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Birmingham Snooze not biased, just cheap and lazy

By Hunter Ford

Capstone Report founder Alan Atchison led off the Finebaum show on the day after the Super Bowl with a distinctive topic, namely that he believes the Birmingham News is acting as a public relations firm for Auburn athletics.

He had some great points but I believe he stopped way short. When you’re aiming at big game, go ahead and fire both barrels Alan. Atchison said he believes the News uses different standards of coverage when dealing with Auburn athletics, than with the University of Alabama. I’m totally with him on that, and I agreed with what he said on Finebaum in that regard.

But Alan praised “The Snooze” for its general news coverage. He missed the mark completely on that. The Snooze like most other major newspapers has become fat, lazy and cheap. They are missing or ignoring stories because they don’t want to put real time and effort into the true craft of journalism.

Sure, they run plenty of stories about Larry Langford and other politicians who have been convicted of corruption. But reporting on investigations (and their outcomes) is different than investigative reporting.

There are plenty of enterprise stories The Snooze could be working on right now. They could be doing some real legwork on casino gambling in other states, its effect on the economy and its social implications, and the real opinions of the people in Alabama. Instead, the Snooze simply reports on what the governor spews out, what Milton Macgregor regurgitates and what the convoluted courts and the dead head politicians say.

Years ago, I worked in northern Jefferson County for a small community newspaper. I reported on a story that had to deal with whether or not a Ruby Tuesday restaurant would open in the area. A large local church was using its vast influence to try and prevent the chain restaurant from having a liquor license. The local politicians all denied it. I made a simple phone call to corporate headquarters and was told by a representative that yes, indeed, the hold-up for not going ahead with the project was that the local government wanted Ruby Tuesday to either not serve any alcohol or have a restricted license, serving only beer and wine. Corporate headquarters told me they had strict specifications for their restaurants and would not deviate from the model.

This may sound boring, but was connected to another larger issue of whether the church was stifling growth in the area.

The Snooze totally missed the potential story.

The Snooze also missed, or chose to ignore, a huge story about former Hoover High football coach Rush Propst. That is until the story was broken by a reporter from a community weekly paper and blown up on the Paul Finebaum Radio Network. By the way Capstone Report was also heavily involved in the Propst story before The Snooze laid one finger on a keyboard. Check the Capstone archives.

The Snooze then reported on the following major investigations and fallout. The Snooze racked up a couple of awards for its reporting of the investigation. Once again, reporting on investigations is different from investigative reporting.

The great American humorist Will Rogers once said that a man is not completely informed unless he reads at least one “country” newspaper. You can read the New York Times, you can watch ESPN, you can choose any major media outlet you want. But if you are not paying attention to the so-called little guys (community papers or blogs) your perspective will be very narrow, and your understanding of the issues of our time will be severely limited.

15 thoughts on “Birmingham Snooze not biased, just cheap and lazy”

  1. Arrogance rules the day

    Alan got owned on that excuse of a show “Finebaum” Monday by a gentlemen from Nashville. He couldn’t cite one example…..not one besides Goldberg is biased….well, he is the Auburn beat reporter. You see the same “bias” with other beat reporters for other schools too….UGA, Chip Towers, and the AJC for instance.

    Otherwise, thanks for the “mainstream media is lazy” update. A shocker, I must say.

  2. I think what you all are missing here is that mainstream Alabama is the issue. Most people dont’ like to make waves or dig in dirt. The News doesn’t make it a priority to do investigative reporting on a football coaches lifestyle. Why? Because most people don’t care.

    I do think that there is a market for this type of journalism, and it is here where we all can read it and call a spade a spade. But, that type of life is not for most people. Most people would rather ignore things.

    I think the entire reason that this is an issue for you guys and most Alabama fans is that while Auburn is typically given a pass on negative things, Alabama is really hammered. Alabama is the school that is assailed on a regular basis. Quite frankly, it is because Alabama is the great program and Auburn is the underdog. People will crane thier neck to see greatness fall. People expect the underdog to have problems. That’s why The Snooze, great line by the way, reports in a honest way about Alabama and a primrose way on the Barn.

  3. Alex,
    That’s insightful. You may be on to something. About the coaches lifestyle though, refering to Propst, it wasn’t his personal issues that were really the problem but other issues like how much money was paid to his staff, how much money was used for athletics (football) new turf new gym equipment. It was a complex issue the sex part of it ws just, well “the sexy” part that got most people’s attention.

