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The

Journal

T he Newspaper of the 29th Multicultural Journalism Program workshop at The University of Alabama

Recovery on the Gulf Coast:

Hurricane Ivan vs. the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

page 7

Orange Beach mayor fights

for his community

pg. 5

Souvenir City is fierce

competition

pg. 8

Two years after the spill, visitors have returned to Alabama’s beaches, including this one in Gulf Shores./Photo by MEGAN GUTER

In this edition of MJW Journal

Oil spill spells longer

summer vacation

pg. 6


2

A city bounces back

A look at Orange Beach, then and now

By Kenneth Harris

Step back in time to 2010

when Orange Beach was a dead

zone. There were no families

around and no kids building

castles due to oil on the sand.

Not a soul was in sight for as far

as one could see. The mood was

depressed, hopeless and angry.

The aroma of grilled

shrimp and tilapia was absent.

Restaurants had few customers

to buy their fresh seafood caught

in the Gulf.

Meanwhile, the Deepwater

Horizon oilrig was engulfed in

flames, and roughly 4.4 million

gallons of oil were spilling into

the Gulf of Mexico.

In addition to stopping the

spill, British Petroleum was

presented with the difficult

challenge of cleaning up its

mess.

“I don’t think they ever did

a good job because they were

so arrogant and wouldn’t listen

to anyone,” said Tony Kennon,

mayor of Orange Beach. “A

smart company would have

reached out to the locals.”

BP told the press and the

public that they would clean up

the oil as quickly as possible. The

response was not immediate. In

fact, it took more than a month

before cleanup efforts began.

BP officials discussed several

solutions. One of the most

effective was a fire boom, a

tool used to contain the spill

while burning oil off the water’s

surface. They were criticized for

not moving fast enough to stop

the spilling and contain the oil.

S o m e

say if BP

had moved

faster, the

spill would

not have

been as

damaging.

While

Piles of seaweed are a reminder of the oil spill./JOHN MCCULLAND

BP spent months attempting

multiple money-saving tactics to

stop the oil flow, fish died, hotel

reservations were cancelled,

local restaurants were empty,

and cities like Orange Beach

were ghost towns.

BP finally realized the severity

of the growing national crisis in

the Gulf and purchased a fire

boom from Elestic/American

Marine. But one wasn’t enough.

In a 2010 interview with

the Mobile Press-Register, a

possibility was presented for

stopping the oil faster. The chief

financial advisor of Elestic, Jeff

Bohleber, said, “A singlefire

SEE ORANGE BEACH PAGE 12

The Wharf ’s ferris wheel in Orange Beach is visitors’ first sight from the Foley Beach Express./MARISSA GAMBOA


Tourism, economic recovery hindered

by misconceptions

The American flag flies over clear skies at Pier Two on the beach in Gulf Shores. / MEGAN GUTER

Two years after the disaster

that spilled millions of

gallons of oil into the Gulf of

Mexico, Orange Beach Mayor

Tony Kennon is still angry due

to the damages caused by BP

and their un-kept promises.

On April 20, 2010, the

Deepwater Horizon drilling

oilrig exploded in the Gulf of

Mexico after a sea-level gushing

leak, killing eleven people. The

oil continued to spew for more

than 100 days, wasting millions

of gallons of oil.

It took 42 days for the oil to

actually start washing up on media claimed that oil was

Orange Beach; however, the already affecting the Gulf the

By John McCulland

A cartoon depicts locals’ attitudes toward

media coverage of the spill./JOHN MCCULLAND

day of the blowout, majorly

affecting the Orange Beach

tourism industry at that time.

The media gave the

impression that the Gulf was

already affected by the oil six to

eight weeks before any oil was

spotted,” Kennon said. “June 1

was the first day oil was spotted.”

Orange Beach’s tourism

industry is their biggest

economic asset, bringing in 95

percent of their income. They

receive over five million tourists

bringing in 2.3 billion dollars

each year. These numbers

dropped 50 percent after the oil

spill.

Many civilians where shocked

at the news of the oil spill but

thought it wouldn’t be a lasting

problem. However, soon local

businesses began to be affected

due to the lack of tourism and

seafood exports because of food

safety concerns.

Not only did it affect

restaurants and other local

businesses, it also affected the

homeowner and real estate

industry.

“It really shut down real

estate,” said Robert Williams,

a Mobile native and former

real estate agent. “Nobody was

buying my houses. I was scared

for my job because of the market

along the beach.”

The media played a major part

in the oil spill. They provided

some useful news, but some

also contributed to the spread of

rumors.

The Gulf seafood is the most

tested in the world,” Kennon

SEE RECOVERY PAGE 7

3


Alabama newspapers face uncertain future after massive cutbacks

4

By Raiha Naeem

For ages, people have

depended on newspapers as a

source of information and daily

news, but with the rapid growth

of technology and the use of the

Internet, printed paper seems to

be going out of fashion.

