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The al.com 2012 front page redesign

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Online reaction to previews of a new look to Alabama’s biggest website


al.com 2012 front page redesign

Online reaction to previews of a new look to Alabama’s biggest website.

Storified by Wade Kwon · Wed, May 23 2012 18:02:40

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AL.com, the state’s biggest website, announced it was making changes to the home page and to its site navigation. Advance Digital, based in Jersey City, N.J., had already rolled out the redesign to sister sites in Michigan and New Orleans.
The new version launches Wednesday.
We’re remodeling your place: About the new al.com homepageEarly Wednesday morning, al.com will launch a major redesign of our homepages and navigation. Our goal is to continue standing out as the…
Comments show a fairly negative reaction. Concernedbr wrote, “Advance Digital should be ashamed of this turkey.”
• • •
To compare the designs, take a look at the front page of al.com, before the 2012 makeover …
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… versus the front page of Nola.com after the makeover.
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… and the new version of al.com.
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Early in-state Twitter reaction was … tepid.
.@aldotcom will be renovating site soon. Will be all AL/AU football & comments. All other content deemed irrelevant.Brian LeCompte
just saw the new @aldotcom redesign. I, um, wish them luck with that. #BIGFONTS #BRIGHTYELLOWchris
• • •

Reporter Michael Tomberlin also wrote a story for the Birmingham News on the upcoming changes: “The home page at al.com is undergoing its first revisions since 2008 as part of what officials say is the most far-reaching redesign since the site launched in 1997.”

The last major revision (that I recall) a few years back opened all stories to comments; previously, only blog posts had comments, while stories from the print edition had no comment option.
My story yesterday: RT @BhamNewsBiz: http://Al.com to unveil major new look for its homepage http://bit.ly/Koe5OvMichael Tomberlin
Al.com to unveil major new look for its homepageVisitors to the most popular website in Alabama will notice some major changes when al.com launches a new format on Wednesday. The home …
Comments were a mixed bag. Mixduptranslator wrote, “This just looks terrible. Horrible. It’s amazing that the same company that owns Ars Technica, Wired Magazine, and Conde Nast owns this upcoming monstrosity of a news site.”

• • •
Kyle Whitmire of Weld had a mini-discussion on his Facebook page about the design changes.
AL.com posts a… | FacebookRevamped design based on user feedback.
Kathy Chahrouri comments in the thread, “AL.COM is such a JOKE for an online newspaper. Stupid commenters ARE NOT NEWS. It gripes me no end seeing headlines about what the stupid commenters are saying. GAH. Who thinks that is news? Except page-view-counters!”

• • •

I heard a lot of critical feedback on Twitter after sharing the news …
This is what @aldotcom will look like starting Wednesday … http://nola.com / http://mlive.comWade Kwon
@wadeontweets I’m guessing it’s because they’re all sister publications. I know NOLA is, anyway.Scott Wilson
@wilsonsway That is correct — Alabama is third in line.Wade Kwon
@WadeOnTweets Looks like Advance Digital is making a sweeping overhaul of their online presence.Scott Wilson
Yuck! RT @WadeOnTweets: This is what @aldotcom will look like starting Wednesday … http://nola.com / http://mlive.comEboni Thomas
@EboniDaScrooge They are doing it to make us better people. That is what I have been told to say.Wade Kwon
@WadeOnTweets @aldotcom when http://NOLA.com changed their site everyone complained via FacebookTeam NOLA-Ice
@NOLAIceBham Thanks! I found it: http://on.fb.me/KFGZgn / and this http://bit.ly/JduDaEWade Kwon
@WadeOnTweets YikesMike C
@WadeOnTweets YELLOW. YELLOW IS A CHEERFUL BRIGHT SHOUTY COLOR. LET’S MAKE EVERYTHING YELLOW.BitterOldPunk
@BitterOldPunk "HI, I’M A NEWS SITE. I WANT TO HUG YOU WITH MY BOLD FONTS AND BUMBLEBEE PALETTE. LOVE ME. CLICK ME."Wade Kwon
@WadeOnTweets I don’t want to be hyperbolic, but it might be the worst thing I’ve ever seen.chris
@Cin_D_Z @ditchell It’s a delightful punch to the face of headlines and itty bitty photos. Plus, everyone loves scrolling.Wade Kwon
Are they trying to reduce readability? RT @WadeOnTweets: This is what @aldotcom will look like starting Wednesday … http://nola.comageekgirl
@ageekgirl Wait till you see the mobile version …Wade Kwon
@WadeOnTweets ack! Talk about running yourself OUT of business.ageekgirl
Any improvement is good?! RT @WadeOnTweets: This is what @aldotcom will look like starting Wednesday … http://nola.comLK Whitney
@ditchell @WadeOnTweets I’m not sure the biggest problem w/al.com is the way it looks.Chance Shirley
• • •
Comments were somewhat negative from my Facebook post.
This is what… | FacebookSign Up Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
Ed Noles wrote, “I think I’m digging the consolidated IA [information architecture] and the mega dropdowns… but why is it soooo yellow???”

• • •

For comparison, the rollout on Nola.com pulled in nearly 400 comments. Not surprisingly, they echo the early comments from al.com visitors.
About the new NOLA.com homepageWe are pleased to present a major redesign of our homepage and navigation. Our goal is to stand out as the most useful and responsive sou…

EddieIsDaBomb wrote, “There is no so much less actual CONTENT on the screen … huge images and headlines force you to scroll, scroll, scroll all over. A crime against usability.”

