By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Last Friday, an email notification was sent alerting politicos that a new media company called The Alabama Daily News was coming to Alabama. The goal, according to its newsletter, is to provide much needed, “quality news content, smart analysis, and needed commentary on Alabama politics on a daily basis.”
According to several insiders, the Business Council of Alabama’s Billy Canary and his compadres are behind the move, which is decidedly anti-Sen. Richard Shelby and Alabama Power.
This new site is being headed by Todd Stacy, who made his political bones serving former Gov. Bob Riley and rose to prominence under convicted felon former Speaker Mike Hubbard. Stacy began his work in politics as a spokesperson for Riley and would serve as Hubbard’s communications chief until he joined U.S Congresswoman Martha Roby’s staff in 2012, just as the criminal investigation into Hubbard’s illicit activities was heating up. Stacy is giving up nearly $90,000 annually in congressional salary in hopes aldailynews.com will be,”the state’s first-click destination for knowing and understanding the political news of the day,” according to his postings.
Stacy, in his first official offering of the New Year, said he will, “break down the most important stories of the day with some insight on what it all means.” He is also soliciting tips from his readers requesting they be, “active participant[s] by drawing my attention to important stories, whether they’ve been written or not.”
Stacy says launching a news site was a recent idea. However, the domain registry for aldailynews.com, according to Whois, dates back to June 2008, and was only recently updated on Dec. 30, 2017. The domain is registered by proxy, so the owner is not publicly identified. APR was also unable to locate any registration for the business with the Alabama Secretary of State.
According to several sources within Montgomery’s political upper echelon, Stacy will be the front man for those who once prompted up Yellowhammer News. “The folks that enabled Hubbard no longer trust Yellowhammer to carry their water, and they need someone they can rely on,” said a veteran political operative who asked to remain anonymous.
Lately, Yellowhammer has strayed from its original mission, even drawing criticism from its former boss.
Recently, Yellowhammer founder, Cliff Sims, took to social media to bemoan the fate of his former news product.
“Alabama’s tumultuous election cycle has compelled a lot of folks to message me about Yellowhammer News’ coverage, particularly of the U.S. Senate race,” Sims wrote. “In order to take a job in The White House, I had to sell my stake in Yellowhammer, so I no longer have any say over its content. That being said, I still care a lot about it — it was my baby for a long time! — and I think it played an important role in shaping the political and cultural debate in the state we all love.” Adding, “I share many of your frustrations and concerns about the direction of the site’s content.” Sims further laments, “There’s not much news left on Yellowhammer. It is almost all opinions, some of which I find to be sanctimonious and condescending to the readers I got to know so well over the years.”
He goes on to say he “thinks the world of the publisher and CEO,” Allison Ross, who is the wife of Hubbard’s former underling, John Ross. The Rosses left Alabama for Memphis, Tennessee after Hubbard was convicted. John was a pivotal witness against his former boss and cemented the state’s case with his lengthy testimony before the Lee County jury since he was also an insider on many of Hubbard’s schemes.
Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that now two news outlet in the state are led by former Riley and Hubbard allies, even though neither have a background in journalism.
APR reached out to Stacy just days before he sent his first news blast asking if the rumors of his new business were true. Stacy answered saying, “I’ve been thinking about for a while and the timing now seems right. The idea is to do at the state level what Mike Allen did with Politico Playbook and now with Axios: fusing hard news with analysis and branded content from Montgomery to DC.”
In his first newsletter on January 1, Stacy said to, “Expect the truth, warts and all. Expect timeliness, relevance, and quality. Expect fairness. Oh, and expect me to call you looking for rumors, rumblings, and story ideas.”
He also calls on businesses to contact him for branded content.
APR wishes Stacy all the success he deserves.