Newspaper companies in New

Orleans and Alabama recently

announced they would cut back

from a daily paper to only three

News boxes line a sidewalk in Gulf Shores./RAIHA NAEEM

days a week, and focus more on

attracting audiences online.

The Huntsville Times,

Birmingham News and The

Mobile Press Register will enact

the change in the fall of 2012,

but will continue to publish

daily online on al.com.

As a result, fewer reporters are

needed in the newsroom, and a

large portion have been let go.

An environmental reporter

for the Press Register, Ben

Raines, said it

will be a big

change.

“As a

reporter

who began

working when

we still glued

the paper

together with rubber cement,

and literally cut out stories

and pasted them on the page,”

Raines said, “it’s going to be a

big change.”

Bobby Mathews, a freelance

journalist, called cutting down

to three papers a week a mistake.

“Cutting a daily paper back

to thrice weekly is a deathblow,”

he said. “Not only is it a blow to

your readers and advertisers,

it’s also a blow to the journalists

who work at the papers.”

“ Cutting a daily paper back to thrice weekly is


a deathblow.

George Daniels, an assistant

professor in the department of

journalism at the University of

Alabama, said he will miss the

daily newspapers.

“I think that it’s a loss

for Alabama,” he said. “I

look forward to getting the

Birmingham News every

On display at The Mobile Press Register is an

antique printing press./MARIA GLOVER

morning, even though I am a

reader of al.com. In my mind

one does not replace the other.”

Daniels said the quality that

the print newspaper holds

cannot be found online.

“What they have said is that

I am expected to get the same

quality products on a web

page,” he said. “I don’t believe

I will. The printed product and

the product online are not of

the same quality. There is no

comparison.”

Jennifer Patterson, a junior

at UA studying journalism,

said that although she was

disappointed, such changes

were not surprising.

“I’m disheartened because

when I was younger I wanted to

write for a newspaper that came

out everyday,” she said. “It’s a

very competitive field.”

Even with the decrease in

print news, Patterson said she

thinks there is always a place

in journalism for anything

someone is passionate about.

“You have to be very

passionate in what you do, and

I have a passion for journalism,”

she said.

On the topic of the future

of journalism, Daniels said he

thinks the only thing changing

is the medium through which

audiences get their news.

Journalism is not dying,” he

said, “just the platforms that

were traditionally used before.”


lean

The

, mean

fighting

By Megan Guter

and Meaghan Gamboa

Tony Kennon had just entered

the office on the morning of

April 21, 2010, when he was

given the news of the oil spill

in the Gulf of Mexico. British

Petroleum was responsible and

claimed that the oil was flowing

at about 50,000 gallons a day,

but they grossly minimized the

statistics making it seem like a

small problem. The seriousness

of the matter was not realized

until seven days later.

Before becoming mayor of

machine

Orange Beach

Orange Beach, Ala. in August

of 2008, Kennon was a physical

therapist and owned Forever

Young Rehabilitation Services,

located in Orange Beach, and

was the former athletic trainer

for the University of Alabama

football team. Now, since

Kennon has changed his focus

to politics, his skills from the

field help him in times of chaos

in the boardroom.

A powerful man of leadership

on the football field, Kennon

brought those skills to his

political office. But, he was never

Photos record Kennon’s visit with President Obama./ JOHN MCCULLAND

of

truly tested until April of 2010.

“2010 was supposed to be an

amazing year for us,” he said.

After the spill, the media

portrayed the Gulf Coast and

surrounding areas as a toxic

wasteland. According to the

mayor, it was “blown out of

proportion,” even though it was

a chaotic and devastating mess.

“We didn’t have oil out here

until six weeks after we had

supposedly been covered with

it,” said Kennon.

A lot of members of the

Orange Beach community

Two years later, Mayor Tony Kennon continues to

speak out against Big Oil

and surrounding areas were

outraged with BP for not

helping enough with the clean

up efforts and lying to the public

about how much oil was actually

affecting the waters.

The serenity prayer ain’t just

on your mama’s wall,” he said.

Kennon may have used the

serenity prayer to keep himself

calm; others on the other

hand, not so much. Restaurant

employee Chase Valentine

was pleased with the mayor’s

accomplishments during the

chaos of the oil spill.

“He made everyone that

lives here come together,” said

Valentine.

His co-worker, Jordan Thayer,

felt the same way.

“Even when things died down,

Mayor Kennon never stopped

helping us,” she said.

From that point on, citizens

say he seemed to have the

resolve to do all that he could

to ensure that the disaster was

made right by those who were

responsible. He went above and

Photo by JOHN MCCULLAND

beyond what many believe to

be the call of duty for his parttime

job as mayor and worked

round the clock, meeting with

everyone from BP executives to

citizens to President Obama.

