One of the best known and last remaining Press-Register columns has been shut down by management, we’re told.
Insiders tell me food writer David Holloway has been told to put down his fork and pick up a keyboard as his “Daily Dish” column was canceled by management. Holloway has been moved into a position “curating” or editing copy for the printed version of the paper along with former managing editor Dewey English, I’m told.
Despite the recent layoffs and resignations that have resulted in more than 20 editorial staffers leaving the Press-Register since the beginning of this year, many are still surprised to see Holloway’s popular food column make it to the cutting board.
Holloway’s tenure at the P-R spans decades, and his food column has been a staple for many years. His search for Alabama’s best hamburger is one of his best-known recurring features. The man has probably judged every food contest this side of the Dolly Parton Bridge at least 10 times.
No word yet on how or if the P-R intends to handle cuisine coverage. I’ll let you know when I hear more.
Raines headed back
With all the departures, a bright spot for the P-R in the personnel department is the return of award-winning environmental reporter Ben Raines.
Raines confirmed he is leaving his position as executive director of the Weeks Bay Foundation to pick up where he left off at the P-R, doing investigative and feature reporting related to environmental issues.
Raines left the paper a couple of years ago to head up the Weeks Bay Foundation, but kept a foot in the journalism world, producing some very well received pieces, including his multi-part series on the Mobile-Tensaw Delta entitled “America’s Amazon.”
His return was announced to employees Tuesday by Alabama Media Group Vice President of Content Michelle Holmes, who sent an email touting the good news for the Public Interest and Advocacy team. He is slated to start work next week.
Rough and tumble in Dothan
A TV reporter in Dothan was hit by a city commissioner last week after following the man to his car to ask questions about voter fraud convictions associated with this campaign.
WTVY senior reporter Ken Curtis was struck twice on the cheek by City Commissioner Amos Newsome after the commission meeting Oct. 6. Curtis had asked Newsome questions about possibly resigning in the wake of voter fraud convictions associated with his 2013 re-election. Newsome struck Curtis with his hand, held like a claw, causing the reporter to bleed from the cheek.
Newsome won re-election by capturing 119 of 124 absentee ballots cast, which ended up giving him a 13-vote margin in the overall tally. Two people were arrested and convicted of felony voter fraud in connection with the case and another pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges, while a fourth still faces charges.
As of last week, WTVY’s management said it intends to file assault charges against the commissioner.
Last week New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet announced the “Grey Lady” had passed 1 million digital-only subscribers, “far more than any other news organization in the world.” Combined with the 1.1 million print-and-digital subscribers, Baquet said the newspaper now has more subscribers than at any time in its 164-year history.
So why is that a big deal? I suppose it says a lot about the The New York Times’ ability to continue to attract subscribers at a time when most dailies are still bleeding readership and cutting staffs. In his article, Baquet claims the paper still has the same number of staffers it did 15 years ago before the great newspaper decline began, and that they continue to put effort into strong content with the knowledge it is what keeps readers coming back.
While a lot of newspapers are probably too far down the road in terms of cutting staff and selling out to aggregating stories from other sources, maybe The Times’ successes are a good sign for those who continue to put content first. Now Baquet didn’t say anything about the paper making money, and its 2014 financials still have revenue declining slightly.
The big question that remains is can The Times’ success in attracting online readers eventually translate into making the money necessary to run a large newspaper. Online advertising still has a way to go to meet that challenge. But if The Times can eventually figure out how to make that happen, it would be good for the industry as a whole.