The announcement on Nola.com’s Facebook page also pulled in dozens of negative reactions.
Exciting news! – KM | FacebookOn Thursday, NOLA.com debuts a major redesign of our homepage and navigation. Prepare for a big change: Bold colors, less clutter and new…
The Birmingham News announced the updated al.com front page on its Facebook stream.
Guess what? Our… | FacebookGet the latest Birmingham, Alabama Local News, Sports News & US breaking News. View daily Birmingham, AL weather updates, watch videos an…
Al.com has not posted about the upcoming change on its Facebook page yet. Al.com posted about the change Wednesday afternoon on its Facebook page.
Have you noticed… | FacebookWhen we launch the new design for al.com homepages early Wednesday morning, it is is just the beginning of our work to make your place be…
Also, a look at how user feedback can help shape — or derail — new products and services on Birmingham Blogging Academy.
The perilous world of user feedbackGrocery IQ received hundreds of bad reviews after its latest app upgrade. I love users, even when they don’t love me or my company back. …
Birmingham designer Brian Krogsgard pointed me to this review of the redesigned Nola.com from Alabama-based designer Matt Thomas of WordPress company Automattic.
It Gets WorseThe state of web design in the news business has always been bad, but it seems to be getting progressively, demonstrably worse. It’s not …

Twitter reactions from the Wednesday morning launch …

The new @aldotcom page needs more yellow. I’m not quite blind yet.Brian LeCompte
Seriously. That header bar popping back is annoying. Make it static. @aldotcomBrian LeCompte
so @aldotcom gets an overall positive grade from me so far on the new site, but as @flashpointblog pointed out…stop the floating header bar.Matt Murphy
OMG, anyone else seen the redesign of @aldotcom today? Colors are HORRENDOUS!!Brian Wright
@aldotcom Your new web design is awful. It is not user friendly.Maxwins Racing
Ewww @aldotcom! Change it back! #changeitbackEric Craig
Can appreciate the need for an updated look at @aldotcom, but it looks too much like the yellow pages.Chuck Tonini
So, I complain about @aldotcom yesterday and today it looks like its designed for an 8 year old. My opinion at work people.clickityclack
The new @aldotcom layout doesn’t really bother me. I’ve just got to make sure that I never look at it while hungover. #BRIGHTHunter Johnson
@aldotcom Ack! Not a fan of all that yellow on the homepage. Tone it down a little!Andrea Wright
#Huntsville peeps dislike the new @aldotcom design? Here’s your new bookmark: http://mobile.al.com/advhunts/index.htmεriç αtk¡ñ§
@MattScalici @aldotcom Don’t like the yellow.Zeke Byers
@AdamThompsonAL Now @aldotcom looks like one giant Yellow Book ad.Gina Smith
what in the world is this new layout on @aldotcom??! #BRIGHT is an understatementSeth Bryan
@WadeOnTweets @aldotcom Morning! The sis told me about it earlier. I am quite fond of it. Change is good!Shermika Dunner
@aldotcom I applaud the recognition that a site redesign was needed. However, the new design color scheme and fixed header is jarring.nathan claburn
@wadeontweets Couldn’t @aldotcom give us the better navigation w/o the ugly? Those colors will make us all go blind.Carl Carter, APR
Congratulations to @aldotcom on the new layout! Kudos from @KC_ProjectsKC Projects
@aldotcom new design looks really bad. #lookslikeshit #wtfyo http://instagr.am/p/K-Q8lQhlwG/Zac Uselton
Digging the new @aldotcom http://www.al.comChris Yow
Mindfuck of the day: The same company that owns/designs @arstechnica and @wired owns and designed @aldotcomJoseph Blake
The font on the new @aldotcom appears blurry around the edges on my display. Anybody else seeing that?Taylor Nichols
On my laptop, @aldotcom’s new header takes up the entire top half+ of the screen. And 1/3 of what’s left is ad space.Taylor Nichols
It’s so cool that @aldotcom’s header follows you down the page as you’re trying to scroll away from it so you can read your article.Taylor Nichols
I think I need sunglasses to view the new @aldotcom Also, does their web admin know there is a baseball tournament going on?Melanie Hatcher
I assume the new @aldotcom was designed with a stick on a plate of mustard by a three year old in 2003. @WadeOnTweetsMatt Davis
I’ll be using Google Reader to avoid this forced http://waybackmachine.org experience that is @aldotcom.Matt Davis
I’d love the new @aldotcom design if they could use more yellow, incorporate more nasty fonts, and sprinkle in some huge flash ads.Christopher Ware
@WadeOnTweets @SecondFront @aldotcom Tried it this morning. As expected, errors on the site. #crappysiteSteve Bottchen
What in the world happened to @aldotcom ? Did it hire a blind web/graphic designer for its new site? Is today April Fools…? #hideousNathan Payne
@deongordon @walkerdl y’all say tomato… i say tomato! @aldotcom’s redesign may be bad, but it’s better than it was! ijs…Iva Williams
I have no words for the new @aldotcom design…. looks I need to ONLY read RSS from now on.Matthew Sheets 
They might as well as just move this entire @aldotcom debacle to TumblrMatt Davis
The new @aldotcom site is a kick in my eyes’ balls.Ryan Harrison
@davidmurphree You’d think @aldotcomwould have a designer or just well a human look at it prior to launch.Matthew Sheets 
I’m pretty sure that the universal reaction online today is that @aldotcom’s redesign is the worst since Geocities went extinctJoseph Blake
Holy buckets, @aldotcom has changed the web site and it is dreadful! Might take the rest of the week to find what I’m looking for.Natasha J. Parker
@Dawn_Kent I was more impressed by the new http://al.com than I thought I would be. I am now interested in digging around it.sorensonbhm
@Dawn_Kent worst site possible, pushed loyal readers away Dick Phillips
@Dawn_Kent Like it. What went into choosing the yellow?Gary Lloyd
@GaryALloyd If they went w/ red or orange, they’d get blamed for being biased toward Bama or AU, right? Totally kidding, no idea. I’ll ask.Dawn Kent
