Thursday, June 4, 2009

Birmingham News is on Shaky Financial Ground

The Birmingham News, the only daily newspaper in Alabama's largest city, has announced that it is enacting graduated pay cuts for most employees.

This comes on the heels of buyouts offered to about 85 veteran employees last year.

Even though it enjoys a monopoly in this market, the newspaper clearly is struggling financially.

Columnist John Archibald assures the world that the News will forge ahead. But I suspect Archibald is too much of a company man to fully grasp why his organization is failing.

Certainly lost ad revenue during a Bush-initiated recession is a key factor. And the paper's classified-ads section has been shrinking for months, with the Web offering better alternatives for many ad buyers.

But I would submit that the News' greatest failing involves journalism, not new "business paradigms."

I am 52 years old, and one of the most important stories of my lifetime has taken place right under the News' nose. Over the past eight years, the U.S. Justice Department has been used as a political tool, causing a number of innocent individuals to become political prisoners.

This sounds like a story out of Josef Stalin's Soviet Union. But it has happened--and is still happening--right here in the United States. And the story's roots, thanks to the Don Siegelman case and Karl Rove's personal history, are firmly planted in Alabama.

But our state's largest newspaper has done zero serious reporting on the story. In fact, it has mostly helped cover it up by acting as cheerleader for corrupt Bush prosecutors Alice Martin and Leura Canary.

The fundamental purpose of a newspaper is not to sell ads. It is to practice serious and responsible journalism. The News has failed miserably in that regard. And I suspect that has a lot to do with why it is struggling financially.


Robby Scott Hill said...

To paraphrase Rush Limbaugh, I hope The Birmingham News fails. It's almost as bad as Pravda was under Stalin. Today Pravda is a more objective and balanced paper than The Birmingham News because they did report on what The Bush Justice Department was doing to American political prisoners.

Anonymous said...

Is this it?

If so, they're private, powerful, and HUGE. I doubt they'll topple any time soon.

One thing is for certain, news organizations have their favorites. If they didn't, they wouldn't sponsor one politician over another during campaign seasons.

James Greek said...


I hate to tell you this man, but it's all about te money. A newspaper is a business and they are there to make $. That's all they are worried about. The way to make money is to sell ads.