Magazine article Editor & Publisher

The Birmingham (Ala.) News

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

The Birmingham (Ala.) News

Article excerpt

Pound for pound, newspapers published in the Sun Belt are among the best in the nation. In some places, especially in Florida, one reason for this is because the competition is so good. But for many, it's a matter of being in the right place at the right time as relentless household growth in their markets buffer the industry's harsher realities.

And then there's The Birmingham News in Alabama -- a paper that keeps getting better, earning a Pulitzer this year among other honors while serving a city that continues to shrink.

"Birmingham is a Rust Belt, steel-making city that follows the trends of a Detroit or a Cleveland," says Assistant Managing Editor Chuck Close, the editor of the News' ambitious ongoing series "Birmingham at the Crossroads."

The project takes an unblinking look at all the factors holding the city down -- among them racial resentments, blight, a broken education system, and a simple lack of trust. The News devoted one article to show the city fathers that other fractious groups learned to build trust, and gain civic progress. One example was a fund-raising effort by an elite Birmingham college to finally restore the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church 24 years after a bomb set by segregationists killed four black girls there.

At a time when other metros are shrinking newsrooms, the Newhouse-owned News has the biggest newsgathering staff in Alabama, maintains bureaus in four metro locations and the state capital, and has its own Washington reporter. …

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