By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter
So, here I am.
Unless I’ve failed to remember correctly, this will be the first column written that I’ve written in at least 15 years that won’t appear in The Montgomery Advertiser. I am surprisingly happy about that.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredibly weird to be out of the newspaper world, but I also feel pretty good about where I’ve landed.
I think The Alabama Political Reporter is a fantastic news outlet that has quickly climbed the media ladder in this State. If you doubt that, flip on talk radio and listen to the babbling heads criticize APR while simultaneously ripping off the website for material and news.
The reason for that rapid ascent is the work ethic of Bill and Susan Britt.
If you ever have any doubt about the difference between a successful news organization and an unsuccessful one, look at the work ethic of the people in charge.
If the bosses are out beating bushes, working sources, talking on the phone at all hours of the day and night, listening to the insane ramblings of conspiracy theorists because there might be one nugget of news buried deep inside that conversation, you can pretty well bet that the outfit they’re running is also filled with similarly-motivated people.
I have no doubt that’s true with the Britts, because I’ve seen them – at press conferences and events, talking with sources, roaming the halls of the State House.
So, I think I’ll fit in well.
On top of that, the structure of APR is one that’s appealing to me. There’s no office, no supervisor looking over my shoulder and no meddling editor telling me that we need to hold stories because they might irritate an advertiser.
In our initial conversation about this job, Bill Britt said: “We want you to be yourself. We don’t want to put a muzzle on you or try to make you be something you’re not.”
I can’t tell you how nice that sounds.
In addition to all of that, I also think the way APR delivers and gathers news is the future of this business.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not predicting the death of newspapers. I’ve always hated it when some person who’s been working at a newspaper leaves for a website and immediately proclaims the death of the newspaper industry.
Because it’s not true.
The general public has always been willing to pay for and consume the news published by daily papers. Unfortunately, the people running newspapers were dopes when it came to figuring out the Internet in the 1990s and early-2000s, so they lost billions in revenue over the last several years.
All because they were too big and too broad and too stuck in their ways to pivot to models that would allow them to better monetize their content.
Websites like APR are exactly what newspapers should have been: the news, quickly and easily and without the pomp and circumstance, surrounded by quality commentary from both sides of the political aisle and a nimble organization that can devote resources where the public interest lies.
That last one is key: give people the news they want.
Newspapers waste a ton of time and money on junk no one cares about. Sure, if you’re operating an organization that’s pulling down a 30-percent profit margin every year, maybe devoting a reporter to covering school openings and small private school sports events and county commission meetings would be a nice way to let the community know you appreciate the support.
But if you’re a struggling daily in 2016, it’s stupid.
Readers care about the news. They care that you were at the big press conference, talked to the source, got it right and let them know as quickly as possible.
That’s all why I decided that APR was the best landing spot for me. Well, that and the fact that the Britts offered me a job.
That always helps.
I truly believe that with our combined love for investigative reporting and breaking news, along with recognizing the importance of balanced viewpoints and the role of social media, we can make APR into a major media player in this State.
So, let’s go.