Wade on Birmingham

Kyle Whitmire, Weld co-owner, splits for Birmingham competitor


Weld for Birmingham cover, Paper Cuts

A look at the reaction online to the move … and the controversial publisher statement

Kyle Whitmire, Weld co-owner, splits for Birmingham competitor

A look at the reaction online to the move … and the controversial publisher statement

Storified by Wade Kwon · Tue, Jul 31 2012 09:34:34

Photo: Kyle Whitmire, left, and Mark Kelly
Kyle Whitmire, new media editor and co-founder of Weld for Birmingham, surprised Birmingham readers Friday morning, July 27. He was leaving the startup outlet to join the Alabama Media Group, the company formed to take over the Birmingham News and al.com.

[More on this story on Media of Birmingham.]

He ended the rollercoaster day with this announcement (from his modified Twitter account, @warondumb, which had been @secondfront) …
So many thanks to so many people who made a tough day bearable. I love you all. I’ll be back with you soon.Kyle Whitmire

Word gets out

Birmingham News columnist John Archibald (@johnarchibald) made the initial report on Twitter.
It’s official. The bosses just announced hiring Kyle @WarOnDumb Whitmire and my old friend Mia Watkins at Bham News — I mean AMG. Welcome.John Archibald
Twitterers were stunned.
@JohnArchibald @warondumb So Kyle turned to the dark side eh? 😉 Seriously though, congrats! Good luck.Joe Walker
@JohnArchibald @MCuthbert @WarOnDumb Seriously?Scott Wilson
@wilsonsway @MCuthbert @WarOnDumb Seriously.John Archibald
Exciting news: Kyle Whitmire (@WarOnDumb) is joining Alabama Media Group starting next month as politics & gov reporter. A great addition.Marty Swant
Congrats to Kyle Whitmire. You and Barnett can be a team nowAlan Collins
@WarOnDumb Congrats on the new AMG gig. Looking forward to reading more of your work.Jeremy Burgess
@JohnArchibald @MCuthbert @WarOnDumb Congratulations, then. Welcome to the ‘Salt Mine’ folks. :)Scott Wilson
"Official" congrats @WarOnDumb! You, @JohnArchibald and I should chat some time next week ;-)Tanya Ott
Looks like Kyle Whitmire joined Ala Media Group/al·com, dumped @SecondFront, uses @WaronDumb. But what of @WeldBham? #bhamWade Kwon
@WadeOnTweets first @glennybrock and now @warondumb – think @WeldBham should speak up?Kevin Storr
@kevinstorr @WadeOnTweets @WarOnDumb @WeldBham I’ll speak up: We’re all on a media merry-go-round & I’m riding a unicorn instead of a horse.Glenny Brock
@glennybrock @KevinStorr @WadeOnTweets @WarOnDumb @WeldBham best line of the week & u can’t sum it up better than that!Kevin Storr
Whoa. @WarOnDumb? Well now…King Cockfight
Happy for @WarOnDumb. @aldotcom/@Birmingham_News is leaps and bounds better with him on board, and no better fit for transition. #alpoliticsKing Cockfight
And hell, if you can sell Kyle Whitmire on Alabama Media Group, you can definitely sell me and the rest of AL. Very cool news. #alpoliticsKing Cockfight
@JohnArchibald @WarOnDumb congrats all!WilliamThornton
@KingCockfight @WarOnDumb @Birmingham_News |Restoring balance to the Force? Or cruel joke to force Kyle into moderating #aldotcommentary?Virgil Hailwood
I’m very proud of @WarOnDumb and @glennybrock.brad daly
Thanks @bwdaly. I’m proud of us too. @WarOnDumb is full of surprises.Glenny Brock
@WarOnDumb Congratulations on the new job!Jim Little
Kyle Whitmire @WarOnDumb is moving from @WeldBham to AMG. But will that be the @Birmingham_News or @aldotcom? Or will there be a difference?Jim Little
The fact that @warondumb has a) apparently named his new column "war on dumb" and b) joined http://al.com shows we’re screwed in BhamJoseph Blake
Oh, perfect! RT @martyswant: Kyle Whitmire (@WarOnDumb) is joining Alabama Media Group starting next month as politics & gov reporter.Kelly
@WarOnDumb congrats on the new gig.Cliff Sims