@MattScalici thought I had accidently followed a link to http://yellowbook.com. Don’t mind change, but this is not an improvement.Curt Martin
@MattScalici I mean, if the goal was to wake my eyes up, then mission accomplished, pal.Hunter Johnson
@mattscalici are we sure that yellow is the optimum color for a news page? You know, "yellow journalism," what have yougreg dawkins
@MattScalici Yikes! What was http://al.com thinking!Marynell Ford
Jimmy Rane bought http://al.com?Mark P
If it doesn’t say http://al.com on the header, believe me, you don’t want it RT @TheAuburner: Jimmy Rane bought http://al.com?The War Eagle Reader
"I’d like it to be confusing. I want the colors to be puke-centric, and I want text everywhere." – some web guy at http://al.comAdam Kramer
Everyone come check out the redesigned http://al.com!Wesley Sinor
@Birmingham_News I think the new http://al.com STINKS! I liked it the way it was. I have it as my home page, but that may change.David Green
Made my first visit to the "updated" http://al.com site and was almost blinded by the bright yellow color scheme.Ben Woolnough
@BhamBargainMom I can’t find your column with the new layout on http://al.com. I hate it alsoExplosive
The new http://al.com layout is pretty awful. The overuse of yellow being my biggest problem.Stuart Hartley
Spoiled the reveal of the new http://al.com by visiting http://nola.com yesterday. Good luck with all that, guys.Eric Turner
Best part of the new http://al.com? That postage stamp logo looking lost and confused in the upper left.Eric Turner
Have y’all seen the new look at http://al.com? It’s easier to navigate! And yellow!Elizabeth Hoekenga
http://al.com Please consider a change back Dick Phillips
The new http://al.com seems less professional. if these papers want to be considered serious they need to take a cue from NYT or WPZachary McAuley
@KaraKennedy please help http://al.com is the worst page now!!! Dick Phillips
@kammieavant Hated http://al.com before. Hopefully this will be easier to navigate, but it looks kind of "small town."Mariesa
My eyes are burning from the http://al.com redesign. Terrible.Laura
The new look of http://al.com sure is something to behold. http://blog.al.com/al/2012/05/about_the_new_alcom_homepage.html #ewBrian Krogsgard
Didn’t think it was possible to make http://al.com more unreadable than it already was. #hurtsmyeyesSusan Fillippeli
@WadeOnTweets To paraphrase a recently popular tune, http://al.com "got me scrollin’… I’m hatin’…" And why the YP yellow?Richard Kirby
I’m not a design nerd, and I don’t have much of an aesthetic sense, but wow. New http://al.com makes me want to tear my eyes out.Jason Gruber
I personally love the color yellow, so I like the redesign of the Press-Register website, http://al.com. http://www.al.com/mobile/Carol McPhail
I almost had a seizure when I looked at the new http://al.com site layout.Ross Collings
…and you thought the already horrible design of http://al.com couldn’t get any worse. The new layout looks like a cheap phonebook.Nico
Wow. http://al.com’s redesign is absolutely terrible. Just a complete UI/UX nightmare.Rob Peck
Wow. Really dislike the new http://al.com http://al.com website. Doesn’t work in standards compliant Opera web browser.Cain Markham
http://al.com. Navigation is a screen nightmare in firefox. I like the heavier use of yellow, though.Cain Markham
I don’t know how, but http://al.com has managed to make their website worse than it was. What a terrible redesign job.Chandler Parker
The only way the new http://al.com layout could be any worse is if all the font was in Comic Sans.Hays Latimer
The new http://al.com layout nice tho. They need to thank the person responsible. IjsBlkDollyParton
Dang. Y’all weren’t joking about how shitty the new http://al.com looks.Will Duncan
The YellaFella rides again! RT @TheAuburner: Jimmy Rane bought http://al.com?George Talbot
Gah, http://al.com has been hit with the same ugly stick that http://nola.com was. Oregon, New Jersey, your sites are next!Matt Thomas
@Dawn_Kent I was more impressed by the new http://al.com than I thought I would be. I am now interested in digging around it.sorensonbhm
OMG the new http://al.com is…yellow. #webdesignGabriel Tynes
Except for the blinding yellow color, the new http://al.com site has some cool new features. Good job! #just_switch_colorsMarlin Caddell
@Birmingham_News I only got a chance to glance at the new http://al.com, but it seems slick and modern.G Everett Reeves
@kammieavant The Yellow Pages called. They’d like their 90s site design back.digitaldemented
@kammieavant I think it looks like the yellow pages.Lori Merricks
@kammieavant all the yellow makes me feel like I’m at Waffle HouseSam
@kammieavant Anything is an improvementClark Virden
@kammieavant I love the "notice anything different?" You mean that I can navigate your site for the first time in 10 years? And it’s yellow.Mariesa
@kammieavant could use some more testing… http://pic.twitter.com/X4RUg5kXcraig justice
While al.com has not posted about the change to its Facebook page, that hasn’t stopped fans from sharing their thoughts there
I could not love… | FacebookSign Up Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
I’m trying to think… | FacebookSign Up Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
Love the new color…. | FacebookSign Up Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
I’m not sure what… | Facebookundefined
DO NOT LIKE THE NEW… | FacebookSign Up Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
The new layout is… | FacebookSign Up Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
For what it is… | FacebookSign Up Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
So . . . how do YOU… | FacebookGet the latest Alabama Local News, Sports News & US breaking News. View daily AL weather updates, watch videos and photos, join the discu…
I like the new… | Facebookundefined
Wow, the new AL.com… | FacebookSign Up Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
What do you think of the new al.com design? Leave a comment on Wade on Birmingham with your thoughts.

