Job changes at AMG

Former Press-Register executive editor Mike Marshall has changed positions with the Press-Register/al.com. Marshall has served as director of statewide commentary. Recently former P-R Business Editor K.A. Turner was placed in that position. Turner had been serving as director of state news for Alabama Media Group.

Marshall’s change involves still working in the opinion arena for al.com

“In my new gig I am still involved in organizing and editing statewide op-ed material, and I remain on the Mobile (editorial) board. Also plan to write about coastal Alabama topics,” Marshall wrote of the change.

Marshall was executive editor of the Press-Register from 1999 – 2012. He is also currently serving a second term as president of the Alabama Press Association.

Currently AMG is advertising for Turner’s replacement as director of state news.

AMG also recently announced the hiring of Roy S. Johnson as director of sports for the company’s al.com website and its three in-state newspapers. Johnson has served roles at Sports Illustrated, Men’s Fitness and History Channel magazine, as well as founding Savoy.

He has a deep background in digital journalism.

Michelle Holmes, vice president of content for Alabama Media Group, lauded Johnson’s experience in a press release announcing his hiring.

“Roy knows sports, he knows journalism, he knows content, he holds great respect for the value of print publications, and he knows what digital is about and has embraced it as the journalist’s most effective means of engaging readers, especially sports fans. That’s an amazing mix. We are thrilled to have Roy joining us,” she wrote.

Digital mess?

As newspapers deal with the digital age, the folks at the Poynter Institute say it’s getting harder and harder to determine exactly what the numbers coming out of various publications mean.

Sam Kirkland, writing for Poynter May 5, says both traditional circulation figures and digital circulation figures are hard to put your finger on because of the way they’re being reported. In the case of print circulation, the inclusion of “branded editions” in newspaper circulations appear to be propping up what otherwise would be falling numbers.

Locally we’ve seen that as the Press-Register’s numbers reported by the Alliance for Audited Media six months ago included more than 30,000 branded editions and 5,000 digital replicas in their total circulation, allowing them to claim a Sunday circulation of more than 113,000 papers. The latest AAM Snapshot numbers put that Sunday total at 111,000, still including the branded editions.

“We’ve written quite a bit at Poynter about how newspaper circulation numbers are basically meaningless now,” Kirkland pointed out.

But in looking at digital, or online, numbers, Kirkland is finding some of the same kinds of issues. He spent time looking at numbers coming out of AAM’s “digital nonreplica” category because he said it would reflect mobile app use and paywall subscribers, which have been two major growth areas for newspapers trying to fight against what they’re losing in print.

In the end Kirkland found even comparing newspapers by digital numbers can be frustrating because, “only apps, paywalled websites, PDF print replicas and e-reader editions count in circulation figures (visits to free websites don’t),” he wrote. “Moreover, newspapers can pick and choose which digital categories to report.”

He pointed out that readers can be double-, triple- or quadruple-counted if they are print subscribers and use the paper’s digital products as well.

“Alternatively, these numbers really could mean digital circulation has plateaued for some newspapers. But it’s hard to tell, especially because newspapers continue to write press releases disguised as news stories whenever the numbers are released rather than providing meaningful context,” he wrote.

The moral of the story, he added, is that the digital numbers being offered by the newspaper industry are not particularly helpful in determining how many people are actually reading.

MCPSS TV

The Mobile County Public School System recently began broadcasting to AT&T U-verse and Comcast cable customers 24 hours a day, stepping up a program it had been offering for the previous six months.

“This is all in an effort of the MCPSS to be transparent in everything we do, but also to communicate directly with all the homes of our students, parents, guardians and all of our stakeholders,” Superintendent Martha Peek said. “Communication starts with us.”

Because the two service providers partnered with the school system, the round-the-clock broadcasting won’t cost anything. MCPSS has a television studio on its campus in West Mobile, which is operated by a small staff with experience in professional broadcasting.

Sports will make up a good part of the content, as they system plans to broadcast a live football game each week and show recordings of other games throughout the week.

Basketball is also in the works, and other sports will follow.

MCPSS will now have the ability to broadcast live events such as board meetings, weather announcements, graduations and school performances on its TV platform. There are already a number of shows airing, including: “Homeroom,” a program hosted by MCPSS head of public relations Nancy Pierce; “Cooking with Class,” hosted by Children Nutrition Director Suzanne Yates and “MCPSS Athletics,” hosted by Athletic Director Calvin Crist. 

“On the Move,” another program produced and hosted by student journalists, will be shown the MCPSS channels as well. A number of schools are also already producing morning news and announcements for play throughout the building, and it’s hoped some of those shows will be able to develop content for the channel.

Additionally the channel will offer some third-party content produced by groups like NASA, EnviroPals and PBS.

U-verse users in Mobile County can get MCPSS content on channel 99, and Comcast users can tune in to channel 15.

Jason Johnson provided reporting for the MCPSS item