Digital Momentum

Tackling local problems, e-style.

by André Natta

It’s always interesting to take a step back and see just how our digital community continues to evolve. Two online initiatives recently undertaken have pointed out some level of belief in the future of Birmingham, as well as once again pooling resources to help those in need.

I’ve seen some comments online from folks saying they were tired of hearing about the 400 people cut across the state of Alabama at Advance Publications newsrooms. Some of them have an opportunity to apply for a new position, but many of them will have to look elsewhere, potentially leading to having to have entire families uprooted shortly after the beginning of the school year.

Perhaps they’re tired of hearing about them, but considering the cumulative effect of all of the cuts made in the media/publishing sector in recent years, I’m glad some individuals have stepped up to make sure the discussion involving how we keep this talent in the state continues to be front and center. It’s extremely important that information is shared no matter what the platform, but it’s equally important that those who are able to separate the wheat from the chaff are given the opportunity to do so whenever possible.

AL News Jobs was created by several former journalists now working for local communications firm Luckie & Co., led by David Griner, the company’s vice president/director of digital content and himself a former journalist. They secured a Twitter account, @ALNewsJobs, and created a brand page on Facebook only hours after learning of the newsroom cuts at The Birmingham News, The Mobile Press-Register, and The Huntsville Times. The effort’s hashtag, #ALNewsJobs, has not gone unnoticed by other media professionals across the country as jobs have been shared from some unlikely places like Winston-Salem, NC and Seattle, WA. It was interesting though to realize just how many positions were currently open in the metro area — perhaps a sign of what’s to come. If nothing else, one may want to do a quick once over of the listings currently being shared on the Google Docs file created for those not on any social network – and be in awe of those caring enough to share.

Speaking of the city’s newspaper of record, a recent story in The News focused on an effort to attract an NBA franchise to the Magic CIty after several in town were wowed by the support being received by the Oklahoma City Thunder during their first NBA Finals appearance. This is not the first time residents are showing interest in attracting a major–league level team to the city, though it’s a little different this time as the odds of securing a team either here or anywhere else in the country via expansion or relocation seems remote.

While the ensuing conversations at sports bars and coffee houses in metro Birmingham were probably quite passionate, the ability to measure that level of interest by the number of followers of the NBA Birmingham Twitter profile seems just a little more palpable — and lends hope to achieving the impossible. The profile had already garnered more than 2,000 followers in its first three days of existence, with more set to take part and learn how they can add their voices to the cause offline. They’ve already hinted at creating stickers, buttons and a video to help make their case.

One thing to keep in mind as these efforts continue into the summer is best described by paraphrasing a famous line from a film about another major sport – if you build it, they may not come. People have to be made aware of the effort in order to know something is out there to be supported. It is amazing to see how both of these efforts have continued to gain strength and momentum. It’s also nice to sense the level of caring and commitment this city can show, both to its desires and its people

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