Category: BirminghamWatch

Did a reporter really ask that question?

It’s about five hours after a cargo ship hit the Key Bridge in Baltimore, collapsing it and sending six construction workers on the bridge into the water. The city’s mayor is holding a press conference when a reporter asks him: “How long is it going to take to rebuild the bridge?”

Calmly and immediately, the mayor responds: “We shouldn’t even be having that discussion right now. The discussion right now should be about the people, the souls, the lives that we’re trying to save. There will be a time to discuss about a bridge and how we get our bridge back up but right now there are people in the water that we have to get out.”

On social media, the mayor got mostly applause. The reporter got mostly ripped apart. One X poster wrote: “Shoutout to our mayor Brandon Scott for focusing on the people and showcasing empathy, because the nerve of that reporter to ask about the bridge repair. Like, sir read the (expletive) room.”

I understand why many people saw the reporter’s question as disrespectful to the victims. But I don’t have a problem with it. How about you? Read more.

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Author Gives Gritty Look at Life Growing Up in Central City

“Central City’s Joy and Pain: Solidarity, Survival, and Soul in a Birmingham Housing Project”: (University of Georgia Press, 2024) by Jerome E. Morris.

Jerome Morris has written a book about home.

Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s in the Central City housing project on the northeast edge of downtown Birmingham, Morris came of age in a community that could be by turns brutal and nurturing.

It was, he writes, a place of “Block parties, freeze cups, shooting marbles … kissing in the hallways, fighting, borrowing butter and eggs, Powell School, my mama, five older brothers and a younger sister, the free summer lunch program, the Double Dutch Bus, Mr. Hook’s store, the Electric Poppers and the CC Poppers, free school breakfast and lunch, due bills, and the music of Frankie Beverly and Maze.”

Central City was a world of extremes — a world where many men were in prison, out of prison, or on the road to prison. But also it was a world where older people mentored and watched protectively over young people. Read more.

Balance in Journalism Is Good … Until It Isn’t

Two alarming recent headlines:

• “Why the age issue is hurting Biden so much more than Trump” (New York Times, Feb. 10)
• “Public equally concerned about Biden’s and Trump’s classified documents, new poll finds” (nbcnews.com, Jan. 29)

In politics, public perceptions like these arise because many people magnify events that support their existing views and distort or ignore those that don’t. That’s not the fault of the mainstream news media. But in some cases when perception does not match reality, the media are very much to blame. Read more.

Journalists Can’t Let Horrors on the Job Get to Them

This post about the mental health effects of reporting on awful news stories kept getting delayed in favor of other timely topics because I figured another news peg would be right around the corner. A risky assumption it was not. Thursday, five journalists witnessed the state-administered suffocation death of an Alabama Death Row prisoner.

Few reporters go a career without having to report on a horrific event, such as a war, a mass shooting or even a violent crime with a single victim. According to the Columbia Journalism School’s Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, the psychological toll of seeing and hearing about the heinousness that people are capable of can include sleeplessness, unwelcomed recurring thoughts of the violence, a sense of impending doom and anger. Read more.

Lifelong Journalist and BirminghamWatch Founder Carol Nunnelley Dies

Carol Nunnelley, founding executive director of the Alabama Initiative for Independent Journalism, died Dec. 3 after a long illness.

Her more than 50-year career as a journalist led to many important initiatives, both locally and nationally.

Nunnelley began her career as a reporter at The Birmingham News in 1966, when women were still something of an oddity in newsrooms. Read more.