My day at Freshfully

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Working the grand opening at Birmingham’s newest grocery store


My day at Freshfully

Working the grand opening at Birmingham’s newest grocery store

Storified by Wade Kwon · Tue, May 08 2012 12:12:36

Gray skies are dreary but balloons are cheery! http://instagr.am/p/KKsay-Lxux/Freshfully
My friends Jen Barnett and Sam Brasseale launched their business Freshfully in 2011, a Birmingham-based site where shoppers can order boxes of produce, meat and pantry items, all from Alabama farmers.
Last week, they opened their first grocery store as the winners of Occupy Avondale, a contest offering 6 months free rent in a retail space across the street from Avondale Brewing Company.
I spent a few days volunteering in the Freshfully market to help them with their grand opening. Take a look at all the great community activity from my first day on Thursday …
Emily Brown gave the rundown on all 3 days’ worth of cooking, music and more for the grand opening celebration.
Freshfully – Birmingham | Freshfully Grand OpeningFreshfully Grand Opening. May 3-5, Avondale. By: Emily Brown | Posted on: 04/ 23/2012. C31641rorhe9d709. Thanks to all of our supporters…
My friend Tamika Moore of the Birmingham News shot a terrific gallery of photos from the grand opening, including the founders Sam and Jen. (Read Marty Swant’s accompanying story.)
Freshfully opens Avondale market | FacebookFacebook
Slinging radishes, serenading shoppers. (@ Freshfully w/ @atticusrominger) http://4sq.com/JWEPIXWade Kwon
We saw a steady (sometimes overwhelming) stream of shoppers and residents throughout the grand opening. At one point, the store became flooded with well-wishers for the official ribbon cutting. In addition, the Birmingham News, ABC 33/40 and Fox 6 were on hand to cover the ceremony.
Ribbon cutting! http://pic.twitter.com/kr0sDPm7thePiècedeRésistance
Freshfully Market Ribbon Cutting | FacebookFacebook
Congrats to the @freshfully team on their ribbon cutting today! Come down and try the local tastes. Yum http://ow.ly/i/BsAoBirmingham Mtn Radio
Occupy Avondale winner @Freshfully’s @jenbarnett being interviewed for grand opening. Congrats!MainStreetBirmingham
Before opening each morning, I helped sort the produce, ensuring that only the best ones filled the bins. (Not to worry, the leftovers went to shelters and compost bins.)
You won’t see shoppers at supermarkets sharing their finds often, but you will at Freshfully. They are genuinely excited to show off the market’s locally grown and made wares. (See more photos from fans on Freshfully’s Facebook page.)
Grand opening @freshfully http://instagr.am/p/KLIWtVMo_H/Mallory Brasseale
@scottschablow @MezzoEnekes Eat your heart out. Bought it @Freshfully. @BelleChevre http://pic.twitter.com/LHrQvbAxSheree Martin
Let us indulge in lettuce. #Freshfullydee
Cute AL basket I got for free at Freshfully http://instagr.am/p/KLlGL9K1Sf/SayBre Photography
Getting some local produce at Freshfully! @ Freshfully http://instagr.am/p/KLflv2JnNe/Ryan McAnulty
Officially for sale at Freshfully in Birmingham http://instagr.am/p/KLgGdMq1QJ/SayBre Photography
The celebration included community members giving out free samples, discussing their products and enjoying the happy crowds wandering the aisles.
The Shindigs food truck parked out front, helping to promote its new box lunches to be sold at Freshfully. Other restaurants such as Urban Cookhouse and Chez Lulu also have grab-and-go meals there. The Chez Lulu turkey sandwich was delicious — I wolfed it down in about 3 minutes on my very short break that day.
The Shindig’s truck is here! Also, get a dollar off a beer at Avondale Brewing with your Freshfully receipt!Freshfully
Plus some steamed buns from @ShindigsTrucks! @ Freshfully http://instagr.am/p/KLiQ_XpnOt/Ryan McAnulty
We have grab & go lunches! @ Freshfully http://instagr.am/p/KK4BDuLxif/Freshfully
Right now at Freshfully: music by Bert Trotman, Birmingham Mountain Radio live, and free Indie Candy!Freshfully
Out at the grand opening of @Freshfully! Stop by do meet our founders and farm manager! http://lockerz.com/s/206206948AVAIL
One of my favorite finds was Pièce de RésistanceSyrah Gilley, founder of the McCalla-based specialty cookie company, came by to show off her latest batch.
She decorates each sugar cookie by hand, and the results are spectacular. I was blown away by the logos for Avondale Brewing and Freshfully on the treats (and they went fast).
photosyrahgilley
Freshfully cookie display! Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by and helped celebrate the Grand Opening!… http://fb.me/1QzjS7U9hthePiècedeRésistance
Freshfully opens Avondale market | FacebookFacebook
OK, these are too cute– and yummy! Delicious ABC sugar cookies at Freshfully, hand made by Syrah Gilley of the… http://fb.me/1JmzPoXlwAvondale Brewing Co.
OK, these are too cute– and yummy! DeliciousFacebook
Being a neighborhood market means seeing neighbors stop by, of course. What better way to celebrate Freshfully’s debut than with friends old and new.
Fab @freshfully market stocked w/ Alabama goods! "Checked out" by @wadeontweets & @bjessicabush http://instagr.am/p/KLTQQCTWby/JamiesRabbits
@JamiesRabbits "checked out", ey?? I knew @WadeOnTweets Had a thing for you! @Freshfully is where it’s happenin’!ObjectivityRach
Le Grand Opening! (@ Freshfully w/ @solepixel) [pic]: http://4sq.com/K4Bk1kPierce
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Grand Opening! (@ Freshfully w/ 2 others) [pic]: http://4sq.com/IIOCDcbrian dichiara
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What could be better? @ShindigsTrucks and @CantinaonWheels dinner, @AvondaleBrewing beer, and @Freshfully’s grand opening.Jason Horn
GREAT first visit to @Freshfully. Super friendly staff, awesome products and finally got to chat with @WadeOnTweets and @FinerGrind, too!Amber Roberson
Now we’re having Jason Grover from Fridays on My Mind and Buffalo Rock Ginger Ale cocktails!Freshfully
Hot tea with local honey I bought at @freshfully on Tuesday. Mmmmm. #warmsthecocklesSherri Ross

