Mourning the loss of the two newspaper town
Leada Gore, Editor
It was an easy story to miss if you don't live in some parts of Alabama, but the Birmingham Post-Herald closed its doors last week. The once powerful newspaper had been whittled down to a shell of its former self and owners felt it was best to stop the presses once and for all. With its closure, the state's largest city becomes another on a list of one newspaper towns.
I heard about the closure last Friday and shortly after reading the newspaper article, my dad called. My dad is a newspaper person's dream. He typically reads one or two a day and still prefers his news to come in black and white instead of via the internet.
"The Post-Herald closed," he said. "I hate it. I really liked their crossword the best."
When I was growing up in Birmingham, I remember having the Post-Herald and the Birmingham News around the house. What newspaper we read was dictated by what they covered that day, especially if it was a good Alabama football game.
It wasn't until I was much older that I learned about the complicated agreement between the two daily newspapers. The Post-Herald used the News' advertising, production and printing staffs and facilities but remained independent for news coverage. The two newspapers teamed up on Saturday for a joint publication but the News went it alone on Sunday. The agreement prompted the Post to switch to an afternoon newspaper several years ago, handing over the more-popular morning slot to the News.
Even then, naysayers said the Post wouldn't last long.
The news of the Post's closure saddened me. I know some of the good people who have passed through that newsroom and can only imagine how they felt when they learned the news.
And it made me think of Milton "Skillet" Bird, too. Skillet was a columnist at a newspaper where I once worked. He was in his 90s then and his column didn't deal with much more than how the tomatoes were growing or how pretty the new high school cheerleaders were. But, in his earlier career, Skillet had written a column for the Birmingham Age Herald, a publication that later merged with the Post. Skillet would always ask me if I had seen the latest copy of the Age Herald, not worrying that the name had not been used in 50 years or more. He was proud of his time at the big newspaper and loved the people he worked with there.
Change is hard. I'm one of those people who like things to remain the way I remember them. I hate to see old houses torn down or new roads bulldozed through scenic pastures. And I hate that the Post-Herald closed, too, though I'm sure as Skillet – who died in 2002 – looks down, he's still proud of his time at that old Age Herald.