Tag Archives: al.com

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)/AL.com. 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 AL.com, 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 AL.com 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. AL.com 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.

AL.com’s got some new online digs


Screenshot of new al.com front page.

They’ve been getting those of us throughout the state ready for it for weeks, and this afternoon, AL.com’s new design was launched. Before the critics point this out, yes, you can find a similar look on other sites associated with them, including nj.com. Now with that out of the way…

Click on the screenshot to head on over there (or here) and take a look around.

UPDATE: The Birmingham News… it’s gone blog!

Screenshot of Birmingham News test page

Screenshot of potential “new” Birmingham News homepage.

Well, apparently not yet… though we were able to catch this screenshot of a revamped Birmingham News homepage about mid-morning – though it’s currently gone back to its original state. The redesign resembled the layout that is currently in use on al.com’s entertainment section.

We’re not sure if we just stumbled across something by accident or not, but we’re sure that our friends at al.com will let us know…

UPDATE: 1:12 p.m. – According to the folks at the paper, the page has been fixed, and it is now active as it is picture above. It was suffering problems due to the severe weather affecting the region right now.

al.com is live – on Twitter!

aldotcom Twitter profile screenshot

Screenshot of al.com’s Twitter page.

So just before I was about to say that it was a shame that al.com hadn’t gotten it’s own Twitter profile yet – poof! – it magically appears.

Most of the mainstream media in the city recently joined the Twitterverse (even if they aren’t all joining in the conversation that it’s supposed to be spawning). Luckily though, unlike the tweets sent out by The Birmingham News, the links from the al.com feed actually take you directly to the stories directly.

Still waiting for that first Fox 6 tweet though…