We live in an era where everyone is a journalist, AL.com columnist Roy S. Johnson said at Alabama Media Professionals’ Sept. 12 meeting, and, overall, he thinks that’s a good thing.
“Everybody's got a phone,” Johnson said. “Everybody's got a device. And so the challenge is filtering through the noise, filtering through what's real and what’s just people spouting. So it's a challenging time and it’s is a great time. I look at it as a positive. There are no more secrets. Imagine if we didn't have video.”
Johnson said he recently wrote a column that referred to the 1991 beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers. A citizen recorded the incident from his home.
“That was the first viral video,” Johnson said. “But today there's a camera everywhere. And that's a good thing because so many things that people have gotten away with over the years no longer happen.”
To adapt to the changing media landscape, Alabama Media Group, which owns the Huntsville Times, Mobile Press-Register, The Birmingham News and AL.com, the digital driver of all three newspapers, has created new brands that cater to particular audiences, Johnson said. For example, “This is Alabama” develops positive content for businesses, “Reckon” takes an in-depth looks at issues facing Alabama and the Black Magic Project is aimed at African-American audiences. “We see people where they are and are giving them the content they want to see under brands that they may recognize,” Johnson said.
Under his own entrepreneurial blanket, Johnson created “Ala-black-ma,” a Facebook page that presents positive content about African-Americans throughout the state. “I came up with the name on the night Doug Jones won the Senate race,” Johnson said. “Much of his election was driven by black voters, who overwhelmingly came out. So my headline was, ‘For one night, we were Ala-black-ma.’ Oh, you can imagine the activity.”
Johnson turned the attention into a brand that celebrates what black Alabamians are doing.
Before joining Alabama Media Group in 2014, Johnson was an editorial leader at several prominent publications, including History Channel magazine/digital (Editor-in-Chief), Men’s Fitness and mensfitness.com (VP, Editor-in-Chief), Sports Illustrated (Asst. Managing Editor) Fortune (Editor-at-Large). He was also the creator and founding Editor-in-Chief of Savoy magazine. Johnson has co-authored autobiographies with Earvin (Magic) Johnson, Charles Barkley and Avery Johnson.
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A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Roy lives in Birmingham, AL