During the crisis, he lent the

people of Orange Beach an ear to

express their personal hardships

that came about as a result of

the spill. Most importantly to

his community, he stood up as a

leader who cared.

5


MoreFun in the Sun

By Marissa Gamboa

With students out for summer vacation, Gulf Shores is crowded with tourists. /MARISSA GAMBOA

6

Lawmakers hope longer summer vacation for

Ala. students will increase tourism on the Gulf

Alabama students are getting

two extra weeks of summer

vacation.

The Alabama State

Legislature has decided to

provide an additional two

weeks to the state school

system’s summer vacation,

hoping to boost tourism on

the Coast. The decision was

enacted this summer.

Tourism in Alabama has

Hangout Music Festival draws more than 100,000 visitors to

the Gulf Coast every summer./MARISSA GAMBOA

dipped drastically since the

2010 oil spill, and lawmakers

have recently attempted to

remedy the problem, by

adjusting the schedule. Now

parents will have to make

adjustments to this plan.

The economic downturn

had a large affect on state

tourism and throughout the

country. Many families have

forgone vacations all together

and have

opted to

instead find

alternatives,

such as local

camps.

“ T h e

additional

two weeks

have been

popular

w i t h

students and teachers who have

been given more time to make

additional plans,” said Leslie

Bruinton, public relations

coordinator for Tuscaloosa

City Schools. Parents, she said,

may not be as thrilled.

“Many families will not be

traveling to Gulf Shores or

other vacation spots in the

state as legislators hoped,”

Bruinton said. “Instead they

will be finding additional

childcare for their children.”

The Gulf Coast is a unique

tourist spot. The regional food,

tightly knit communities,

beautiful weather, gorgeous

beaches and many attractions

are referenced by tourism

websites that call the region

one of the most beautiful spots

in the Southeast, yet somewhat

secluded compared to popular

vacation spots such as Los

Angeles and Miami.

The region’s family-friendly

atmosphere has made it a

popular vacation spot among

Alabamaians, who make up

the majority of the tourism

population.

“About five million tourists

come every year from early

March through Labor Day,”

said one Gulf Shores lifeguard.

Tourist favorites like

Souvenir City, famous for its

giant shark’s mouth entrance,

and The Hangout, site of

the popular Hangout Music

Festival, have kept many

coming back year after year.

“I brought my family back

after coming here as a kid,” said

one member of a vactioning

family from Ft. Oglethorpe,

Ga. “It is just as beautiful and

has just as many attractions as

other cities.” said one member

of a vactioning family from Ft.

Oglethorpe, Ga.

It will not be until the third

quarter report of the year that

the state will know whether

the legislative plan succeeded.


Hurricane Ivan vs. The Deep Horizon Oil Spill

By Kelly Hilbish

Natural disasters, such as

powerful hurricanes, can be

devastating to a community, but

may actually help in the long

run. Human disasters, such as

the Gulf oil spill, have very little

long-term benefits, experts said.

Hurricane Ivan hit Orange

Beach in September 2004,

reaching 130 mph winds. It

destroyed condominiums,

restaurants and homes. The

storm killed only one person in

Alabama, but left damage to the

tune of $439 million.

The hurricane also claimed

the life of sea animals; however,

Henry Lazauski, an Auburn

University graduate with a Ph.D.

in Fisheries Biology, explains

how hurricanes are eventually

good for the environment.

“It is ironic that all this death

is the seed for the new growth

that comes after a hurricane,”

Lazauski said. “Nutrients that

were not usable in the mud

bottom are recycled into the

ecosystem along with those

from dead fish. The debris that

is washed into the Bay forms

artificial reefs and adds to the

productivity of the coastal

ecosystems. Life comes from

“We are living on this planet

as if we had another one to go to.”

–Terri Swearingen

death in the biological world.”

The 2010 BP oil spill covered

the Gulf of Mexico with

pollutants, killing thousands

of sea animals. The Deepwater

Horizon rig explosion caused

the worst oil spill in U.S.

history, killing eleven people.

By September 2010, five months

after the oil spill, the total costs

had added up to $10 billion. The

loss of tourism crushed Orange

Beach’s economy.

Mayor Tony Kennon said it

was clear which disaster was the

most devastating: “The oil spill

by a million.”

After a direct hit from

Hurricane Ivan, “within two

months we were pretty much

back in business,” he said. “There

is no comparison to 100 days of

oil coming out of the ground at

you and not knowing if it is ever

going to stop.”

BP took five months to clean

up the beach. Ben Raines, an

environmental journalist for

the Mobile Press-Register, said

that people are still hurting and

trying to get back on their feet.

Hurricane Ivan was a natural

disaster, while the oil spill

resulted from human error.