    Anyway those are old bones, The Snooze could be digging up some great new stuff, in my opinion, and in my opinion, they aren’t even trying.



  5. Went to Little Rock on a Sunday a few weeks ago and read the News that morning – took less than 30 minutes to wade through the content and the Ads. I bought the Democrat – Gazette that Sunday evening for 75 cents. That’s right. A Sunday Paper for 75 cents. It took me 2 hours to read the enormous content the Paper had. Outstanding Read for 75 cents.
    Why can’t it be done here ? The answer is that the News decline has been so gradual that this is what is left. A Ghost of what it used to be.
    I am sure that many of you that travel and buy Papers understand where I’m coming from.
    It is a Bad Product . It is dying just like the Post …..

  6. I tend to buy newspapers everywhere I go. Old habit from actually being in the business.

    In my opinion, I think newspapers were best during the 1940s and 1950s. Look through the old volumes and you’ll see very impressive papers filled with important local, national and international information. I just don’t think the present day newspaper delivers people the same type of experience. Some of that I blame on the professionalization of the newspaper.

  7. What we are looking at here is the Funeral for something that was part of our lives and something we valued as necessary and shit – edifying – some how – they will have to transition to a Web Based Subscription – I would welcome the conversation Cappy about how it will look like and whether it will practicable and make money….
    Got some ideas –

  8. I’m intrigued with FREE news weeklies, or even possibly FREE print dailies. It would preserve the ability to deliver ROP and preprint advertising along with classifieds. Free would also eliminate issues like the COST of selling and maintaining subscriptions, etc. Delivery would remain a problem. You’d have to put out tons of FREE boxes and deliver them to many homes. This expense would need to be funded by increased circulation so you could have higher ad dollars. Of course this might be a better model for London or New York than the more rural/suburban Birmingham market.

    As for digital delivery, I’m not sure you’ll be able to sustain a pay model for newspapers these days. As long as TV stations are FREE with some substantial content then why pay for something like People will always prefer the Cheaper option unless there is a true premium benefit.

    That premium benefit is found in something like the Financial Times ($8.25 per month)or WSJ. Also recruiting sites are a similar type of highly specialized/niche market. These work well.

    As an aside, just think of the goldmine that newspapers pissed away by refusing to cover recruiting! They had the infrastructure, the expertise and market domination to own the world of recruiting coverage. But reporters looked down on recruiting for so many years and BOOM—today Rivals and Scout make buckets of money.

    But back to digital delivery. I’m skeptical as to how this will work. The Sporting News free daily available by email is OK, but I hardly ever open the email and read it. And it is delivered to my email. Why is that? Much of the time I look for things specifically via routine surfing or GOOGLE. The truth is that if it isn’t in Google then it isn’t going to be found by the vast majority of readers.

    What are your thoughts?

  9. I think newspapers will evolve into news organization, the key word in newspaper is not paper, but NEWS.

    I believe that it the printed versions will be around for the rest of our lifetime, although I see a time soon where there will very few printed.

    i wonder how magazines like Newswek are doing? I used to have subscriptions to Time, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated.

    Also Rolling Stone. Most great investigative journalism I’ve ever read came from sources like that.

    If you’re in a doctor’s office or other waiting room you can still pick up a magazine like those, even if they are months, even year or two old, and get some interesting reads. They ysually keep up with technology, science, politics and other things and do so in the form I like.

    By the way my grandfather had a longtime subscription to National Geographic which he kept library style in large book shelves. I still love pulling old issues and poring over them.

    (Not just for the natives either I REALLY READ the articles) HA HA

  10. we have subscribed to news for 30 years and have written sports editor several times over the last year about coverage differences in UA and AU. they are totally unconcerned–sports editor did not give courteousy of a response until we spoke to news editor and relayed that. i sincerely believe there is an agenda there ( pro AU ) with any coverage given to Alabama being put in a most negative light. we are cancelling subscription after years and told them we get all our Bama info(and great articles I might add) from Mobile Press Regiter online. when we visit out condo every summer in August i am amazed at all the great practice info we get from the Mobile paper. we will no longer support this useless, biased,local birmingham rag.

  11. Gee, Hunter, what about all those times you applied for a job at The Birmingham News, but didn’t make the cut. Could that be the source of your disdain?

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