Category: BirminghamWatch

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Police Believe They’ve Found Body of Kamille “Cupcake” McKinney (WBHM)

Governor’s Panel Tours Aging, Understaffed Prison
(Associated Press)
Birmingham Water Works Board Member’s Corruption Trial Begins (
Recycling Costs Soar as Metro Birmingham’s Top Processing Facility Raises Rates (ABC 33/40)

O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB Names New Leader
(Birmingham Business Journal)

Legendary Birmingham Sports Promoter Art Clarkson Dies

Art Clarkson, who ran two of Birmingham’s best-known minor league sports teams among many other ventures, has died at age 78, just months after retiring from his last sports management job.

Clarkson has had a hand in management of numerous sports operations across the country, but he is best known locally as the man who brought the Barons baseball team back to Rickwood Field and who ran the Birmingham Bulls hockey franchise in two different incarnations. Read more.

The New York Times Keeps Making People Mad

It must be frustrating for The New York Times to do such exceptional journalism (for instance, here and here) and then to get beaten up mercilessly on social media because of its handling of a routine story. It’s a reminder that, of course, there’s really no such thing as a routine story, especially if you live in the middle of a political maelstrom, as the Times does every day.

The Times is catching some heat for its headlining and framing of a Wednesday story about contact between the Ukraine whistleblower and Congressman Adam Schiff. Some supporters of President Trump, who likely would have done this no matter how the story was presented, are distorting the article as evidence of collusion between the whistleblower and Schiff.

This unfairness aside, there’s no question the Times is having a real bad run lately. It has gotten justified public criticism for several things.
Read more.

Bring It On: Journalists’ Tweets, Even Old Ones, Are Fair Game

The recent news that political supporters of President Trump have been searching social media channels for offensive posts by journalists who work for certain national media brought understandable alarm and companion rhetoric from the targeted organizations. Media objections that such dirt digging intends to punish and discourage aggressive reporting are correct, but the better response would have been: “Have at it, and let us know if you find anything.” Read more.

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.