Weld publisher’s statement

Weld publisher Mark Kelly issued a strongly worded statement online:

“Over the past several weeks, substantial differences arose between our management team and Kyle. Those differences were related to our plans for the immediate and future direction and priorities of Weld for Birmingham and its online and print publications. They also involved issues related to Kyle’s current and past job performance and fulfillment of his duties as a shareholder in our company.”
Weld publisher Mark Kelly releases statement regarding Kyle Whitmire’s departure from Weld: http://weldbham.com/blog/2012/07/27/statement-regarding-kyle-whitmires-departure-from-weld/Weld for Birmingham
Reaction on Twitter was equally unkind.
@WeldBham Oh snap.Mike Douglas
@WeldBham ‘s letter regarding Whitmire’s leaving sounds personal and petty. Sorry one of your talent’s is leaving, but your letter is sad.Ryan C. Moon
Mark Kelly @WeldBham publisher issues statement on @WarOnDumb departure. http://weldbham.com/blog/2012/07/27/statement-regarding-kyle-whitmires-departure-from-weld/ Not gonna lie, it sounds kinda bitter.Jim Little
@JimWLittle @WeldBham @WarOnDumb “kinda”? psh. reeks of it.Luke Lucas
I don’t know the first thing about Kyle Whitmire, but I know butt-hurt pettiness when I read it. http://bit.ly/OUBOWSChris Lee Gray
@WeldBham http://books.google.com/books?id=vKhQ6BtFRNsC&lpg=PP1&ots=xbLbCSKPiK&dq=weld%20failure%20analysis&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=falseBirminghamster
Whitmire leaves WELD and raises a welt. I’m torn between thinking this is bad form or seeing it as transparency. : http://bit.ly/LSKHEtwordrocket
@martyswant @bwdaly @WarOnDumb gosh, did you read that cry-baby pr from the guy left at Weld? Do what’s best for you, Kyle.John McCarter
Yikes! Why don’t you just say I’m taking my ball and going home? @WeldBham @warondumb http://weldbham.com/blog/2012/07/27/statement-regarding-kyle-whitmires-departure-from-weld/Greg Wingo
Whitmire, along with former Weld editor Glenny Brock, worked together for almost 10 years at another publication, Birmingham Weekly.
@WeldBham to merge with @BhamWeekly to better cover "former staffers" beat.Birminghamster
@WeldBham Sorry to say, "Goodbye Kyle? Goodbye Weld."Adele Culp
@WeldBham I strongly advise that Kelly’s future statements re:staffers exits be passed by HR or legal prior to release.Readership withdrawn.Jason Templin
All current managers, supervisors, leaders, bosses, etc… This is a template for how NOT to handle employee exits http://weldbham.com/blog/2012/07/27/statement-regarding-kyle-whitmires-departure-from-weld/Jason Templin
@WarOnDumb Wow! Want to make a statement? I thought you were Weld!bfpmusic
Peas in a pod. @warondumb http://instagr.am/p/Nmwh-jKQPm/brad daly
@MaximusShelby @secondfront @weldbham reading Mark Kelly’s response it appears Kelly is a dick and Kyle smart to get the hell away.Rufus T. Firefly