Additional coverage …

Review of FreshfullyOn Wednesday before the Digital City movie event I went to visit Freshfully. This new business in the Avondale area of Birmingham feature…
Freshfully celebrates Avondale openingBIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC)- Two days after it opened its doors for business in the historic community of Avondale, Birmingham-based grocery st…
Freshfully opens its doorsThe owners of Freshfully won the Occupy Avondale contest and received six months free rent in the new store.
I posted 13 photos on Facebook in the album "Freshfully Market Ribbon Cutting" http://fb.me/1QtJdcLwnBuy Alabamas Best
A look inside the Freshfully market in AvondalePosted: Thursday, May 03, 2012, 9:13 PM Freshfully, a market for Alabama farmers to sell their local produce, cheese, meats, nuts, honey …

Additional photos

Wade and Ms. Peanut Felicia Jackson!
I’m not saying that Wade Kwon is doing …Facebook
Wade with Freshfully marketing director Jessica Bush.
Just dropped in (finally) to @freshfully, and look at who I ran in to.. @bjessicabush @wadeont @ Freshfully http://instagr.am/p/KOK8-bBfMp/LK Whitney
Wade and Jen
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See the post at my site with a bonus video. And see more photos in my Facebook album.

Video: A look inside the Freshfully market

Vote 2012: Alabama primary runoff election results

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Wade on Birmingham - Vote 2012Today’s runoff results from state and metro Birmingham races … (Primary results from March 13.)

More election coverage for Vote 2012.

The general election takes place Nov. 6.

Runoff results

Winner in red

• • •

More Vote 2012 coverage.

Vote 2012: Alabama primary election results

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Vote 2012Election results from today’s primaries in Alabama and the Birmingham metro area …

More election coverage in our Vote 2012 special report.

(Updating throughout the evening.)

Update March 14: Voter turnout statewide was around 30 percent.

The runoff takes place April 24.

Democrats

(Contested races only)

Winner in red | Runoff candidates in blue

Republicans

(Contested races only)

Winner in red | Runoff candidates in blue

Tweets

This just in on Twitter …

(Or visit the TweetGrid page.)

Facebook

Visit the Birmingham, Ala., page on Facebook.

• • •

More Vote 2012 coverage.

Vote 2012: The first Alabama winter primary is under way

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

American flag, by Kevin Dooley

Photo: Kevin Dooley (CC)

The polls are open! Vote before 7 tonight for candidates in national, state and local races.

Vote 2012Q: Where do I vote?

A: Call Jefferson County: (205) 325-5550, Jefferson County (Bessemer only): (205) 481-4105, Shelby County: (205) 669-3913.

Or Search Your Polling Place on AlabamaVotes.gov.

Wade on Birmingham:
primary election results tonight

Remember, if you have problems at your polling place:

  • Notify a poll worker immediately.
  • Call the state attorney general at 1-800-831-8814 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Wednesday or fill out this online form.
  • Call the secretary of state at 1-800-274-VOTE (8683) or visit her site, StopVoterFraudNow.com.
  • And tell the probate court for Jefferson County (205-325-5203) or Shelby County (205-669-3713).
  • E-mail us at Vote2012[at]wadeonbirmingham.com.

Q: What can I expect to see on the ballots?

A: Check out these sample ballots for each county.

You’re voting for president, U.S. Representative, state and county officials.

Q: Who should I vote for?