Consequences from the spill

could alter aquatic life in the

Gulf forever.

The oil spill devastated our

island,” Kennon said. “For three

months, there was talk of totally

evacuating.”

The aftermath of Hurricane

Ivan was huge; however, Orange

Beach recovered faster after the

hurricane than they have after

the oil spill two years later. Oil

is still buried beneath the sand,

and nobody knows whether it

will drastically affect the Gulf

several years from now. Getting

rid of the oil completely is

impossible, because there is no

known way to do it. It is still

possibile the oil spill could be

affecting the Gulf Coast 20 years

from now.

FROM RECOVERY PAGE 3

both toxic and can cause many

health problems. The media

claims that even walking along

the coastline can cause heart

and respiratory problems. They

thought it necessary to evacuate

most of the Gulf.”

These rumors may have been

a contributing factor as to why

Orange Beach lost so many of

their five million tourists.

There is a lot more to the oil

spill than most of the public is

aware of. A possible explanation,

unknown to many, is that BP

skipped many necessary safety

regulations. The drilling process

was rushed, and because

BP failed to recognize those

precautions, it cost cities around

the Gulf millions of dollars, and

it cost 11 people their lives.

“BP lied from day one about

how much oil escaped per day,”

Kennon said. “They claimed

50,000 gallons a day, when it

was really over two million.”

Orange Beach also gave BP

options to cleanup the oil on

their beaches by digging up

the beach with tractors and

removing the oil, but BP refused

because it was too expensive.

Instead, BP scraped up the oil

from the surface of the beach

and the water, temporarily

removing the appearance of the

oil. It took BP nine months to

finally use Orange Beach’s plan,

and by using their original plan,

the oil was gone within a month.

Despite BP’s failure to

follow through with necessary

safety precautions and assist

productively with the cleanup

process, the people of Orange

Beach are on their way to a

full recovery after nearly five

months of cleanup. The citizens

of Orange Beach played a major

part in the repair. Churches,

nurseries and local businesses

donated time and money to

clean the beach, and concerts by

various bands, such as The Dave

Matthews Band, and the Red

Hot Chili Peppers, brought back

tourists to Orange Beach.

7


8

The giant shark entrance

is what separates Souvenir

City from the dozens of other

souvenir shops in Gulf Shores.

Located near The Hangout, the

shark has become an icon to

beach-goers.

Susan Herrington grew up

near Gulf Shores, and said the

shark was a landmark for her.

“It meant that we had finally

made it to the beach,” she said.

“I either bought a surfer’s cross

or a shell necklace.”

Souvenir City has been around

since 1956. It was the owner,

Paul Johnson, who had the idea

of a shark at the entrance. His

brother-in-law, Mark Royster,

said Johnson found inspiration

at a golf course in Tennessee.

“Everything inspires him and

By Alex Hauser

Souvenir City separates itself from other souvenir shops in Gulf Shores with its famous shark entrance./MARISSA GAMBOA

Iconic shark attracts new

generation of tourists

he loves to build,” Royster said.

At first, a smaller shark was

positioned above the entrance,

which Herrington said she

recalled being pink.

“If not for the shark, it would

just be another souvenir store,”

she said.

But in 1987, the original

building burned down.

“After the fire, [Johnson]

thought of the giant

shark entrance. It

used to play the Jaws

theme song, but was

taken away after it

was destroyed by

Hurricane Ivan,”

Royster said.

In 2004,

Hurricane Ivan

hit the Gulf,

washing away

several businesses.

Souvenir City was

flooded with four

feet of water and the

shark was wrecked.

“It took us two

weeks until we

could get in the

building and start

cleaning,” Royster

said.

The family

brought in

equipment from

their six warehouses

in Foley.

“We just brought

in the machinery

and pushed

everything out,”

Royster said. “We took out four

loads of stuff.”

Royster said the shark had

to be repaired and repainted.

Souvenir City reopened Feb. 26,

2011 right before Spring Break.

Herrington said the shark an

icon, at least to her.

“Just knowing I am almost to

my favorite place in the world,”

she said.


Gulf Coast reporter exposes true scale of BP disaster

By Kiah McIsaac

On April 20, 2010, the

Deepwater Horizon oil deck

exploded, killing 11 people and

spilling a continuous stream

of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Soon the Gulf Coast was feeling

the full effects of the disaster.

Ben Raines spent that time

on his boat, talking to the

people affected by the spill and

collecting their stories.

Raines, an environmental

journalist for the Mobile Press-

Register, rose to prominence

by exposing inaccuracies in

a government report on the

amount of oil pouring into the

Gulf.

While the report claimed

that 50,000 gallons of oil was

spouting into the Gulf, Raines

discovered, through a friend’s

accidental letter, that it was

actually 2 to 4 million gallons

boiling into the sea each day.

