Issues & Ales: the Future of Journalism

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What’s the Future of Journalism? You can bet it includes Issues & Ales

On Thursday, October 4, WBHM hosted an Issues & Ales event at Cantina at Pepper Place to discuss recent changes in the local media landscape.

  1. It started with a very simple concept: “The only constant in life is change.” And that’s certainly true of the news media in Birmingham and around the nation. The rapid changes not only in print journalism, but in technology, social media and other mediums have a lot of people wondering: “What is the future of media and journalism in North Central Alabama?
    - How will the move to a three day-a-week print publication at The Birmingham News change journalism in the metro area? 
    - Who’s making money and how are they doing it with online journalism? 
    - Why should you care? 

  2. A standing-room-only crowd gathered to reflect on the past, dissect the present and discuss the future. The following is just a snapshot of what was a very lively discussion. 
  3. Packed house here at Cantina for #WBHM Issues & Ales: The Future of Journalism. #bham
    Packed house here at Cantina for #WBHM Issues & Ales: The Future of Journalism. #bham
  4. I'm with my MC493 class at #WBHM Issues and Ales. Great crowd to talk about the future of #Bham journalism.
    I’m with my MC493 class at #WBHM Issues and Ales. Great crowd to talk about the future of #Bham journalism. QYOpE2Juy9/
  5. @RickJourney what a great class trip. Wish I could bring my UA kids here! #WBHM
  6. Informed voters are sexy. And now you will know it. Swag at #WBHM event.  @ Cantina
    Informed voters are sexy. And now you will know it. Swag at #WBHM event. @ Cantina QYPXaHv4oP/
  7. With food and drinks in hand (it is an Ales event, afterall!), WBHM General Manager Scott Hanley (@sehanley) welcomes the crowd and the discussion began… 
  8. Ready to hear some great ops on the future of central Ala. journalism @ Issues & Ales at Cantina #WBHM #journalism
  9. #wbhm the smart phone ratio is probably very high at issues and ales tonight. Wonder how many are not muted ?
  10. Fascinating how many people are tweeting here. These pesky little devices are the future of the journalism industry. #wbhm
  11. Our panelists (from left): Bob Sims, Director of Community News at Alabama Media Group (which now runs the Birmingham News, Huntsville Times, Mobile Press Register and; Vickii Howell, editor-in-chief and producer of Birmingham View Magazine and Television; Andre Natta, publisher and editor of community news site The Terminal; and Kyle Whitmire, local government and politics reporter at the Birmingham News and regular guest journalist on WBHM.  
    The panelists offered some opening thoughts… 
  12. Bob Sims says most emails @ changing Birmingham News are about comics, TV listings, sports scores and things like that. #WBHM
  13. .@acnatta If you look at analytics, more people looking at stories about Beyonce than sewer debt, bond issue, etc. People have power! #wbhm
  14. .@vickiihowell left Bham News w/idea she was going to save the world writing about diverse community in a magazine. Learned about biz #WBHM
  15. She says had to learn to be a photographer, videographer, writer… to be a “content provider” #WBHM
  16. “Words, pictures and sound are important because people are no longer reading as much as they used to” @vickiihowell #wbhm
  17. Adaptation is the name of the game in the new media landscape according to @Vickihowell at #WBHM I&A
  18. Vicki Howell calls herself a “recovering journaliste.” if that’s what we are, this may be a long 12-step program. #WBHM Cc: @ValMWalton
  19. Back in the day you only had 3 networks (ABC, NBC…) and one local newspaper. Today there’s fracturing of the media. Lots of choices #WBHM
  20. “No one has figured out to monetize the markets. Freelance journalists need to be creative & crafty.” @vickiihowell #wbhm
  21. RT @WBHM903: RT @WBHM903: First thing that goes in bad economy is advertising $$. Without revenues nothiWBHMappens. #WBHM
  22. .@acnatta up next — doing contract work as a freelance reporter. Day he was supposed to be hired fulltime newspaper went under #WBHM
