The News doesn’t want to be the news

John Archibald believes “You have a right to know about News buyouts.”

The Birmingham News disagrees.

The Birmingham News is dying. They just don’t want you to know about it. So, the venerable (and pro-Auburn) newspaper buried the latest revelation about its decline; it suppressed a John Archibald column on the newspaper’s buyouts.

The column leaked on Facebook and Media of Birmingham. No doubt to the chagrin of the newspaper leadership—who is more interested in dollars than sense. It is what happens when you put an accountant into the role of publisher; they take penny pinching to new levels. Levels that make characters like Jack Benny or Scrooge McDuck seem reasonable. It is parsimony run amok.

For the amateur publisher here is a clue: a newspaper must have content, and writers produce content. And here is a bonus: content isn’t that pabulum of pro-Auburn stuff you spew from the sports page. Content is the superb reporting like the Birmingham News produced with Brett J. Blackledge; this was the reporting that exposed corruption in Alabama’s two-year college system.

The best publishers come from the editorial side. These publishers can balance the bottom line with the headlines; they can maximize revenue while maintaining editorial integrity.

But the News today is more interested in hiding the truth than reporting it. If the Birmingham News suppresses Archibald, how can we trust its reporting to be accurate?

We can’t.

We shouldn’t.

If you aren’t already reading the Tuscaloosa News online for sports coverage and the Wall Street Journal for national, economic and political news then you really should. For local news, just watch television. There isn’t much depth there, but there isn’t much depth on the pages of the Birmingham News either.