Longer responses to the publisher’s statement

Statement regarding Kyle Whitmire’s departure from WeldPublisher, Weld for Birmingham Statement regarding Kyle Whitmire’s departure from Weld from Weld Publisher Mark Kelly As has been reporte…
The longer comments left below the original statement reflect even more critical reaction from the readers, including “unprofessional,” “arrogant” and “disgusting.”
I’m sure I don’t need to point this out because it is already beyond apparent – but this public statement reeks of butthurt. Unprofessional!Tori LaConsay
hmmmmShannon E Johnson
This absolutely stuns me. People say that I know everybody and everything about Birmingham, which is just flat false. However, I was under the impression that Madison Underwood and Kyle were what kept WELD running. I am not sure what WHAT will keep the Birmingham News running….Richard Dabney
Very unprofessional.Heather Taylor
Holy crap. In the category if you can’t beat ’em, join them. Or is it if you can’t beat them, offer them more money and steal them away from the competition?MD Words
Somebody’s feelings are hurt. What goes around comes around suckas. No Glenny. No Kyle. No reason to continue with Weld. See ya. Kelley Carmon Brown
Y’all should each roll up a copy of your fish wrappers and bludgeon each other with ’em.Derek R Trimble
I read this and really was left hoping it was joking jester between friends to start a little competitive rivalry. Otherwise, this is in very unprofessional.Tamara Pitts Mahaffey
theis is one of the most uuprofessional "statements" of this type I ever remember reading. Not to applaud BN company for their layoffs etc. but most of this should have been keep "in the business closet. "Richard Robinson
Did he call you a poopoohead on the way out the door, too?Trey McClure
Oh, my. Well, we all must be accountable for our own journey. Carry on and look forward.Wendy Price
I confess, Kyle Whitmire I why I read Weld B’ham.Adele Stockham Culp
I like this statement. I respect that something can be written where parties are not obliged to add sentiment to fact. There couldn’t be anything more professional in the journalism industry. This statement makes sense, is well written, and pulls no punches. I say KUDOS!Kelly Barr
We wish him well in his new position and look forward to competing for readership in this exciting and evolving market. Nuff said. Leave the panty wadding at home.Mark DiChiara
Sorry to hear about your loss. Kyle was really the only reason I ever visited this site.Richard Thomas
First Glenny and now Kyle — two founders of the paper. Based on this statement I’m wondering if it’s Weld’s management that (sadly) has the problem.James P. Fahy
Kyle Whitmire is one of the best reporters I read – I look forward to reading what he ‘s able to get in the News.Johnny Coley
"I think it would be fun to run a newspaper".Dave Arndt
What a piece of crap comment by Kelly. Hey Mark…If you were any manager at all you would accept your pain and not act like a child publicly. In fact, perhaps if you valued talent as you insinuate, you would never have lost your most talented reporter and the name/face behind your publication. Best of luck finding reporters trying to better themselves…particularly if this is how you treat them…Matt Murphy
I call on Mark Kelly, publisher of Weld for Birmingham, to publicly state the specific stated "differences" between management and Kyle Whitmire. Also – please explain these "job performance issues" you claim your newspaper had with its star reporter. If you cannot detail these in a public forum, then you owe the defamed, Whitmire, a swift and formal apology. Oh yeah… on a side note…your MOST loyal readers did so because of Kyle. Whitmire. Way to piss them off by shitting on him as he walks out the door to a better and more stable gig. BRILLIANT move….Perhaps this type of decision making is what lead Kyle to make the move in the first place…Matt Murphy
What an arrogant and unprofessional statement! You might want to hire a pr person to help you out of your own ditch! Disgusting!Donna J. Eddins
Well Pro for Lazy-ham News and Con for Weld….Welcome to the old business tactic of "Absorb competitor’s talents until they cant sustain the business". Mark I hope you can get a suitable replacement for Kyle, cause otherwise they just strong-armed a good reporter from you. Lazy-ham News is still screwed, Kyle is the one that benefited the most out of this cause he got PAID.John Wood
Weld Birmingham = BBoE.Chris Morrow
In a rare moment of candor, Lee Waites of The Birmingham Free Press stated "Hell! No offense. But I thought Kyle Whitmire was Weld!"Birmingham Freepress-music
This commentary was a total dick move on your part. You could have been professional about the whole matter, but you really Chick-Fil-A’d it here.Anthony DeWayne Mack
Maybe a tad unprofessional compared to other industries, but that’s the media business (remember, Weld runs columns like ‘Ask a Mexican’ and reports on hard news which just at its core can be unprofessional sometimes). That is very different from a bank or a local shop or any other type of business really. I thought Kyle was one of the owners at Weld, and if an owner is leaving a locally-owned independent publication to go to work for a major competitor owned by a New Jersey-based company that just eliminated half of its workforce here in Birmingham…then Mark might have a point. If I were Mark, I would be concerned about leaks of strategy information and maybe I’d be wishing I put a non-compete in place too. If I were a ‘News reporter who worked there for 15 years or more and is out of a job soon, then I’d wonder about the hire too. That being said, Kyle is one of the best – if not the best- political reporters in the state of Alabama and the ‘News clearly got a catch. But, Mark and Weld deserve to feel a little slighted by this as they are a start up trying to build a locally-owned news business in a time of incredible disruption in the media industry and clearly Kyle was a core part of that until now. Let ’em have this. Looking forward to seeing more of Madison’s stories too.Emily Lowrey
Wow. I hope Mark Kelly has the sense to be embarrassed by this eventually.Monica Crosby Donohoe
Yes, this article is unnecessarily cheeky, but I’m mostly just sad about Whitmire’s move from Weld to the Birmingham News. Hell, bands are accused of selling out all the time, just because they opt for a bigger label. Integrity doesn’t feed your family, etc. So, I’m not hating on that. But, Whitmire is one of the only voices that speaks truth in journalism, and frankly, I was invigorated that Weld was a new hope for our city in that manner. I know so many conservatives and liberals that found relief in such good reporting at Weld. How rare is that? Fact: One Weld article covers more detail on important Birmingham issues than 10 Al.com pieces. (ok, that’s my own fact, but I’m a frequent reader of both) So, I will continue to read and support Whitmire, but I worry what the B’ham news will do to his style over time. I’ll also continue with Weld, but worry about this rift. An undeserving competition just stole Weld’s quarterback, but the team can recover. Don’t waste this, Al.com… you thieving bastards.Christina Smith
I have always heard that feelings are not facts. We may never know the facts. The feelings speak for themselves.Jerry Griffies