An email attachment publicized

in a congressional hearing later

confirmed his findings.

Raines’ emergence as an

environmental reporter was a

journey and a personal odyssey.

As a child, he said he wanted to

be a marine biologist, but those

plans changed.

Raines majored in film in

college before starting his

journalism career on a local

nightly news show. But he said

the job was not a good fit, and

soon Raines and his family were

on their way to Florida.

They settled in Orlando where

Raines worked as a newspaper


People still hurting;

environment

not so bad


clerk in order to support his

wife and year-old son. During

this time, Raines came across a

pool of water that he said just

seemed different.

His editor allowed

him to write an

article about the

water, which

he praised. But

the praise was

double-edged.

Raines was

told he would

have to go work

somewhere else

if he wanted to

continue to write

articles because

he wasn’t allowed

to write and be a

clerk at the same

time. Because of

his experience at

his first reporting job, Raines’

advice for aspiring journalists

is simple: “Learn how to work

a video camera. Learn how to

write, and learn how to shoot

photos.”

During the BP disaster, Raines

and Doug Suttles, vice president

of public relations and the public

face for British Petroleum,

faced off in several encounters.

Following a helicopter ride,

Raines tried to question Suttles

on BP’s plan of action, but

Suttles was immediately led

away from questioning.

Because of repeated

encounters with Raines, a

barricade was enacted to prevent

Raines from getting near BP’s

boats. As a way of protest, his

boat flew a pirate’s flag alerting

the BP personnel where he was

heading, leading to chases along

the Coast.

Raines said if he were to

create a headline about the Gulf

oil spill two years later, it would

read, “People still hurting;

environment not so bad.”

eco-journalist with a cause

Raines tackles tough issues for his community, when he’s not fishing on his boat.

9


10

Politicians, citizens face rocky road to recovery

By Kim Nnorom

When disaster strikes, the

victims are left with many

difficult decisions in the

aftermath. How will I get money

for the mortgage? How will I be

able to buy milk and bread for

my family?

“Humility gets you further in

life.”

These words are the reflection

of Mayor Tony Kennon of

Orange Beach on his efforts after

the BP oil spill that occurred

April 20, 2010. Communities

all along the Gulf of Mexico,

stretching from Texas to

Florida, were affected by the

disaster, both emotionally and

financially.

Citizens were forced to come

together to help one another

in order to help themselves.

Churches and musical artists

hosted fundraisers and donated

money to those in dire need of

Mayor Kennon speaks to students about the oil spill./KIM NNOROM

A young beach-goer plays on the oil-free beach in Gulf Shores.

assistance.

Political leaders were put in

a tough, demanding position.

They had to devise ways to

handle the destruction to the

infrastructure as well as to the

individuals.

Kennon, who

said he believes

in drilling in the

Gulf, set up town

hall meetings for

local citizens to

comment and ask

questions about

recovery efforts.

He describes

his efforts to get

money from BP

as urgent.

With the

help of political

leaders and local

organizations,

people were able

to gain a sense of

reassurance and

hope.

“Political leaders

are helping, and

cleanup is pretty

fast,” said Chase

Valentine, a local

resident from the

Mobile area.

In 2010, Kennon

wanted BP to give

money to the

businesses before

local employees.

However, BP decided to give

money to individuals, such as

restaurant employees, first.

Kennon’s plan for BP’s

reimbursements caused an

uproar after the oil spill. Many

citizens accused Kennon of

having secretly stolen money

from the fund that was supposed

to be for the victims who filed

claims against BP.

According to online sources

at floridaoilspilllaw.com, the

mayor had no empathy for

those affected. They claim his

speeches encouraging help be

brought to the Gulf Coast were

all for political gain.

Kennon said his approach

made sense from a business

perspective. Helping the victims

would come, but with time. He

said some citizens spent money

too lavishly, making it difficult

for claims to be processed.

In an interview with Fox

News in March 2011, Kennon

changed the perception of his

initial efforts saying, “What we

expect now is for them to make

my economy whole, because

that’s what’s hurting, the folks

who live here.”

Not long after the two-year

anniversary of the tragic oil spill

in the Gulf of Mexico, the city of

Orange Beach and surrounding

areas have come together as

one strong, united community.

They wanted normalcy in their

lives again, no matter what their

opinion of Mayor Kennon and

other political leaders.


Back in the Habit

When traveling through

the Mobile Bay area, it is easy

to see why the state’s motto is

“Alabama the Beautiful.” The

area is surrounded by cool water

that looks refreshing and is filled

with brightly colored buildings,

friendly faces and southern

hospitality.

However, in the spring of

2010, the full beauty of the

area could not be displayed

due to the massive oil spill. Yet

two years after the oil spill, the

area is still home to memorable

family vacations.