A: Before you hit the voting booth, check out our roundup of newspaper endorsements from across Alabama.

Video: “NBC Nightly News” interviews voters in Birmingham.

Let us know where and when you voted, and how many votes were cast before yours.

• • •

More Vote 2012 coverage.

Vote 2012: A fistful of newspaper endorsements

Monday, March 12th, 2012

vote here

Photo: Rob Boudon (CC)

Vote 2012Several Alabama newspaper editorial boards have made their endorsements for primary races, including president, congressional and state offices.

Before you hit the polls Tuesday, see which candidates earned plaudits and why.

The statewide primary election is Tuesday, starting at 7 a.m.

• • •

More Vote 2012 coverage.

Vote 2012: Sample ballots for Jefferson, Shelby County primaries

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

See sample ballots for the 2012 general election
for Jefferson and Shelby Counties.

Spring is still a week away, but Alabama voters are headed to the polls extra early this year to pick their party candidates.

Vote 2012To help you see the full candidate list for your district, we’ve included sample ballots for Jefferson and Shelby Counties for the primaries. (The Jefferson County ballots, 11 pages and 36 pages, include versions for every district.)

Also included is the Alabama Voter Guide 2012, which has information on voting procedures and frequently asked questions.

For easier viewing, you can print, download or zoom to full screen with each ballot.

Primary elections take place Tuesday across the state.

• • •

Sample ballots for all 67 counties.

• • •

Jefferson County: Democratic ballot

Jefferson County: Republican ballot

Shelby County: Democratic ballot

Shelby County: Republican ballot

Alabama Voter Guide 2012

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More Vote 2012 coverage.

Alabama to play Creighton in NCAA Men’s Tournament

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

Alabama, Trevor Releford, JaMychal Green

Alabama’s Trevor Releford, left, and JaMychal Green
will face Creighton first in the Big Dance.

Alabama returns to the Big Dance this week. The ninth-seeded Crimson Tide (21-11, 9-7) will play No. 8 Creighton in the NCAA Men’s Tournament on Friday in Greensboro, N.C.

Alabama lost to Florida 66-63 in the second round of SEC Tournament Friday in New Orleans. In the 2011 NIT finals, Alabama lost to Wichita State 66-57.

The Bluejays won the Missouri Valley Tournament, beating Illinois State 83-79 in overtime, and finished with a 28-5 record. They face the Tide in the Midwest region.

The game airs at 12:40 p.m. Friday (time TBA) on CBS 42 TBS. [See all tipoff times.]

Brackets:

Also: Samford to face Duke in women’s tournament

Vote 2012: Here come the Republicans

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Newt GingrichMitt RomneyRick Santorum

From left, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum

Super Tuesday has come and gone without a definite frontrunner in the Republican presidential race. It has come down to the unlikeliest of election scenarios: Alabama matters.

Vote 2012And while it’s a given the Republican nominee will win the state in November, which one still remains up for grabs.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich visited Birmingham Wednesday, vowing to stay in the race despite his third place status in total delegates. The candidate from Georgia made stops at the Harbert Center and the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. Update March 10: Gingirch will be at the Wynfrey Hotel at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Details on admission to be added. The event is free and open to the public.

This afternoon, Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania will appear at a rally at the Pelham Civic Center. The free event starts at 2 p.m. This morning, he’ll be at another rally at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, heading to Mobile tonight for a candidate forum. Santorum is in a distant second place.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney will visit Friday in Tarrant. Currently leading in delegates, he will make a campaign stop at Thompson Tractor on Pinson Valley Parkway at 2 p.m.

Both Gingrich and Santorum will be back Monday for a free candidate forum at the Alabama Theatre downtown. Romney and Texas congressman Ron Paul have also been invited. Doors open at 3:30 p.m., with the event starting at 5:30.

Alabama’s primary will be Tuesday, with 50 delegates to be given proportionally (not winner take all).

Hard to swallow: Mike Elliott’s BBQ Sauce

Monday, March 5th, 2012

A Lake Martin product has a “savage” and apparent blessing of supermarkets statewide

We know how great Alabama food is, and we have 10 more months to tell the story. But not every product shows us at our best.

The state tourism department declared 2012 as the Year of Alabama Food for its annual themed campaign. I have pointed out that the diversity is sorely lacking in the featured restaurants [Facebook | Google+], but we’ll save that discussion for another day. The state’s first food-themed travel campaign was in 2005.

While the Year of Alabama Food spotlights restaurants and their dishes, another lesser-known program has been running since 2004, Buy Alabama’s Best.

This ongoing campaign by the Alabama Food Manufacturers and Producers focuses on homegrown products. During this month and September, an undisclosed portion of proceeds from sales of these products goes to Children’s of Alabama. The Buy Alabama’s Best logo on supermarket shelves marks which ones are members.

For instance, this one.

Mike Elliott's BBQ Sauce label

The label for Mike Elliott’s BBQ Sauce, made in Lake Martin

This is Mike Elliott’s BBQ Sauce, made in Lake Martin.

With more than 10,000 products in a typical supermarket, you may have missed it. But alongside Milo’s sweet tea, Sister Schubert’s homemade rolls, Bud’s Best Cookies and John’s slaw dressing, Mike Elliott’s sauce is among the featured Alabama few.

