42) and WBRC (Fox 6) due to reports filed by Kaitlin McCulley and Beth Shelburne (respectively) in 2012 when the Equal Justice Initiative filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice about the the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women. The subsequent investigation led to a damning report from the federal agency and the national publications like The New York Times asking if it’s enough to finally lead to change for the state system.

WIAT uploaded McCulley’s three-part series from 2012 to YouTube in January. Shelburne’s November 2012 follow-up to her original piece from that May is available on the station’s website, as is a follow-up post from last spring. The Justice for the Women of Tutwiler Prison fan page on Facebook shows some other potential partners for at least a portion of this new effort.

The new initiative is well underway, as this piece filed by Stan Diel today demonstrates. They are using the hashtag #alprisons to make it easier to follow via social networks.

The Radio Carousel: Big changes at The Mountain and over the mountain

The Mountain - official logoThere are several fans of Scott Register and Birmingham Mountain Radio (BMR) who no doubt had no trouble changing the presets in their car as they prepared for their commute home on Tuesday. That’s because BMR confirmed earlier in the day to their new home on terrestrial radio at 107.3 FM. The station, launched online in December 2010, became the first of its kind to start as an internet-only outlet securing an over the air signal afterward when it started its partnership with locally owned media company SummitMedia at 12 p.m. CT.

It was also a busy first part of the week  just over the mountain at Samford University, where officials revealed the creation of Samford Sports Properties on Monday. The new marketing arm of the university’s athletics department also announced multi-year agreements with Birmingham radio stations 99.5 The Vibe and AM 690 The Fan (both owned by Cumulus Media). One of the most important parts of the partnership is the ability for Samford sports to reach a wider audience due to the signal strength of the stations.

lass_ken_squareFinally (though we realize it’s not a radio story), fans of Ken Lass should be happy to learn he’s not only returned to Alabama’s 13 as a host of Daytime Alabama, but he’s once again teaming with his former morning co-anchor Wendy Garner. Monday was his first day.

Finebaum heads to Charlotte (while ESPN looks to cut costs)

Paul Finebaum, photo for column sig SPORTSThere is no doubt we’ll still be hearing callers from throughout the southeastern United States as Paul Finebaum grows what ESPN hopes will be a national network of rabid college fans eager to share their opinions with him on the air. Tuesday saw The Wall Street Journal publish a report about Finebaum’s new deal with ESPN. The formal announcement and first appearances on the network’s television and radio networks came Thursday morning.

The news of Finebaum’s departure from Birmingham broke just hours after word leaked from Bristol, CT about a significant number of employees being laid off by “the worldwide sports leader” as a cost-cutting measure. Most of the initial cuts took place in the company’s sales and technology departments and resulted in an approximately 5% reduction in workforce but more are expected in the coming weeks. The folks at Business Insider published a chart earlier this week providing a better visual understanding of the May 21 BigLeadSports post suggesting the rising cost of live sports was a major reason for the layoffs. published a story earlier today suggesting the layoffs were probably a little overdue and that the company will still continue hiring in new areas – like Finebaum’s new home come August 2014. Now, even though we do live in what many would consider the heart of SEC country, it probably wouldn’t hurt to visit and make sure the new station has a presence in metro Birmingham come 2014.


The Tuscaloosa News to offer home delivery in Birmingham

Tuscaloosa News boxes appearing in BirminghamFolks may have noticed a few more blue newspaper boxes sitting on street corners than normal across Birmingham, AL. This box for The Tuscaloosa News recently made its debut on the northeast corner of 20th Street and 2nd Avenue North and was spotted yesterday morning.

There are approximately 100 boxes in the area right now including a few like this one that have recently made their debut. Starting soon, there will be another way to get the newspaper – delivered daily – on your doorstep.

A phone conversation with the News’ circulation manager, Tony Heaps, confirms that the paper has started accepting requests for home delivery, with plans to begin on Monday, October 22. Deliveries will be handled by the vendor currently delivering The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and USA Today to homes here in town. It will also cost a little more to get it on your doorstep than it does in Tuscaloosa – $4.50/week compared to $3.90/week – in order to cover the costs associated with delivery.

The expanded delivery area into Alabama’s largest city also includes expanded coverage of it inside as well. Much of that content is available on the paper’s website after you’ve created an account.

The expanded circulation is a response to the reduced print schedule adopted by The Birmingham News at the beginning of October.

The paper was owned by The New York Times until last December when it was included in a sale of 16 publications to Halifax Media Holdings.

Local ABC affiliate under the media microscope

ABC 33/40 logoIt’s not like Birmingham, AL hasn’t been making its share of news about news recently. It appeared to do so again yesterday, when Jim Romanesko’s website highlighted a decision by the city’s ABC affiliate, ABC 33/40, to pull a story about the pending nuptials for Good Morning America’s weekday weatherman, Sam Champion and his his longtime boyfriend Rubem Robierb announced last week.

The thread that originated the conversation was started on October 8, three days after the original post was made to the station’s website. It was the same day they posted a link on their Facebook page to a brief piece on gay marriage as it relates to the race for Alabama’s State Supreme Court chief justice.

The link referenced to in the Romanesko story does indeed point to the site’s “our apologies” page.

A search online though does provide a link to an AP story posted to the owned station’s site about the nuptials (the one referenced in this Facebook thread). According to the site, the AP story was published at 3:17 p.m. CT on October 5 (the same day it appeared on the GMA portion of the Yahoo! News site at 2:25 p.m. ET ) and references his title on the show in the URL slug. A close look at the URL sequence also shows that the link referenced to in the Facebook thread was a newer post (#19762177), perhaps a duplicate to the original (its sequence number is 19748879).

The removal of the Facebook references are ironic when you consider the same day Champion’s news broke, they shared another piece via their fan page about the expanded influence of the social network. It does make you wonder though what would have happened had this series of events happened on Saturday (it’s the official observance of  Gen Y Get Offline Day) or next March during the National Day of Unplugging… Or do you ever unplug?