What’re you Gawking at?

Conservative local writer Quin Hillyer has thrown a few bombs in the culture war lately, and as a result had a few lobbed back in his lap.

On Monday, Hillyer’s latest column for the National Review was held up for ridicule in the blogsite Gawker, which titled their take on his writings “Angry White Man Demands Right to Call Lena Dunham a ‘Slut.’”

Hillyer’s original “Left Offended,” was a call for conservative Americans not to allow “leftists” to take away the use of perfectly acceptable words because some may be offended.

“We on the right must show that we need not cower; we can and must fight back,” he wrote.

In defending speech, Hillyer said actress Lena Dunham’s character on the show “Girls” could accurately be called a slut. He also defended the word niggardly — a word that’s use brought a Washington, D.C. City Council meeting to a screeching halt several years ago.

If it sounds like Hillyer was trying to get someone’s goat, he says he was.

“I got the reaction I knew I would get. I deliberately started out provocatively in the first couple of paragraphs,” he said.

Late last year Hillyer was targeted by New York magazine writer Jonathan Chait for another column in which Chait compared Hillyer’s description of what he considers President Obama’s arrogant attitude to the slave master in the movie “12 Years a Slave.”

Hillyer says such attacks are simply efforts to demonize words such as “arrogant” and “bossy” as being somehow racist code or anti-feminist. He says efforts to banish such words to the trash bin of the English lexicon are what he’s fighting.

And while being ridiculed in Gawker or New York may be an expected result, Hillyer says he hopes readers will give him a fair shake before making up their minds based upon what others say about his writing.

“I hope everybody actually reads the column and the links embedded within rather than relying on Gawker,” he said.

Journalists win awards for health coverage

Two local journalists were recognized last month for their coverage of health issues in the area.

The Medical Association of the State of Alabama honored WKRG’s Peter Albrecht and former Press-Register reporter Casandra Butler Andrews at their annual conference May 23.

Andrews was the recipient of the William H. McDonald Print Journalism Award in recognition of her outstanding efforts in the field of print journalism. From 2008 – 2012 she exposed issues involving lead found in Mardi Gras beads made in China and shipped by the millions to Mobile for the city’s annual celebration. The reporting prompted local health officials to examine the issue then issue health warnings about possible risks to young children.

In addition to her 20 years working for the Press-Register, Andrews is a contributing writer for Lagniappe. She was the P-R’s health reporter for the last four years she was there, and in 2012 she transitioned to the public health sector, going to work for the Mobile County Health Department.

Albrecht was awarded the Douglas L. Cannon Broadcast Journalism Award. The WKRG anchor and reporter earned the honor for a series investigating whether tar balls washing ashore after the BP oil spill in 2010 caused an increase threat to public health.

The series ran over three days in 2013, and Albrecht shared the award with photographers Arnell Hamilton, Brad Gunter and Gary Arnold.

Congratulations to all on their recognition.

B-ham News building sale price

Much like their kissing cousins in Mobile, the Birmingham News staff is moving out of their fancy new downtown digs and into more modest surroundings.

The 120,000 sq. ft. building in the Magic City’s Central Business District built in 2006 is on the market for $21.4 million according to a sales flier by Cushman & Wakefield.

Amenities include a four-story atrium, walking-distance access to banking, restaurants and the YMCA, nearby interstate access, a prominent location and a full-service cafeteria on the first floor. It is available immediately.

In Mobile, efforts to sell the Press-Register’s building on Water Street seemed to be gliding along smoothly for a while, with Bishop State Community College the likely buyer. However, there’s been no more news as to whether the deal has ever been consummated.

Meanwhile the Press-Register/al.com employees await completion of their new facility in the historic Kress Building in downtown Mobile.