Birmingham Business Journal

Even the Birmingham Business Journal’s article on Whitmire’s departure drew interesting comments.
Weld’s Whitmire leaves for Alabama Media Group – Birmingham Business JournalDate: Friday, July 27, 2012, 2:23pm CDT – Last Modified: Friday, July 27, 2012, 2:27pm CDT Well-known columnist of Weld for Birmingham, K…
It is interesting to note that Weld is suffering from the same talent drain that afflicted the Birmingham Weekly when it ran off Kyle and Glenny Brock, who had edited both publications. If I was a Weld investor, I would be extremely concerned with the safety of my money right now.Beau Butts
Shouldn’t the BBJ disclose that they are owned by the same parent company as Alabama Media Group?Joseph Blake

More community responses

Weld’s Facebook link to the publisher’s statement drew its own comments: “petty,” “embarrassing” and “mean.”
Weld publisher Mark… | Facebookundefined
Wow I was already on the fence with WELD once Glenny left, now Kyle Whitmire also? This statement put out by WELD publisher Mark Kelly however stinks of bitterness and to me seals the deal. So long WELD, we hardly knew thee.Jason Hamric
Even members of a UAB sports forum found it worthy of discussion
NBR: Kyle Whitmire leaves Weld BirminghamCountdown to Kickoff UAB Blazers I Root For: University of Alabama – Birmingham Location: Birmingham AL UAB Blazers I Root For: Universit…

Wade Kwon is a communications consultant based in Birmingham, Ala. He has also been a journalist for 25 years.

If you liked this story ….

• See more on Wade on Birmingham and Media of Birmingham.

• Follow @WadeOnTweets on Twitter.
• Embed this story in your site (look for the </> Embed button at top).

3 Yips for “Kyle Whitmire, Weld co-owner, splits for Birmingham competitor”

  1. Whitmire departs Weld, leading to online acrimony from the publisher | Media of Birmingham
    Tuesday, July 31, 2012, 12:19 pm

    […] Within hours of the story breaking on Twitter, Weld publisher and co-owner Mark Kelly issued a strongly worded statement online that drew immediate criticism from readers. […]

  2. Tanya Ott
    Wednesday, August 1, 2012, 9:28 am

    Thanks for the compilation, Wade! I was out of town, with a dead cell phone, when this story broke so I missed most of the social media on it.

  3. Wade Kwon
    Wednesday, August 1, 2012, 10:30 am

    You’re welcome, Tanya — glad you checked it out.

Leave a Yip

Subscribe without commenting