Friday, May 25, 2012

Biased "Reporting," Not Technology, Led to the Steep Decline of The Birmingham News

The Birmingham News building

I've been pretty much a lifelong fan of newspapers, and it always pains me when one goes under. But if a newspaper ever deserved to go out of business, it's The Birmingham News. And that's where it appears to be headed--along with its sister Advance Media publications, The Huntsville Times and Mobile Press-Register.

Actually, it's premature to say the three Alabama newspapers are going out of business. But yesterday's announcement that this fall they will begin printing three days a week (Wednesday, Friday, Sunday) means their days as print entities are numbered. Birmingham-based author and blogger Don Keith predicts that the papers no longer will be printing at all within two years, and my guess is that he's right on target.

Why would anyone subscribe to a "daily" newspaper that comes out three days a week? It's one of the dumbest business strategies I've ever heard of. I would suggest that the papers cease print operations immediately if they can't function as true dailies.

Do the News, Times, and P-R have futures as strictly digital news organizations? It's possible. But with the infrastructure of print operations in place--and the burden of their associated costs--it looks like they face a rocky ride.

The Advance Media spin machine is playing this as a reaction to changing technology. But I would submit it's more about bias, backward thinking, and old-fashioned incompetence. You might call yesterday's announcement Don Siegelman's Revenge.

Throughout the 2000s, one of our nation's most important stories was the decay of the U.S. Justice Department under George W. Bush. It was a coast-to-coast story, but several of its most compelling chapters unfolded in Alabama, led by the prosecution of Siegelman, a popular former Democratic governor, and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy.

Coverage in the Advance Media newspapers consisted mostly of cheerleading pieces for Bush-era prosecutors Alice Martin and Leura Canary. The papers made almost no serious effort to address compelling evidence that the cases were driven for political reasons by Bush strategist Karl Rove and his associates.

At the same time, the papers provided fawning coverage of Republican Governor Bob Riley, in spite of powerful evidence that Riley might have been running one of the most corrupt regimes in state history.

In essence, the News and its brethren became house organs for the Alabama Republican Party. The papers were blatantly geared toward white, suburban elites--of whatever political stripe. The papers ignored a huge portion of their possible audience--those of color, those who are liberal, progressive, middle class, poor, forward thinking.

In the midst of the "Information Age," when the need for real journalism is stronger than ever, The Birmingham News failed to provide information and analysis that addresses serious issues.

Businesses that ignore huge chunks of the market, in competitive and tight economic times, usually suffer the consequences. That's what happened to the Advance newspapers in Alabama.

They aren't dead yet, but their breathing is labored. And it's not likely to get smoother any time soon.


Anonymous said...

I sued Advance Publications, at least I sued the Oregonian News and its owner, Samuel I. Newhouse Jr.:

"... Samuel Irving Newhouse Jr. (born November 8, 1927), nicknamed Si Newhouse, is the chairman and CEO of Advance Publications, which, among other interests, owns Condé Nast Publications, publisher of many marquee brands in the world of magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and Portfolio. He is the son of Samuel Irving Newhouse, Sr., founder of Advance Publications. His grandson, S.I. Newhouse IV, appeared in the documentary Born Rich.

I sued the Oregonian and Maxine Bernstein in the County of Cowlitz, Superior Court, Kelso Seat in the State of Washington.

The law firm of Stoel Rives from Vancouver, Washington, sent D. Jeff Courser, an attorney who proceeded to get an ORDER which another JUDGE was not favorably deposed towards - EX PARTE AND NO DUE PROCESS - the POWER wielded in the court by the NEWS' PUBLISHERS' is indeed a cog in our U.S. wheel of going forward.

And so I've appealed the SANCTION that Stoel Rives asked imposed so the NEWS does not get exposed for the R.I.C.O., that MURDOCK is also involved in.

MURDOCK of course was privy through the UK and other governments, to the children kidnapped and therefore, profits were HUGELY GLOBAL in what the news was also orchestrating.

Lots of power, "News, Media."

Time for the common people to take back our information power and not allow the conglomerate multi billionaire and trillionare classes to farm we trout in the dirty water any longer.


James Greek said...

and I think during the election in '02 I think they slung Siegelman's name thru the mud.

Pam Miles said...

The day The Huntsville Times endorsed Bob Riley over Governor Don Siegelman in 2002 was the day I canceled my subscription.

legalschnauzer said...

Then, when there was powerful evidence that someone stole the election for Riley in Baldwin County, all three papers did zero serious reporting on the issue. Think of all the stories they have ignored in order to not upset the elites who run this state. Technology did not make these newspapers dinosaurs; they did it to themselves. Reporting is the key service that newspapers provide, and they stopped providing it. Serious readers have known for years that they had become house organs for elites. So those readers stopped taking the papers seriously. There aren't enough elites to support these rags. They should contact the U.S. Chamber for a bailout.

James Greek said...

Well said, Roger.

jeffrey spruill said...