Mike Elliott's BBQ Sauce, Western Supermarket, Southside

Mike Elliott’s BBQ Sauce, with the Buy Alabama’s Best logo,
on the shelf at Western Supermarket on Southside

(We’re not entirely sure Mike Elliott’s product is an official Buy Alabama’s Best member, since it’s not listed as a manufacturer on the website.)

Update March 6: Ellie Smotherman Taylor, executive director of the Alabama Food Manufacturers and Producers Association, said in an email: “Mike Elliott’s BBQ Sauce is not part of the AFMPA and also not affiliated with the Buy Alabama’s Best campaign.”

Mike Elliott, a k a Michael WilsonOriginally from Birmingham, Mike Elliott — a k a Michael Wilson — has lived in Lake Martin since 1997. He worked in the restaurant business and started bottling his sauce 1 year ago this month, according to his website.

Asked by email about his label, Elliott said, “My ‘logo’ is a long story. He is a character that has been with me for quite some time.

“He’s meant to portrait that once trying my sauce that it will turn you into a savage and will do anything to get some of that savory sauce.”

The “savage” depicted on the label echoes centuries-old stereotypes of the black community, ones that continue to rile in Alabama. In June, the corruption “bingo” trial revealed that state Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale had called black customers of a Greene County casino “aborigines.”  The remarks sparked public outrage and condemnation. (He apologized for his comments 3 months later and is currently running for Congress.)

Mike Elliott’s BBQ Sauce can be found across Alabama, including Winn Dixie. In Birmingham, it’s in Alabama Goods in Homewood, Piggly Wiggly on Clairmont, V. Richards in Forest Park and Western Supermarket in Mountain Brook and on Southside.

Mike Elliott's BBQ Sauce, Western Supermarket, Mountain Brook

Mike Elliott’s BBQ Sauce, at the Western Supermarket
in Mountain Brook

Mike Elliott's BBQ Sauce, V. Richards, Forest Park

Mike Elliott’s BBQ Sauce, on the meat/seafood display
case at V. Richards

Mike Elliott's BBQ Sauce, Piggly Wiggly, Clairmont

Mike Elliott’s BBQ Sauce, at the Piggly Wiggly on Clairmont

I have to wonder if the buyers for those supermarket chains ever considered if the label would offend customers.

As the state increases its food and dining promotion, shoppers will see even more of Alabama’s homegrown merchandise, a move Elliott supports.

“I’m an Alabama-made product,” he said. “I believe and support all Alabama-made products from Millie Ray’s sweet rolls to Dirt Road Gourmet and Conecuh Sausage. If Alabamians would look within, it’s amazing what this state has to offer.”

Update June 17: Mike Elliott sent the following via email:

“Folks, I’m really at awe here that this conversation is still going on. First of all, some of your comments are directed to me, Mike Elliott, as if I have been participating in this dialog, which I have not.

“Once Wade ambushed me into his article about my product and published his attempt to destroy what I had worked so hard for, I have not commented on any of the feeds. He lied to me when he made his first inquiry about my product. Then, when he made up such a ridiculous story about it, I decided not to participate.

“I appreciate all of the people that have stood behind me, because I had no intentions of offending or insulting anyone. Since most of my customers happen to be black it never crossed my mind that my logo would become so controversial. I see the faces and reactions of people that try my sauce when I participate in farmer and flea markets. The sauce is amazing, and despite people like Wade, it’s growing rapidly.

“But it’s not my intent to offend anyone. Even the ones that have nothing better to do then find something that they can make themselves feel like they are so above the rest. So my new label is out and now in most stores in the Lake Martin area.

“It will be in all of the Birmingham stores before the 4th of July. The new label is more colorful, more festive and unless you have a problem with roasting a pig, it should be unoffensive to everyone.”

Mike Elliott's BBQ Sauce 2012 label

New label for Mike Elliott’s BBQ Sauce

Wade’s note: Elliott contends that he was misled on the story and that it was “made up.” I stand by my reporting, still have the emails exchanged and have invited him to point out any errors for correction.

Alabama stories shine in Hollywood spotlight

Friday, January 27th, 2012

The Help, Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis

From left, Emma Stone, and Oscar nominees
Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis star in “The Help.”

Hollywood has been reaching deep into Alabama’s past, present and future this week …

• Last week, “Red Tails” opened nationwide. The George Lucas-produced action movie follows the story of Alabama’s Tuskegee Airmen in their aerial battles against German pilots and their ground war against discrimination. The stars include Terrence Howard and Method Man. “Red Tails” reached No. 2 last weekend in box office take.

• Black history also plays a role in Tuesday’s Oscar nominations, which included two state connections. Montgomery native and Auburn grad Octavia Spencer earned a spot in the Best Supporting Actress category for her role as Minny Jackson in “The Help.” Earlier this month, she won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture.

The movie, based on Kathryn Stockett’s novel of the same name, follows the relationship of a young white woman and two black maids in Jackson, Miss., in the 1960s. “The Help” earned four nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actress for Viola Davis and another Best Supporting Actress for Jessica Chastain.

In the Best Documentary Short category, “The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement” scored a nomination. The 25-minute movie tells the story of James Armstrong, who marched carrying the American flag at Selma on Bloody Sunday in 1965. He was the first to file suit to desegregate Birmingham’s schools. Armstrong died at 86 in 2011 of heart failure.

Director Robin Fryday of San Francisco teamed up with director Gail Dolgin, who received a previous Oscar nomination for “Daughter from Danang” and died from breast cancer in 2010. “The Barber of Birmingham” had its Birmingham premiere in March at the Alabama Theatre.

