HANCEVILLE, ALA. – More than almost any other industry, the newspaper business has experienced drastic change and transition within the last 10 years. The Birmingham News and AL.com columnist John Archibald has witnessed all of it firsthand.
Archibald, who has been with The Birmingham News since 1986, will share his insight on the way the newspaper industry has changed and how he finds inspiration to be a successful columnist, among other things, when he visits Wallace State on Tuesday, April 8 at 9:30 a.m., as part of the college’s Arts in April author forum. The event, set for the Burrow Center Recital Hall, is free and open to the community.
“The last decade or so has been amazing. It’s really hard to look back and comprehend just how different things are now than they were 10 years ago. The interesting thing is not only the speed of how we have to relay information, but how fast we receive it,” Archibald said this week during a phone interview. “It moves as fast as we can receive information on our phone. We’re all still trying to figure it out, but the bottom line is to do what you do. Maybe we have to do it faster with less oversight sometimes, but the mission is the same. I still try to give the reader something to think about that they don’t already know.”
Upon graduating from the University of Alabama in 1986, Archibald joined The Birmingham News as a correspondent, covering the Cullman and Walker County beats. A little more than a year later, Archibald then started covering the Birmingham city beat and assumed that role until becoming the paper’s lead columnist in 2004.
One of the significant changes in the newspaper industry in this state occurred in 2012 when The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times and the Press-Register (Mobile), the three largest circulated papers in the state, converged into the Alabama Media Group and started sharing content and information on AL.com. All three papers also began publishing the print edition only three days a week, on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Archibald now writes columns three days a week for the print edition, but churns out additional columns on AL.com. He is also a special weekly guest on WBHM, the Birmingham NPR station.
A successful newspaper columnist has to possess a unique style and opinion and be willing to cover a variety of topics. Archibald fits that mold, using a witty style to write about relevant issues affecting Birmingham and the state as a whole. His most recent columns have ranged from appreciating the local music scene in Birmingham, to the beauty and prestige of Red Mountain Park to questioning whether the Birmingham mayor and city council needed to travel all the way to the beach for a joint session.
“A lot of what I write about depends on what’s going on, whether it’s state politics, trying to find who’s behind a Twitter parody account or just trying to tell a good story,” Archibald said. “Despite the changes that have been made throughout the years, I still want to help those who don’t have a voice by telling a good story. I hope a lot of good can always come out of it. The old journalism adage still holds true about afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted.”
Wallace State’s English Department and the Sigma Kappa Delta Honor Society are sponsoring Archibald’s visit to campus.
“In the past the English Department has sponsored speakers who were poets, fiction authors, storytellers and a playwright. My first degree is in journalism, so I felt we were missing an important genre of writing, nonfiction,” said Wallace State’s Donna Speeker, an English and Spanish Instructor. “John Archibald writes about current events in such an entertaining way, he seemed like a perfect fit.”
Wallace State has a plethora of events planned for Arts in April and all the activities can be accessed at wallacestate.edu/artsinapril.
For more information about Wallace State, visit wallacestate.edu.
Wallace State Community College
P.O. Box 2000, Hanceville, AL 35077
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Visit us online at www.wallacestate.edu
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Wallace State Community College
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