Get in touch with this crook:

And ask him why his daddy-Frank Batten Jr. suddenly decided to ditch the Weather Channel:

And aren't these events of Dec.19,2007too much of a coincidence:

jeffrey spruill said...

More good news!

Conrad Shumadine, an attorney for the newspaper, said the story was accurate and carefully reported.

Anonymous said...

They have a piss poor webmaster .. I cant stand to look at the site. It sucks.

jeffrey spruill said...

The professional fraud attorney--David W. Bouchard,Esq. whose former law partner is now Judge Randall D. Smith & threw out a jury's $5 million award against the Va. Pilot-- just threatened to lock me up for inquiring about his connection to Erik Prince.(Bouchard told me I was digging my own grave Dec.22,2004)..

I found out what he meant when 2 guys came barging into the house July16,2009 carrying little hand held walkie talkies-- taking me into a room--- peeking out between the blinds--- then suddenly leaving as fast as they barged in...

Dave said...

Rarely is the question asked, is our newspapers (press in general) reporting the news?

We all know the answer is NO. The "press" has become a marketing tool for those in power, and I think that the rest of us, even if we may not identify with the 99% or OWS are starting to see that...

Dave said...

btw, keep up the good work.

Redeye said...

"But I would submit it's more about bias, backward thinking, and old-fashioned incompetence. You might call yesterday's announcement Don Siegelman's Revenge."

Not just Siegelman's Revenge, but all the democrats/liberals they helped criminalize just because they were democrats/liberals.

I long for the days when the media kept our elected officials from lying to us instead of enabling them to lie without impunity, and when they protected the good guys from the bad guys instead of turning the winners into the losers and the losers into the winners.

This post and the demise of the Newhouse media chain illustrates the disconnect between the media elite and the rest of us.

legalschnauzer said...

Good point, Redeye. This goes way beyond the Siegelman case. Just think of the Democrats targeted--Schmitz, Germany, McLain, McNair, Latifi, Langford . . . I can't even remember them all. Gary White was a Republican, who was targeted mainly for refusing to testify against Siegelman. Were some of these folks guilty as charged? It's possible. But are we to believe that corruption exists only in Birmingham or Jefferson County government--never in Shelby County, Hoover, Mountain Brook, Homewood, Vestavia, Gardendale, Trussville? No palms ever get greased on all of those developments, commercial and residential, that go up in the suburbs? Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I'm worried about Eddie Curran, the former "investigative" reporter for the Mobile Press-Register, who hounded Don Siegelman to death. Poor Eddie's only claim to fame is his self-published, take-all-the-credit-for-Siegelman-going-to jail-book which makes a great doorstop. Eddie's whole sense of self-worth is tied to Don Siegelman; Eddie doesn't know where Don begins and he ends. And now, as he hawks his books from the back of his car, he has to say he once worked for the "tri-weekly" Press-Register. Hang in there big guy!

Anonymous said...

Wow, what great comments and especially the participation of community. I'm learning more about this concept in the County of Cowlitz, WA State.

A PETITION has begun and is circulating. Basically asking for QUALITY OF LIFE OPEN FORUMS. To be submitted into the Court, requesting of course the FORUMS are held at the public building.

The DIGITAL MONIES naturally to be discussed in full transparency.

We need to reboot our information stream via the court open forum system to discover what is the outlook for our rights, Article I, Section 9, Clause 7, simply begin here regarding computer monies in these "aught years."

The NEWS MEDIA and Natural Resource - Public Utilities "owners" as well as the banksters, fraudsters, and all the militant police enforced control AND name an American Enterprising CAPITALISTIC Predatory "Elite Family" that has not "decided" the U.S. Constitution's protection is old fashioned, not a CONTRACT to be honored, same old story about an Empire Agenda.

The author, Pepe Escobar, has written: OBAMA DOES GLOBALISTAN, and the U.S. Media is held accountable for selling the world and of course then, Americans, that the United States of America was the world power, all countries get used to "Empire U.S.A."

Again, how inspiring LS, thank you, Roberta - I really need this today.

jeffrey spruill said...

Additionally, the Office of the Pardon Attorney may communicate directly with the Counsel to the President and the Deputy Counsel to the President concerning Presidential clemency matters.


Scroll down to the bottom and you'll find the person Bush commuted the federal sentence was a woman from Portsmouth,Va.(this is how to circumvent an order from the U.S. Attorney General limiting contact between the White House & Karl Rove's DOJ.)(it also shows up in an article in Frank Batten Jr./Conrad Shumadine's Va. Pilot)

David said...

The Newhouse papers have decide to drop four days of publication or 57% of their acvertising space. What if some body could pull all of the soon to be out of work news staffers and out them together as one statewide newspaper that would have different inside sections for local news, sports and classifieds for the three metro areas. This operation could market ad space to the local and national advertisers tehe Newhouse has walked away from.

LS, of course would be the editor.

Who wants to call theser folks together and host the meeting?