As the investigation into Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard rolls on, Bill Britt, editor of Alabama Political Reporter seems to think it’s time for him to start preparing for life behind bars. And he also says the state’s media needs to pay more attention to a corruption investigation he believes may be the biggest in Alabama history.

Britt’s July 7 column, entitled “So, You’re Going to Prison?” offers Hubbard and fellow Rep. Barry Moore some safety tips via a book by William Mulholland, who himself spent 21 years behind bars. Mulholland’s book — “Prison Etiquette” — offers helpful hints for those who don’t want to get shanked.

As Moore has already been arrested in the probe and faces a stiff prison sentence if convicted, such tips as not walking across a freshly mopped floor, walking the right way down halls or remembering to say “excuse me” after bumping into someone might come in handy.

Britt suggests in his column that Moore and Hubbard may not be cut out for prison life.

“Men like Moore and Hubbard have led soft lives of privilege and they are not conditioned to endure the strict code of conduct that rules the dark world of the state prison system,” he wrote.

Asked about why he feels they need this advice, Britt said it’s the time he’s spent covering this story.

“For almost two years, I have led an investigation here at APR into possible criminal activities perpetrated by Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard and his associates. APR has published over 60 articles chronicling what we believe may be illegal activities involving embezzlement, bribery and use of public office for personal gain,” he wrote via email. “The investigation into possible criminal wrongdoing by Hubbard has already led to the conviction of disgraced former State Rep. Greg Wren, R-Montgomery and the arrest of Rep. Barry Moore, R-Enterprise, who is facing serious jail time if convicted on four felony counts of making false statements to a grand jury and perjury. Speaker Hubbard has been named in both indictments, which leads me to believe we have been right all along in our investigation.”

Further, Britt said Lee County Circuit Court Judge Jacob Walker III recently revealed in a court filing that Hubbard is central in a Lee County public corruption investigation.

“While our legal system is certainly imperfect and far too many times weighted toward the wealthy and well-connected, I still believe that in this situation justice will prevail,” Britt says.

As for how Alabama media in general are handling these stories, Britt hasn’t been too impressed.

“It has been disappointing to see how some of the larger media outlets have handled the coverage of the investigation into Hubbard and his associates. 

“We have spent months compiling exhaustive state records to document possible public corruption, only to see our work copied almost verbatim without so much as a cursory mention of who did the research. While I am happy to see the information being published it is disturbing to see how some in the media have allowed Hubbard and his attorneys to spin the facts without asking the most basic follow-up questions.

“But, for the most part, the media has not paid a great deal of attention to public corruption since the Republicans took control of state government in 2010.

“At this point, I think most in the media are playing catch-up. I have been investigating this story for almost two years so there is a learning curve and I think everyone will get there eventually.”

As for whether Britt received any feedback from either Hubbard or Moore in regards to his prison advice, he said they stopped talking to him two years ago.

“Our organization has been threatened, we have lost advertisers and there have been numerous times that Hubbard and his allies have tried to have our Statehouse press credentials revoked. So, no Hubbard and Moore do not make comments to us. I have been told that they say plenty about us, but I don’t think it is fit for publication. The one thing they have never done in public is deny the facts that APR has reported,” Britt said.

APR’s reporting can be checked out at http://www.alreporter.com.

USA changes radio partner

Jaguar football, baseball and basketball will be called on a different part of the radio dial it was announced Monday, and that will also mean a change behind the microphone for the first time in 35 years.

According to USA’s athletics department, Lite Mix 99.9 (WMXC-FM) will be carrying Jags football on Saturdays for the next three years, while USA’s men’s basketball and baseball games and all coaches’ shows will run on NewsRadio 710 (WNTM-AM).

This brings an end to a 20-year relationship between WNSP, 105.5-FM, and a 35-year relationship between Lee Shirvanian as the play-by-play man for Jags basketball and baseball. He has also handled the first five years of Jags football. Rick Cleveland who handled color commentary for football also will not return.

J.D. Byars will take on play-by-play for football, while Pat Greenwood will handle color commentary. Both were recently hired by the school when it formed Jaguar Sports Properties. Michael Brannon will work sidelines for the broadcasts as well, it was announced.

The school hasn’t yet announced which announcer will handle baseball and basketball broadcasts.

The change gives Jaguar football broadcasts a greater reach, as the station carries a 100,000-watt signal.

“This partnership is a natural for us. Many of the great people who work here at Clear Channel Mobile are USA alumni and fans, and we’re all excited to bring the games to Jag Nation and our Gulf Coast community,” Dan Mason, Program Director of Lite Mix 99.9 and NewsRadio 710 WNTM, said in a press release.  

On the other side of the equation, WNSP is left trying to fill programming time it has counted on for two decades. Director of Operations and programming, Tim Camp, said the change was unexpected given the years USA had worked with the station.

“Because there had been no negotiations, after 20 years it feels like we’ve been blindsided,” Camp said.

He hopes to soon have announcements about how they will fill the programming time.

Headline hell explained

Last week I wrote about a headline on al.com that had raised the ire of many for its insensitivity.

The headline read, “Guntersville men faces (sic) charges of rape, sodomy after assaulting, then — literally — ditching intoxicated girl.”

A few things about the headline led me to believe it probably was designed as “clickbait” that would attract online hits, but an apology issued by the writer after we went to press suggests it was more mistake than maliciousness. We included the apology online over this past week, but thought it would only be fair to include it in this issue.

The following was written by Kay Campbell, an al.com reporter, and appeared on the Bewildered in Alabama Facebook page, which deals with all things Press-Register and al.com:

“Hello all: I am the reporter who wrote the headline that has been so, I’m afraid, fairly maligned. As a writer, I have no excuse for not hearing how that headline would be received — but what I hope everyone understands (but I’m not sure how, now that I hear how others perceive it) — is that I wrote the headline, actually, out of anger at the situation (I was also trying not to use too many words in the headline — which is a technical consideration, but it figured into how I attempted to compress the information).

“Treating a person of any age, but somehow particularly a teenager, with such extreme disrespect and cruelty just burned me up — and the last thing I meant to do was to write a headline that could in any way increase that cruelty, rather than become part of the chorus of outrage that would seek to protect her. Please forgive me. I don’t like to learn lessons that may have cost anyone else pain (and I hope this is not the case for her in this situation — perhaps she, too, will see that I join her in a deep sense of anger over this), but I am always trying to be both a better writer and reporter — and, for that matter, a better person.

“Sincerely, Kay Campbell, reporter for Alabama Media Group from The Huntsville Times. P.S. Feel free to castigate me even more thoroughly and personally directly at KCampbell@AL.com, if need be.”