After the oil spill, many

began leaving the area quickly.

According to Orange Beach

mayor, Tony Kennon, “Even

though no oil appeared on the

beach for six weeks, the media

gave the impression that the

entire Gulf was covered in oil,

in return hurting our local

economy and residents.”

Reservations were cancelled

and vacationing families already

in the area headed to Florida

and Texas. When the beach, one

of the area’s main attractions,

suffered so did the surrounding

tourists sites.

While the oil spill was

devastating, there has been

some positive outcomes. Mayor

Kennon said he used his time on

television to his advantage.

“Being on television evoked

sympathy and people

from all over the

country came to the

area just to help [us]

out,” he said.

Now the economy

in the surrounding

area has almost fully

recovered.

“In fact, we are

breaking records,”

Kennon said. “People

now know that the area

is family-oriented,

protected, has sugarwhite

beaches and

paved roads.”

Besides the beach,

tourists will discover

that the Mobile Bay

area is rich in history

with museums and

historic monuments

that can further

educate visitors about

the broad range of

history and culture in

the area.

Mayor Kennon tries

to encourage visitors

to come enjoy the

beaches and history

of the Alabama

Gulf Coast with the

assurance that there is

something in the area

for everyone.

“We host concerts at our new

10,000 feet amphitheater, and

Two years after the oil spill,

the Mobile Bay area

shines brighter than ever

By Maria Glover

Defining the Downtown Mobile skyline, the RSA Battle House Tower is the tallest building

in Alabama./KELLY HILBISH

The USS Alabama Battleship has had more

than 13 million visitors since opening in 1965.

all of the restaurants are familyfriendly

and delicious. A local

family owns the restaurants and

[our] seafood is the most tested.”

Kennon proudly states that the

seafood in the Gulf of Mexico is

better than that elsewhere and

is, by far, the freshest.

Popular tourist sites in the area

include the USS Alabama, the

Gulf Coast Science Theater and

IMAX Theater. It also has quite

a few things to do for those who

enjoy the outdoors and like to

experience the feel of the water.

Whether it is visiting animals

at the zoo, fishing, sailing,

canoeing, kayaking, walking

through the city or one of its

many museums, or enjoying

a nice day on the beach, the

Mobile Bay area has once again

claimed its title as a place where

memories can be made and the

whole family can enjoy.

11


12

Interview with Tony Kennon,

Mayor of Orange Beach, Alabama

By Melvin Smith

Q

A

Q

A

Q

A

Since the oil spill what has the fish industry done to inspect

the seafood?

The health and safety of the seafood from the Gulf of Mexico

is the most tested seafood in the world. No one has a better

handle on what safety on what’s coming out of our gulf right

now.”

Is it safe to eat seafood from the Gulf?

“I would rather eat anything out of the Gulf than ever eat

foreign-raised fished Vietnamese catfish or shrimp that aren’t

tested.”

(Mayor Kennon added that a biologist visited the Gulf and said

they look for mutations in fish by Looking for mutations in

samples and through tissue samples of fish.)

Have there been a decrease of fish from 2010 to now?

“I haven’t seen any changes honestly possibly a decline in white

shrimp but that could have been in the area I was sampling.”

Compleat Angler at The Wharf serves fresh Gulf seafood daily./KELLY HILBISH

A mother and son play on clean beaches on the Gulf./JOHN MCCULLAND

FROM ORANGE BEACH PAGE 2

boom being towed by two boats

can burn up to 1,800 barrels

of oil a day. That translates to

75,000 gallons an hour, making

the possibility that the spill

could have been contained 100

miles off shore.”

Two years later, the mayor

and citizens of Orange Beach

still harbor some bitterness.

“I don’t like them,” Kennon

said. “They still haven’t done

what they said they were going

to do. I asked the CEO to come

to our town meeting to just say

‘sorry,’ and he wouldn’t even

acknowledge my request.”

Kennon also feels BP was too

protective of its money.

They don’t owe us anything

in their mind,” he said. “They

saw us as a bunch of scams and

thieves.”

BP has been protested

throughout the South for its

handling of the spill and their

lack of initiative in cleaning

up the beach. Many share

the sentiment expressed by

a Mobile-area BP gas station

worker. Protesting BP won’t fix

the Gulf ’s problems.

Today

It is now 2012, and the tancolored

beaches in Alabama are

slowly climbing back to normal.

The Orange Beach community

claims the city is back to normal

due to local efforts, not because

of BP. A community joined

together to help clean a problem

that it didn’t even start in order

to make the community whole.

Families are now vacationing,

kids are running and jumping in

the water, and teens are playing

volleyball in the grainy sand.

Local restaurants are out of

seats as people pile in to get

fresh seafood from the Gulf.

Orange Beach is back.


