Tribute to the James Brown of Alabama Journalism

They called James Brown “the hardest working man in show business.”  Now an Alabama journalist and friend of mine who has written more than 50,000 news stories in his career has been dubbed “the hardest working man in the news business” by reporter John Archibard in the Birmingham News this month.

I was delighted to see this tribute because Al Benn was also one of my late husband Tim Robinson’s closest friends in journalism.  And this young Jewish kid from Pennsylvania Amish country was also my husband’s roommate when Tim was the youngest UPI reporter covering the civil rights movement out of the Birmingham office. Tim, the son of a southern Baptist preacher, was in his late teens when the pair covered some of the greatest stories of the 60s, including the Selma march.   Al was in his 20s and had just served six years in the U.S. Marines.

I first met Al when UPI held a reunion for its Alabama correspondents, which included recreating the Selma march.  It was a highlight of my marriage and introduced me to some of the bravest journalists I will ever know, including Al and the Birmingham bureau chief Tony Heffernan, UPI photographer Joe Chapman and many more.

Al’s profile can be read online at


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