If you would like to contact Tread or Lee Hedgepeth with a story tip, question, or concern, please e-mail reportingbylee@gmail.com. Thank you!

What is Tread?

Tread is a newsletter of original reporting and photography produced by myself, Lee Hedgepeth, an experienced investigative journalist and storyteller based in Birmingham, Alabama.

When you read Tread, you won’t be getting yesterday’s news. You won’t be reading press releases or the latest talking points from politicians. Instead, you’ll be getting thorough, on-the-ground reporting by a journalist focused on providing a platform for the voices of those individuals often left out of the South’s story.

Here’s a concrete example.

When snow fell on Birmingham in the first days of 2022, Rentle Lee Wilson was left out in the cold. The City of Birmingham said that Boutwell Auditorium had been “unavailable” as a warming center, a reality that left individuals facing homelessness – folks like Wilson – without a place to keep warm.

In the time before and since that snowfall, I’ve worked to tell the story of Wilson and those like him, documenting the experiences of individuals often left out of the story of the U.S. South.

Rentle Lee Wilson stands in front of Boutwell Auditorium, which was “unavailable” as a warming station as snow fell in the city. (Photo by Lee Hedgepeth)

That’s what you’ll get when you subscribe to Tread: well-researched, thoughtful journalism and photography covering communities across the U.S. South, particularly in Alabama, my home state.

Tread by Lee Hedgepeth is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber by entering your e-mail below.

Who is Lee Hedgepeth?

I’m an investigative journalist currently based in Birmingham, Alabama. I grew up in Grand Bay, Alabama, a small town in south Mobile County.

I hold a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of South Alabama and two master’s degrees — one in community journalism from the University of Alabama and another from Tulane University in political development.

I have more than a decade of journalism experience, most recently as a digital investigative reporter at CBS 42, a local television station covering central Alabama. Before that, I worked for news outlets including Alabama Political Reporter, Lagniappe Weekly, and the Anniston Star, writing about subjects ranging from impeachments to executions.

Lee Hedgepeth

Throughout the years, my work has been repeatedly cited by national outlets including the New York Times and the Washington Post, among others. My journalism has been syndicated to over a hundred television stations and newspapers across the country. I’ve also published freelance reporting and photography in outlets including NOLA.com, the New Statesman, and Times Higher Education.

In my time as a journalist, I’ve developed meaningful connections across the region that have allowed me the opportunity to highlight the stories of people like Erica Connell, the mother of Keleen Connell, a 27-year-old shot and killed by Birmingham police.

I’ve had the honor of sitting down with people like Hattie Collins, who waited for hours to see Vice President Kamala Harris speak in Selma.

And I’ve been able to earn the trust of folks like Martha Menefield, who I was the first journalist to interview after the 82-year-old was arrested over an unpaid trash bill in Valley, Alabama.

I’m also committed to thorough, person-focused coverage of the death penalty in Alabama.

If you’d like to learn more about the kind of journalism I produce, check out the post below about some of the stories that have shaped me.

Tread by Lee Hedgepeth
The stories we tell
As I start to look forward to reporting here on Tread with your support, I’ve taken some time to reflect back on the stories I’ve reporte…
Read more

Why subscribe?

Simply put, you won’t see reporting like Tread’s anywhere else.

Subscribing gets you access to Tread in your e-mail inbox. As social media algorithms have made it more difficult to get news to those who want it, subscribing through e-mail is the best way to get full access to the newsletter and website. Never miss an update.

Tread by Lee operates on a “pay what you can” basis.

When you sign up for Tread, you will receive all our content at no cost to you. Without your financial help, however, Tread would not be able to produce the quality original journalism you’ll receive in your e-mail inbox.

Not everyone can afford to give, so if you can, sign up for a paid subscription at whatever level you feel comfortable to help support the newsletter for everyone.

You can also make a one-time donation by clicking here.

Subscribe to Tread by Lee Hedgepeth

Tread is a newsletter devoted to publishing unflinching journalism from the heart of the South.


I’m an investigative journalist based in Birmingham, AL. I hold a bachelor’s in political science from the University of South Alabama and master's degrees in community journalism and political development from Alabama and Tulane, respectively.