  23. Yeah I just WOO’d @acnatta at #WBHM‘s panel on the future of journalism. Because he is.
  24. .@acnatta decided to start telling those untold stories online nearly a decade ago. #hyperlocaljournalism #WBHM
  25. .@acnatta always used to think of himself as a blogger but he’s a journalist now too. Convergence is happening. #WBHM
  26. .@WarOnDumb – local gov’t and politics reporter for Bham News ots of exp in alt weeklies & hyperlocal #WBHMWBHM
  27. .@WarOnDumb decided to become a newspaperman after figuring out planting pine trees and bagging groceries wasn’t the job for him. #WBHM
  28. .@WarOnDumb if you’re interested in money, this isn’t the career for you. Other than that it’s the best job in world. #wbhm
  29. “This experiment w/  cutting our way to profitability w/ layoffs. We’re trying to create new media co” #WBHMWBHM
  30. That sums it up. “@WarOnDumb “I’m not going to end my career as a newspaperman, but I hope to end it as a journalist” #WBHM
  31. .@vickiihowell says the need for content is there, but $ to pay for content is not there…. I sell some stories, but not enough #wbhm
  32. .@vickiihowell does wonder if pay walls (ala NYTimes) a long-term solution? #wbhm
  33. Ask questions for our panel re: the future of media and journalism using the #wbhm hashtag. #bham
  34. How are you going to deal with the unpopularity of  hoping to find success in it as your online format? #WBHMWBHM
  35. Bob Sims answering @see_clair_write‘s question about how to retain quality w/reduction of staff and increased workload in digital? #wbhm
  36. Sims say – may be cliche – but the passion of the journalists. #wbhm
  37. Sims admits probably put stuff in paper that wasn’t very good to feed 7/day week print paper. Now only 3/day can hopefully do better #wbhm
  38. Bob Sims says when something goes wrong in city hall, pple want you to tell them @ it. But how do you keep them interested every day? #wbhm
  39. It was said that young people aren’t the ones who care about the city of #Bham. I humbly disagree. #wbhm
  40. Check my mail if you don’t think people care about city hall. #wbhm
  41. Attendee says concerned that reporters are “reading interest” by who emails or tweets them the most. #wbhm
  42. Attendee says aging father has 5 caregivers who don’t have computers. 7 people in house read one newspaper. They want news! #wbhm
  43. Attendee says not having a daily newspaper (like in Birmingham) disenfranchises a huge chunk of the community. #wbhm
  44. Attendee “Birmingham has a digital divide” #wbhm
  45. Several attendees ask “are you going to buy iPads/computers for people who can’t afford them”? Where do they get news? #wbhm
  46. Access is always an issue, question: “Are you going to buy the audience their iPad or Kindle?” #wbhm event re: the future of journalism.
  47. .@KaraKennedy tweets a fair question re digital media: what about those who have no access to the Internet. #wbhm
  48. .@WarOnDumb really irked about assumption that old people don’t use technology (response to Q about older people who rely on print) #wbhm
  49. @WBHM903 to follow-up on @KaraKennedy what about lack of high speed internet in rural areas. Problem exists. I know firsthand. #wbhm
  50. Q: Most internet content comes from newspapers (assoc press, etc). If newspapers go down, where will content come from? #wbhm
  51. Q: Speak to yesterday’s Bham News print copy. So much changed: font, organization, etc. It was poor. Less, rather than more. #wbhm
  52. MT @WBHM903: Bob Sims :”Not proud of Wed’s paper.” New tech, hard 2 combine 3 papers. “Give us another chance.” #wbhm Much recycled copy.
