About me

Hey y’all. I’m Beth Shelburne, an investigative reporter, journalist and writer based in Birmingham, Alabama. Some of you might know me from twitter where I give updates about Alabama’s unconstitutional prisons, which I’ve been reporting on for over a decade.

I have a lot more to say and write, not just about our nation’s mass incarceration crisis, but about the amazing people I have gotten to know through my work. I also plan to write more about the work itself, telling the truth and the cost that comes with that.

So what is the subject of this newsletter? Alabama prisons, writing and baking cakes? Creativity, curiosity and hiking? Womanhood, media and the subversive joy of saying fuck with a southern accent? Perhaps we can expect all of the above. I will not put any of this content behind a paywall, but paid subscribers help support my work. I am grateful to anyone who reads what I write and thank all my subscribers, both paid and unpaid.

For 20 years, I worked as a TV news anchor and reporter, but much of it felt like living someone else’s life, wearing a costume and mask while striving hard to convince myself it was my own body and face. I’ve gone through an incredible evolution in the last four years, one that started when my career almost killed me, but thankfully I survived to arrive at a life that feels entirely and authentically mine. Interestingly, it was getting proximate to people in prison that gave me the courage to unlock my own cage.

I’ve thought many times about self-publishing a blog, but at the end of each serious consideration, I backed away in fear, and crouched back over my notebook, wrapping my arm around it so no one could read the words I’d written. I am now 47-years old and still a work in progress, but trying to make friends with my brain and get it all down on the page. I want to bring you closer to the issues and people I write about. With proximity comes understanding, empathy and change.

As writer Elizabeth Gilbert says, we are all just beginners and we will die beginners. I hope you’ll join me as I begin this venture, and try to figure it out. I’m not yet sure how often I will publish, but at least once a week and hopefully with insight, thought and meaning.

I’ve published reported essays about mass incarceration in Facing South, The Daily Beast, The Bitter Southerner and the Los Angeles Times. I currently work as an investigative reporter with Alabama’s Campaign for Smart Justice and I’m hard at work on an upcoming 8-part investigative podcast about the wrongful conviction of Toforest Johnson, who is currently on Alabama’s death row.

I enjoy reading, writing, hiking and baking and my thoughts on all those things (and more!) will likely end up here. To learn more about my work you can visit my website www.bethshelburne.com. If you want to get in touch with me my best email is bethshelburne1974@gmail.com.

To find out more about the company that provides the tech for this newsletter, visit Substack.com.

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Alabama, mass incarceration, writing, life


Beth Shelburne

Journalist, writer, investigative reporter. Heart attack survivor. Mama & wife, pal to assorted humans. Mostly brave except with roaches.