BFP Volume 9
The Birmingham Free Press might be the greatest, most trustworthy, elegant, stylish, intelligent, dignified, etc. etc. broadsheet that this town has ever seen, but we are not the only one that it has ever seen. Yes, it’s true; there actually have been other newspapers in Birmingham. The Weekly Iron Age ran from 1884 to 1887. These were three years of stiff competition for the Birmingham Free Press, and let’s just say there were quite a few stiffs involved—if ya’ knows what I mean—by the time we got through dealing with this competition.
But putting aside the obvious negative of being in rivalry with us, the Weekly Iron Age managed to run some really, shall we say, interesting news articles. For instance on Sept. 8, 1887 they printed a feature called, “Don’t Infuriate Your Husbands,” above the fold on the front page. Here are the highlights:
Of course when the Birmingham Free Press covered the same event we didn’t use the words “negro,” “commenced,” or “fracas.” Neither did we make light of the grizzly murder, nor assume the motive was a late breakfast.
The Weekly Iron Age wasn't our only competition in past centuries. On May 21 1888 the Weekly Harold ran an article describing a meeting of state Republicans in Montgomery as a “wrangling mob of negroes.” How far the mighty have fallen. At least in the 1880s the Republicans had a little racial diversity and could manage to wrangle in a mob.
The same issue of the Harold ran a story on the front page entitled, “Bad Selma Tailor” The subhead reads, “He Borrows Money Under False Pretenses and Skips.” Now this is the sort of hard-nosed investigative reporting that is missing from most of today’s newspapers. The story goes like this (emphasis added):
On February 27, 1889 The Harold ran the cover story, “Hung in Effigy,” with the subhead, “Senator Milner Denounced by Calera Anti-Prohibitionists.” Even today it is unwise to come between the people of Calera and their alcohol.
If you are interested in reading some of the deceased and defunct former “competitors” of the Birmingham Free Press, many are archived by the Birmingham Public Library and available online at:
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