  53. Robert Carter (North Jefferson News in Gardendale) says we knew the day would come when major newspaper cut back print edition. #wbhm
  54. Carter says Bham News under intense scrutiny – everyone’s watching them to see if “this will blow up”. How does that feel? #wbhm
  55. Glynn Wilson (Locust Fork) asks about info on Newhouse, which controls so much newspaper media. #wbhm
  56. Newspaper industry intensely watching the four Newhouse papers & their print reductions (NOLA, BHM, HSV & Mobile) #wbhm
  57. Q: Will there still be the time to let people do investigative reporting that takes months or even a year?? Sims “that’s the plan” #wbhm
  58. #wbhm 90.3 fm Kyle, it seems an odd time to jump *to* the Bham News. What motivated you to move to what seems arguably a shrinking ship?
  59. Only 3x print/wk. Online AMG dominate bylines. Twitter avatar lost N. How long until Bham News brand dies? #WBHMWBHM
  60. Sims says he doesn’t think Bham News brand will die in his lifetime #wbhm
  61. @WBHM903 Maybe we should stop using term “die.” Many brands stay alive just w/different packaging #change #wbhm
  62. Librarian says: when newspaper stops publishing everyday, are we losing history? What falls through the cracks? #wbhm
  63. .@vickiihowell says internet democratizes info and allows us to see history through multiple lenses #wbhm
  64. .@vickiihowell says newspapers disintegrate too. not worried about losing history. #wbhm
  65. J-school friends who graduated in May don’t brag about Ala. jobs, but do for NYC & DC. How can you make local jobs brag worthy again? #wbhm
  66. @sndethrage pay people a decent salary, give them a strong newsroom & get them on the street. That’s brag-worthy. #wbhm
  67. Question: as newspapers collapse and consolidate, will the voices of those communities go away? #wbhm
  68. .@acnatta “We are still journalists b/c the journal that we are keeping is the journal of the community/city” #wbhm
  69. “Birmingham News is white person’s newspaper” one editor told @vickiihowell. #wbhm
  70. Is this surprising? RT @WBHM903: “Birmingham News is white person’s newspaper” one editor told @vickiihowell. #wbhm
  71. .@WarOnDumb says people are gravitating towards content that reaffirms their world view. #wbhm
  72. Scary but true @WBHM903: .@WarOnDumb says people are gravitating towards content that reaffirms their world view. #wbhm
  73. “Fact checking seeing resurgence. We need to put our foot down and say, not going to let you argue against fact checking” @WarOnDumb #wbhm
  74. What about journalists as story tellers? Does online journalism weaken that role, or does multimedia help to facilitate it? #wbhm
  75. The issue of monetizing online content has been discussed for almost a decade. Does anyone have the answer? #wbhm
  76. Nope. RT @EboniDaScrooge: The issue of monetizing online content has been discussed for almost a decade. Does anyone have the answer? #wbhm
  77. Attendee — the comment section of t your brand’. There’s a lot of covert and overt racism there. #wbhmwbhm
  78. Sims re ters we’re pushing reporters to comment on their own stories. “When adult shows up, mood changes” #wbhmwbhm
  79. @WBHM903 #wbhm make people use their real names and people won’t be as crazy on those comments
  80. Q: Why did @WarOnDumb jump from Weld to Bham News “sinking ship”? #wbhm
  81. .@WarOnDumb excited about opening up to statewide news operation — exciting stuff going on at Bham News wbhm
  82. If people care about Birmingham media, why was there little public outcry when the Birmingham News reduced publishing? #wbhm
  83. Why save print? What’s the point? It shrinks every year while online grows. Are we getting left behind in the media world – again?#wbhm
  84. Quick poll: What % of U.S. newspapers will still be alive as digital pubs the day the last press stops rolling? #wbhm
  85. 0 % RT @griner Quick poll: What % of U.S. newspapers will still be alive as digital pubs the day the last press stops rolling? #wbhm
  86. Thanks for your patience w/ our WBHM tweets on the future of journalism. We’re very passionate about this b’cause we’re locally-owned.
  87. A vibrant community needs strong journalists. If journalism withers, neighborhoods will wither away eventually. #wbhm
  88. #wbhm settling in after an exciting Issues & Ales event on the future of media. eager for radio & digital content to share from it
  89. We’ll be posting full audio from the event soon at  As they say in the (radio) biz: Stay Tuned!