Media Review: Alabama’s Best Print Journalism

Alabama’s best journalism continues to be delivered by print media. Television and other outlets fail to provide the depth or breadth of coverage for sports or political issues. The Capstone Report consumes at least three or four newspapers per day—so we are ready to offer our judgement on Alabama’s best newspapers.

Best Alabama Sports Coverage: The newspaper of record for the University of Alabama remains the Tuscaloosa News. Little has changed in the last year as the News continues to provide the most comprehensive coverage of any state newspaper. The newspaper staff and its star writer Cecil Hurt deserve praise for bringing information out in a timely fashion. Over the last couple of years, the Tuscaloosa News has provided breaking information on the termination of Mike Shula, the hiring of Nick Saban and every other major story involving UA athletics. It contains “All the News Fit to Print about UA.”

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Best Small Market Alabama Sports Coverage: The Anniston Star and its writer Creg Stephenson. Stephenson provides useful updates to readers of the Star and the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. His work is competent, informative and packaged nicely by both newspapers.

Best Columnist:Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News. If there is a story, he’s the one to break it. Hurt is the most connected, and influential journalist in the state of Alabama. Like a Robert Novak column, you find nuggets of information hidden inside Hurt’s word choice. When you want to know what is going on Hurt’s the E.F. Hutton.

Best Alabama Beat Writer: Ian Rapoport of the Birmingham News. His career covering Alabama started roughly during Mike Shula’s final season; however, this season he has provided solid work covering a variety of sports. He might get under Nick Saban’s skin during press conferences, but out of the Alabama press corps, Rapoport is doing the best job. He’s also providing interesting commentary and insights via his blog, The Rap Sheet.

Best Sports Photograph: The F*me pump thrown by an Ole Miss coed following the dramatic loss to Alabama.

Best High School Sports Coverage: The Birmingham News and set the standard with its prep coverage. If you can name the sport, the News covers it better than anyone. While the sports section misses Ron Ingram, the newspaper continues to deliver the best coverage in the state. If the Birmingham News were looking for a great way to beef up its prep coverage, they should hire the former Birmingham Post-Herald great Rubin Grant. I remain a big fan of Rubin’s work.

Best Newspaper Design: The Birmingham News. The News was chosen because of its consistently attractive layout. The newspaper could make better use of whitespace, as dominant front page photographs bump into divider lines. While this is an element of the design style, it gives the newspaper a muddy look. Also on the Monday edition, the March Madness logo was printed in black and white in my copy of the newspaper. The basketball was in color on the online pdf. This indicates the graphic file was not in CMYK mode, but in RGB. Even with these design deficiencies the paper provides an easy to read format. The paper could improve by modeling itself on the Hartford Courant or the The Day of New London, Conn. Both newspapers set the standard for use of white space. I’ve attached PDFs of the front pages of the Birmingham News, The Hartford Courant and The Day below for a handy comparison.

Hartford Courant

The Day

Birmingham News


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  1. 2

    I was liking this Site until I read this rubbish about the Birmingham News and it’s “Star” Reporter – Ian Rippingpants.God only knows how he tried to prop up Shula through thick and thin.
    It’s already been proven that Cecil can be bought and as far as the rest of them – they are for sale (cheap) and lick their fingers constantly to see how the wind is blowing.
    Finally, as somebody that has read Alabama History over the years – The Birmingham News has always been and will be the propaganda piece for the Rich and Big Business. The News stance editorially during the Civil Rights Era is shameful and wittingly fostered attitudes and actions that crippled this City to this day and gave us our International Legacy. Fire Hoses, Bombs , and Dead Children.

  2. 3

    I think Rapoport was being used by sources—and I think the newspaper was not sufficiently aggressive in considering the agenda of the sources it cited. That doesn’t mean he isn’t doing a good job today. He provides more information, faster via the newspaper and his blog of any of the other present beat writers.

    As for Cecil, he’s never been bought. He took out a loan to pay medical expenses. The loan was from someone he wasn’t even covering. And for all the complaints about columnists, Cecil is probably the most informed person on Alabama athletics in the media. Period. You simply must read Cecil if you want to know what is happening.

    As for the News and its political leanings of the past. Not relevant to judging the product on its present merits. If you don’t like the editorial stand, read the Anniston Star—it is the most liberal paper south of NYC.

    I’d be interested in hearing what you think are the better options for people reading Alabama sports. The other newspapers in the state just aren’t very good…in my opinion. But I’d be interested in knowing what you think because i could’ve missed something.

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