The Multicultural Journalism

Workshop is one of my favorite

events each year. This year, a group

of talented and enthusiastic students

traveled from across the country to the

University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa

for the Alabama Scholastic Press

Association’s annual event.

The purpose of MJW is to give high

school students an experience that

teaches them about college life and

a career in media. They learn about

everything from news reporting and

interviewing to photography and multimedia skills.

The program is free, thanks to generous supporters such as

the Dow Jones News Fund and UA’s Center for Community-

Based Partnerships. The University supplies housing, meals and

field trips, as well as top-notch, intensive instruction by industry

professionals.

Each year, MJW travels to a different part of Alabama to explore

not only the fun tourist spots, but also cover hard-hitting news

stories happening in the area at the time. In 2011, MJW was

supposed to travel to the Gulf, but instead stayed in Tuscaloosa

to cover the aftermath of the devastating

tornadoes that ripped through Alabama in

April of 2011.

This year, students traveled to the

Gulf Coast to uncover what life is like in

the area two years after the Deepwater

Horizon oil spill. They learned how

tourism has bounced back, how the

seafood industry is still affected and how

locals are still coping with the aftermath.

Mayor of Orange Beach, Tony Kennon, a

UA fan and former football team trainer,

spoke candidly with the students about his

experiences with media from around the

world and the enormous task of helping

his community bounce back.

As the students interviewed Mayor

Kennon, I was struck by the similarities

between the Tuscaloosa tornado and

the Gulf Coast oil spill in how and what

people in those communities had to deal with after the fact.

In both places, tourism is struggling and citizens and

governments are working to dispel myths. In both places people

are frustrated and there is a sense of wanting to move on, but

obstacles are in the way.

Yet what moved me the most was how, in both places, a true

sense of community spirit pervades. The overriding sentiment is

that –after oil spills and tornadoes – people are good. People are

willing to help. People are proud of their communities.

I am proud of the students who worked very hard – some

without any experience – and produced the newspaper you now

hold, as well as an accompanying website. They did a dizzying

amount of work in just 10 days, and we are proud of the MJW

Class of 2012.

Next year marks the 30th anniversary of MJW. We can’t wait to

see what the next class can do!

Sincerely,

Meredith Cummings

Director, Multicultural Journalism Program

University of Alabama Journalism Department

MJW Class of 2012

Bryant-Denny Stadium, UA

13


Contributors

14

Maria Glover is a

recent graduate of

Booker T. Washington

Magnet High School

in Montgomery where

she was involved in

the Creative Writing

Magnet since her

freshman year.

Maria was an active

member of Bridge

Builders Alabama, the

Student Government

Association,

Volunteers in Action

and the National

French Honor Society.

She enjoys reading,

writing, shopping

and volunteering.

Maria plans to

major in speech

communication and

education.

Kim Nnorom is a junior at Bob Jones High School in

Madison, Ala. She participates in her school’s Key Club and

National Honor Society and hopes to become a member of

her school’s yearbook. She is interested in becoming a sports

journalist, eventually working at ESPN. In her spare time, she

likes to write poetry and short pieces of music.

Raiha Naeem, a senior at Northridge

High School, moved to Tuscaloosa three

years ago from Pakistan and took up

journalism her freshman year of high

school. Since then, she has stayed busy

working for her school newspaper, taking

on the positions of opinion editor and

business manager. Even though her life’s

ambition is to learn how to tie a cherry knot with her tongue, the

task seems too impossible at the moment so she’ll settle for for

pursuing a career in journalism.

Marissa Gamboa is a senior at Covenant Christian Ministries

Academy in Marietta, Ga. She has worked as a writer and

photographer for her school newspaper

and yearbook club for several years.

She also makes documentaries for

various contests, one of which was

published in the Library of Congress.

She is excited about graduating this

upcoming year.

Alex Hauser is a senior at Northridge High School in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

She was Quill and Scroll president and editor-in-chief of the school

newspaper, The Northridge Reporter, where the paper was awarded

first place best-of-show at the National Scholastic Press Association fall

convention in Minneapolis, Minn. She will return as editor next year

and will be working hard on scholarships to go to college out of state.

She plans to double major in journalism and education.

Megan Guter

is a sophomore

at Metairie Park

Country Day School,

in Metairie, La. Next

year she is looking

forward to becoming

an active member of

her school’s literary

magazine and year

book club. She is

a cheerleader and

member of the

Greater New Orleans

Youth Orchestra and

the Country Day

Orchestra. In her

spare time, she enjoys

creative writing and

playing golf.


Goldine Saintil, a senior at at Golden Gate Gate High School,

was born and raised in Naples, Fla. One of four kids, she has

enjoyed singing and dancing her

whole life. Her goal is to attend college

and own her own fashion magazine.

