Category: BirminghamWatch

Reading Birmingham: Miss Fancy Tells Sweet Story of Jim Crow’s Harsh Reality

“Meet Miss Fancy” by Irene Latham; illustrated by John Holyfield (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2019).

Miss Fancy the elephant is a Birmingham legend. In her children’s book “Meet Miss Fancy,” Birmingham author Irene Latham uses that legend and the truth behind it to tell a story of race, exclusion and hope. Read more.

Nunnelley Selected for Distinguished Mass Media Achievement Award at Auburn

BirminghamWatch founder Carol Nunnelley has been selected for the 2019 Distinguished Mass Media Achievement Award by the Auburn University Journalism Advisory Council.
Nunnelley, a graduate of Samford University, is among five journalists who were selected for this year’s journalism awards by the Auburn Council.
Others who will be honored at a luncheon and program on Sept. 13 are Kim Chandler, Associated Press Alabama capital reporter; Connor Sheets, Alabama Media Group investigative reporter; John Underwood, Baldwin County editor/reporter; and John Zenor, Associated Press sports reporter.
Read more.

Investigative Reporting Must Overcome Obstacles From Without and Within

This week’s child sex trafficking charges against wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein are a testament to the impact of investigative reporting, in this case by determined journalists from The Miami Herald, who dug through documents, tracked down victims and told a story not only of horrendous crimes but also of enablers and leniency from the court system. It wasn’t easy. Investigative journalism never is. And alarmingly, it’s getting harder to do.
Uncovering malfeasance is becoming more difficult for multiple reasons. Start with rising government restrictions on access to information (laws and court rulings), non-compliance with open-records statutes, and threats of costly lawsuits by news subjects. Further, the boffo investigations by major national outlets are not being replicated to the same extent at the local and regional levels. The well-documented shrinkage of newsrooms across the U.S. has taken a big bite out of community watchdog journalism, reflected not only in fewer staff to do the job but also in newsroom priorities.
Read more.

House Fire Kills Mother of BirminghamWatch’s Robert Carter

A fire destroyed a Fairfield home early this morning, killing the 90-year-old mother of frequent BirminghamWatch contributor Robert Carter.

Carter said he was in bed when he smelled smoke. He went into the living room to find a broken lamp and the curtains on fire. He tried to put the fire out, but it spread quickly. He yelled for his mother and did manage to wake her up, but she was unable to escape the house because of the thick smoke, Carter said.

The fire swept to the attic and collapsed the roof, destroying the house, in the 700 block of 41st Street South in Fairfield.

Funeral arrangements for Ginny Carter, 90, have not been set.

A fund to accept donations has been set up at the Carters’ church, Garywood Assembly of God. For information, call 744-8135.

A Universal Action: When PR’s Goal Is to Hide the Truth

Very few people knew just how devastating was the June 2008 fire at the Universal Music Group’s archives that destroyed the master recordings of thousands of musical artists – from Count Basie to Snoop Dog, Chuck Berry to Nirvana.

The company made sure.

In fact, it took 11 years before the public began to fully understand the loss. The New York Times Magazine revealed the losses in its story published June 11, 2019..

The story is worth reading for many reasons – as an accounting of what happened, and insight into the magnitude of the losses that go beyond the mere millions of dollars and cents.

But there’s another way to read the story — as an example of public relations scheming. The Times’ story points out many places where Universal’s public relations staff did its best to hide the extent of the losses — to itself, to the music makers who entrusted their original master recordings to the company and to the public. Only with insurance filings did it seem to reveal the losses. Read more.

Should We Hear the Lies and the Hate?

Whenever White House adviser Kellyanne Conway appears on a TV news or talk show, I switch the channel to more useful programming, such as the Home Shopping Network selling something in which I have no interest. Conway, who traffics in distortion and lies, is among the media circuit regulars who has spawned industry debate as to whether some people deserve an interview and appearance ban. A combative December appearance by Conway on Chris Cuomo’s CNN news talk show, for instance, produced a live, long and lively argument between Cuomo and CNN news anchor Don Lemon.

 A more recent repeat of the same issue, but involving a more offensive individual, occurred two weeks ago when conservative commentator and author Ben Shapiro, who could less politely be described as a hateful troll, was aggressively questioned by an interviewer on a BBC politics show. Shapiro, who unlike Conway does not advise a national decision maker (but who is popular enough that he filled the lecture room at a February appearance at the University of Alabama), abruptly walked out of the interview on live TV. Nesrine Malik, a columnist for The Guardian, wrote: “No matter how much those with regressive, prejudiced or simply dishonest views are challenged, it is pointless if they are constantly provided a venue. It is the platform that legitimizes them, not how they perform when they are on that platform.”

Read more.

Huntsville Area Leads the State in Population Growth

The Birmingham-Hoover MSA grew by just 2,116 people in 2017-2018. The area ranked 251th out of 383 MSAs in terms of population growth rate, according to an analysis of census data conducted by the Public Research Council of Alabama.

The Huntsville MSA led the state in percentage of population growth, ranking it 64th in the country. It added 6,952 people to its ranks in the period.

Other large metros in the state fell below Birmingham-Hoover in terms of growth, with Mobile ranked 324th and Montgomery 327th. However, those two areas lost population in 2017-2018, as did some other metro areas in the U.S. Read more.

Reactions to Alabama’s New Abortion Ban

The Alabama Legislature’s passage of a law to make almost all abortions in the state illegal drew attention across the country. Here are a few of the angles being addressed by the press:

Alabama Aims Squarely at Roe, but the Supreme Court May Prefer Glancing Blows (New York Times)

Televangelist Pat Robertson: Alabama’s Abortion Ban Is ‘Extreme’ and Has ‘Gone Too Far’ (Washington Post)

Alabama’s Extremist Abortion Bill Ruins John Roberts’ Roe Plan: SCOTUS was all teed up to quietly gut America’s abortion rights. Then Alabama happened. (Slate)

What Alabama’s Abortion Legislation Could Mean for the Rest of the Country (Video) (Washington Post)

23 Ways Anti-Abortion Activists Are Attempting to Erode Roe v. Wade Without Repealing It (Business Insider)

Abortion Laws Are Changing Across US. Here’s a State-by-State Guide and What It Means (Miami Herald)

What the Alabama Abortion Bill Really Aims to Do (CNN)

Alabama’s Lawmakers Want to Challenge Roe v. Wade (The Economist)

Read more.