The Academy Awards airs at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26 on ABC 33/40.

“A Smile as Big as the Moon” tells the true story of Mike Kersjes, a high school football coach and special education teacher who leads his special needs students to Space Camp in 1988. Kersjes and Joe Layden co-wrote the original book of the same name. The movie, filmed at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville and also in Wilmington, N.C., stars John Corbett, Moira Kelly and Cynthia Watros. It has its Huntsville premiere  at 7 tonight and airs at 8 p.m. Sunday on ABC 33/40.

Video: Minny (Octavia Spencer) gets a taste of revenge
in a scene from “The Help.”

Video: George Lucas discusses the struggle to find funding
for “Red Tails.”

Video: interview with director Robin Fryday and
James Armstrong’s grandson Darren on
“The Barber of Birmingham.”

Video: a look at “A Smile as Big as the Moon”

 

Tornadoes rip through Alabama for second time in 9 months

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Video: a look at the storm damage in a Center Point neighborhood

Storms and tornadoes made an unwelcome encore following their devastating march through Alabama on April 27. A series of tornadoes and severe storms passed through the central portion of the state in the early Monday morning hours.

Two were killed, and hundreds were injured. Hardest hit areas in Jefferson County included Center Point, Clay, Oak Grove and Trussville. Center Point received so much damage that Center Point Parkway wasn’t cleared to reopen for 2 days.

Hundreds of houses were destroyed or damaged along the path, which mirrored the same path of the deadly April tornadoes. Center Point Elementary, built in 2003, was damaged beyond repair and will have to be bulldozed and rebuilt.

Gov. Bentley declared a state of emergency for all counties.

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Audio: storm survivor stories

Center Point, Jan. 23 tornado

ABC 33/40 viewer-submitted photo

An EF-3 tornado tore through Center Point Monday.

Relief efforts are under way:

Find more up-to-the-minute news items, videos and more — including updated storm stories and relief efforts — on the new Birmingham Pinterest board.

Gallery: Jan. 23 storm aftermath

Scott Douglas discusses HB56 on ‘The Colbert Report’

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Video: Scott Douglas spars with Stephen Colbert
on the Jan. 16 “Colbert Report.”

“The Colbert Report” took up Alabama’s immigration law, HB56, once again. Monday, host Stephen Colbert “debated” Scott Douglas, executive director of Greater Birmingham Ministries.

The law has stirred debate over federal enforcement of immigration, labor rights, employment and more. Douglas spoke out against the law, saying the federal government should enforce a rewritten national law, rather than having local law enforcement uphold up to 50 separate state laws.

The comedy show had done a segment on HB56 in October, focusing on the law’s impact on state agriculture.

Video: “The Colbert Report” on Alabama’s immigration law
in October. 

Alabama wins 2011 BCS National Championship: newspaper front pages

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

A look at today’s newspapers, with front pages showing Alabama’s win over LSU for the BCS National Championship on Monday.

Alabama

Anniston Star

The Anniston Star

Birmingham News

The Birmingham News

Decatur Daily

The Decatur Daily

Dothan Eagle

The Dothan Eagle

Florence Times Daily

The (Florence) Times-Daily

Fort Payne Times-Journal

The (Fort Payne) Times-Journal

Gadsden Times

The Gadsden Times

Montgomery Advertiser

The Montgomery Advertiser

Mobile Press-Register

The (Mobile) Press-Register

Opelika-Auburn News

The Opelika-Auburn News

Tuscaloosa News

The Tuscaloosa News

Louisiana

Alexandria Town Talk

The (Alexandria) Town Talk

Baton Rouge Advocate

The (Baton Rouge) Advocate

Lafayette Daily Advertiser

The (Lafayette) Daily Advertiser

Lake Charles American Press

(Lake Charles) American Press

Monroe News-Star

The (Monroe) News-Star

New Orleans Times-Picayune

The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune

Shreveport Times

The (Shreveport) Times

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Tide defeats LSU in rematch to earn BCS title

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

State makes it three-peat for championships

Alabama 2011 BCS National Championship

Alabama coach Nick Saban celebrates the BCS
championship with the team Monday at the Superdome.

Alabama took care of business in 2012 what it couldn’t do in 2011: Beat LSU. The Tide, entering at No. 2, blanked the Tigers 21-0 in the BCS National Championship game Monday night in New Orleans.

Quarterback A.J. McCarron and linebacker Courtney Upshaw won the offensive and defensive MVP awards, while coach Nick Saban became the first coach to win three BCS titles, including 2009 at Alabama and 2003 at LSU. McCarron is the first sophomore QB to win a BCS title game.

Kicker Jeremy Shelley put up 15 points, tying the bowl record for five field goals. Trent Richardson tacked on something called a touchdown in the final 5 minutes. LSU hadn’t faced a shutout loss since 2002, losing to … Alabama; Saban was the Tigers’ coach at the time.

The state of Alabama brought home its unprecedented third title, following Auburn’s in 2010 and Alabama’s in 2009. And the SEC earned its sixth consecutive BCS championship, though technically also adding its first BCS championship game loss.

LSU and Alabama had already met once this season in November under similar circumstances, ranked at No. 1 and No. 2, and LSU coming away with the win in overtime 9-6.

Alabama finishes 12-1, while LSU finishes 13-1.

Video: highlights from the Alabama-LSU game