The following guide to noteworthy Birmingham-based news outlets is meant to be informative and entertaining. It is also, we admit, short, subjective, and focused almost exclusively on print and online sources, not broadcast news—with one major exception. However, we hope it will serve to entice Magic City news and opinion junkies to climb out of their siloes and sample some media outlets they’ve never tried before, or at least get a new perspective on the ones they already consume.
Still the Biggest
Alabama Media Group
The Birmingham News
The web-first strategy at AMG—owned by Advance Local, part of the Newhouse family’s national media company—is focused on creating compelling content that will drive eyeballs to AL.com, the company’s statewide news website.
Three days a week, some AL.com stories appear in the pages of The Birmingham News, Huntsville Times, and Mobile Press-Register.
Despite complaints about “click-bait” stories and its printing schedule, AMG still breaks lots of good stories and retains a roster of veteran journalists. There are political columnists John Archibald and Kyle Whitmire; crime reporter Carol Robinson; investigative reporter Connor Sheets; and Bob Carlton, a brilliant feature writer, to name just a few.
In fact, AMG is still the only large statewide news gathering operation in Alabama and would not be easily replaced.
After layoffs of about 20 in August 2015, AMG announced it would focus on four areas—breaking news, high school and college sports, Alabama life and culture, and enterprise and investigative news—and put a greater emphasis on video.
Weeklies on a Mission
Weld for Birmingham has been a free weekly newspaper and website that prides itself on giving readers serious, in-depth coverage of local issues since 2011, according to editor Nick Patterson.
“We’ve shed light on problems with local hospitals and political controversies,” Patterson says. “We’ve had coverage of Alabama servicemen and the VA and great cover series on race relations, Cuba, and Fairfield.”
Despite the fact that three of the four founders of the paper came from alt-weeklies, Mark Kelly and Patterson say that Weld is not an alt-weekly in the old sense of the term. “We’ve always thought of Weld as a publication that is essential to anyone who wants to be fully informed about our community and actively engaged in it,”
The Birmingham Times
The Birmingham Times, a weekly newspaper and website, has served the African-American community since 1964.
Now, under the leadership of executive editor Barnett Wright, The Times is enjoying a rebirth made possible this year after the paper’s founder, Dr. Jesse J. Lewis, sold the it to the nonprofit Foundation for Progress
Wright, who spent 15 years with The Birmingham News, says the paper is about “telling good stories” and “making a difference in the lives of people” with its coverage of such subjects as organ donation, health disparities, survivors of cancer or domestic violence, and people who are both African American and gay.
“These are issues that are important, not just to blacks or to whites but to everybody,” Wright says. “It covers the entire
It may seem unusual for a corporation like Alabama Power, a public utility, to become a news provider, but in 2015 it created the Alabama News Center website, which the company calls “a credible, direct source of news and information” for consumers.
The News Center is edited by Michael Tomberlin, a veteran journalist who spent 16 years with The Birmingham News.
The site, which has no advertising, has upbeat content that focuses on such topics as business, charitable giving, and community development. “We also look for other stories about the people, places, and achievements that reflect positively on our state,” Tomberlin said.
Yellowhammer News is a website that offers a conservative view of faith, culture, and politics in the state of Alabama. It was founded as a political blog in 2011 by University of Alabama student Cliff Sims, who later turned it into a news site, according to media reports. Sims, who was also involved in state Republican politics, believed that “people were starved for news in Alabama,” reports The Advertiser-Gleam in Guntersville.
In March 2016, Yellowhammer attracted national attention when it helped break a big story about a sex scandal in Gov. Robert Bentley’s administration. The site published audio tapes of the governor’s cringe-inducing romantic phone conversations with a
BirminghamWatch website is a local manifestation of a national trend: the creation of nonprofit news sources to help serve communities where traditional outlets have cut back on some types of coverage.
“We welcome the chance to concentrate on public service and investigative and explanatory reporting as many news organizations do less of this challenging and revelatory work,” says Carol Nunnelley, the site’s editor and cofounder.
Focusing on such topics as government, education, the environment, and economic development, BirminghamWatch seeks to allow “journalists the focus and time to tackle difficult assignments,” Nunnelley says.
BirminghamWatch often partners with such nonprofit news organizations as WBHM as well as for-profit entities like Weld or B-Metro.
Its other two co-founders were Weld publisher Mark Kelly and Jerome Lanning, a Birmingham attorney.
On the Airwaves, on the Web
WBHM, the local National Public Radio affiliate, produces an impressive array of local and state news content. The station features regular appearances by AL.com columnists John Archibald and Kyle Whitmire and Weld editor Nick Patterson. The station—located on the UAB campus—carries the national news broadcasts Morning Edition and All Things Considered. And if appointment radio is not your thing, its website has it all when you’re ready.
Community News Matters
Many outlets across the country, including AL.com and The News, have chosen—or been forced—to cut back on local coverage, but that doesn’t mean nobody wants to read it. In fact, in Birmingham, “there is an appetite for community news,” Nunnelley says.
Nunnelley says that Starnes Publishing in Homewood has made community coverage the “core of its successful business.” Starnes operates seven monthly papers—six in the suburbs and one, the recently created Iron City Ink, in Birmingham.
- Read More: State of the Local News Media