Goldine hopes to win a Nobel Peace

Prize for helping the world become a

better place. Winning a Grammy for

her singing would be an added bonus.

John “Jay”

McCulland, a

sophomore at Fayette

County High School,

was born and raised

in Fayetteville, GA.

He is a member of

the Future Business

Leaders of America

and a performer at

the Youth Ensemble

of Atlanta. Jay is

also a well-rounded

actor, speaker and

communicator. He

enjoys playing his

guitar and piano

and aspires to be a

reporter, news anchor

or photographer.

Kiah McIsaac,

a senior at

Cordova

High School

in Memphis,

Tenn. She has

always been

an avid writer

and recently became a protégé in

photography. When she is not writing,

Kiah enjoys time with her family

(including two Miniature Dachshunds),

reading, and and watching out for

butterflies.

Meaghan Gamboa is a sophomore at Covenant

Christian Ministries Academy in Marietta, Ga.

She is a part of the volleyball team, National

Honor Society, chorus, yearbook and school

newsletter. Although she is considering a number

of future career paths, currently she is interested

in neuroscience.

Melvin Smith is a freshman at Dutchtown

High School in Atlanta, Ga. He plays

basketball for the county, track and field for

his school, and plays on back-to-back county

champion football team for Dutchtown High.

Beside sports, Melvin

is also interested in

print journalism. He

would like to study

journalism in college

with a master’s in

sports medicine. —

ROLL TIDE!

Kenneth Harris is a senior at Sparkman High School in Harvest,

Ala. He has always had a love for sports and plans on majoring in

broadcast journalism. Kenneth also works

at a radio station where he produces and

co-hosts the afternoon sports show, “The

Sports Asylum.” He is a huge Miami Heat

and Missouri Tigers fan, but plans to

attend UA. He wants to work for ESPN

and possibly argue with Skip Bayless.

—Roll Tide!!!

Maya Everett is

a junior at Leeds

High School with

the personality

of a beauty

queen and the

aspirations of

an innovator.

While only 16, Maya is an accomplished

philanthropist, a frequently practicing

optimist and a Christian. As of this year,

Maya will be serving as her school paper’s

chief editor throughout the rest of her

high school career. In the future, she

plans to major in broadcast journalism

and earn her title as a true journalist.

Maacah Davis, recent graduate

of Oak Mountain High School in

Birmingham, joined the newspaper

after transferring from the Alabama

School of Fine Arts, where she was

a creative writing major. She is an

avid reader, writer, filmmaker and

food enthusiast who hopes to one

day excel in

a career that

embraces

all of her

creative and

journalistic

talent.

Elizabeth “Kelly”

Hilbish is is a

Mexican-American

who recently

graduated from Holy

Spirit Catholic High

School. She composed

her senior class motto:

“It only takes ONE

class TWO make a

difference,” which she

and her classmates

lived up to by

volunteering after the

Tuscaloosa tornado.

Kelly strongly

believes that one

individual can make

a difference in the

world. Her passions

are writing and layout

design. Her greatest

aspirations are to

attend the University

of Alabama and

become a magazine

editor.

15


The Multicultural Journalism Program would not be possible without the

following financial supporters

Alabama Press Association •

Boone Newspapers, Inc. •

Dow Jones News Fund •

Mercedes-Benz Endowment •

National Education Association Foundation •

Selma Times Journal

UA Center for Community Based Partnerships •

UA College of Communication and Information Sciences •

UA Department of Journalism •

Thank you to contributors of the Multicultural Journalism Program endowment

The Estate of John Brooken Gaines

and Marci and Louis Henna Jr.

And thank you to the following for their time and support

al.com

The Crimson White

Dr. Loy Singleton, Dean, CIS

Dr. Jennifer Greer, Chair, Department of Journalism

Paul Wright and the Office of Student Media

Marie Parsons, ASPA Director Emeritus

Tina Benson

Phyllus Dunivant

Jennifer Guffin

Brett Hudson

Matt Conde

Slate Goodwin

Breanna Thackerson

The Birmingham News

Birmingham Magazine

The Mobile Press Register

The Huntsville Times

The Tuscaloosa News

The Montgomery Advertiser

Crechale Stevens

Cecilia Hammond

Brooke Carbo

Jody and Greg Evans

Pamela Banks

Breion Palmer

Laura Parker














The MJP Journal

is produced by the

Multicultural Journalism

Workshop participants.

The workshop is offered

each summer to a select

group of outstanding

high school students

with an interest in

media in a multicultural

society. This program is

a service provided by the

Department of Journalism

at University of Alabama

in cooperation with the

Alabama Scholastic Press

Association.

16

See more from the Multicultural Journalism Workshop class of 2012

uamjw2012.wordpress.com

jn.ua.edu

aspa.ua.edu

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