All Jesse Chambers wants to do is write and write and write. This is a man who, at the age of 50, decided the written word was his true calling, and he is not to be distracted—except for when he became editor of Birmingham Weekly three and a half months ago… reluctantly.
Jesse knew that he was the only one who could step in and provide the necessary skills the paper needed in a very difficult time. His natural talent and a refusal to accept less than the best he can give, qualities that make Jesse an excellent writer, are the same things that made him a top-notch editor. He has worked tireless hours and, as regular readers of the paper know, it shows.
The editor’s job was temporary. We knew that when he took it. It’s with mixed emotions that I announce that Jesse is stepping down after such a short, albeit successful, stint as our editor, yet I am encouraged that he will pursue his muse while continuing to write for this publication.
Currently, our world is besieged with some of the greatest environmental challenges mankind has yet to face. We need look no further than the Gulf to understand that our reliance on oil has brought us to the brink of catastrophe, both economic and environmental. In these dark times, it is comforting to know that Jesse, along with staff writer Madison Underwood, will continue to cover these events with his dogged work ethic and considerable talent in Birmingham Weekly’s Green Space section, which he created in April 2009.
So now what? Weeklies like ours became successful in the first place by providing communities with news, lifestyle information and a free-flowing discussion of local issues, all while being easily accessible in lots of places and available to the public free of charge. In many ways, New Media—a term that is often bandied about when describing online and wireless technology as an alternative to traditional media—is the future of this type of format.
With that in mind, we welcome Sam George as the new managing editor of Birmingham Weekly. Sam has spent considerable time working with various Birmingham-related online projects, including BHAM.FM, r3vrb.com and The Terminal.
Through those projects he became heavily involved in covering events in Birmingham, which—combined with his knowledge of online technology—made him the logical choice to guide the Weekly though this transition. For the last three months, Sam has worked with some of the most talented web designers in the alternative weekly industry to prepare a new website for Birmingham Weekly, one which exists in a different sphere of excellence than the current site. The Birmingham community at large will be able to experience the new site when we unveil it on Thursday along with the release of the latest issue. We believe that the combination of a free weekly paper integrated with a vibrant website is a viable model for delivering news and information to the community.
Building communities is what we are all about, and the new integrated site greatly increases Birmingham Weekly’s ability to help further that goal. In the print newspaper, readers can continue to take a longer look at the week ahead and peruse their favorite columns. Online, users can get the most current information through the innovative use of social media to stream events and announcements, a comprehensive city directory and event calendar and the ability to navigate easily around the site for concise local information. There will also be dedicated sections for local bands and locally created blogs, as well as a wealth of locally produced media content. Users will be able to register for the site and contribute their own event listings and other content, with the goal of making the Birmingham Weekly site a truly collaborative destination for local information and coverage.
We all know that death and taxes are certain. Well, change is inevitable, too. We hope the changes we have made will be to your liking, and we will continue to work toward making this paper and this city something we can all be proud of.
Chuck Leishman is the publisher of Birmingham Weekly. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.