Alabama has a significant history in the American Civil Rights movement. Newspapers stemming from the South reflect these bigger histories, as well as smaller challenges that remind us of issues in our local communities. These newspapers aim to bring the community together by reporting on often overlooked human interest stories and community problems.
In this list, we’ll go through the biggest newspapers in Alabama that have deep histories within their communities and newer newspapers that have emerged with online editions that showcase the charm of the South.
The Tuscaloosa News was first published in 1818 as a daily newspaper. It is well known in west-central Alabama with a larger readership. During its peak in the 2000s, the paper had a daily circulation of 32,700, becoming the fifth-highest circulation in 2008 declining to 14,000 in the past years. Despite this, the paper has continued to gain recognition for its reporting, winning multiple awards from the state trade association of newspapers in 2018.
Cherokee County Herald is a weekly newspaper distributed in central Alabama. The newspaper was first published in 1938 and was the only weekly newspaper in the Cherokee Country until the late 1980s. The newspaper has a strong association with local news and journalism and has a page dedicated to its community as well as national sports, business, and opinion.
The Anniston Star is a daily newspaper founded in 1883 known for its community coverage and as a source for retail advertising in the region. The paper gained significance as one of the few liberal, left-leaning newspapers in the South of the United States, supporting Franklin D. Roosevelt during his election campaigns.
The Opelika Observer or The Observer covers news around Lee County, Alabama. With their motto “by local people, for local people,” the Observer has a strong sense of community and covers people, places, and events of Opelika, such as fundraisers, events, local sports teams, deaths, and updates from local schools about students. Opelika Observer is a fairly new newspaper that was started in 2008 community-led.
Originally called the Alabama Reporter, Shelby County Reporter was founded in 1843 in Talladega County. The paper is published weekly and circulated across the 14 cities and towns of Shelby Country. Like many other state newspapers, it has a heavy community involvement, working with local high schools to produce student newspapers in addition to its weekly issues.
The Birmingham News is one of the largest newspapers in Alabama that was first published in 1888 as The Evening News with only two reporters. It reports local and breaking news, sports, and occasional human interest stories. While the newspaper is known to take a lean right in support of the Republican party, it endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Democrat Doug Jones in the 2017 US Senate elections in Alabama.
The Gadsden Times was founded in 1867 making it the oldest business in Alabama. The daily newspaper covers local news, lifestyle, entertainment, and national sports, for which it has received multiple awards from the Alabama Press Association.
The Huntsville Times is published three times a week. It was first issued in 1955 and covers news in Huntsville and north Aabama’s Tennessee Valley region with a daily circulation of 57,000 and 74,000 in its Sunday edition. Because NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the Army’s Redstone Arsenal are located in Huntsville, in addition to covering news, sports, and lifestyle content, the paper has a large section dedicated to science, aerospace, and the military.
Over the Mountain Journal is a bi-weekly newspaper distributed to around 40,000 households in the cities of Hoover, Homewood, Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, and North Shelby County. The paper publishes feature stories and has regular columns covering local businesses, schools, events, sports, and community announcements.
The Hoover Sun is a neighborly community newspaper for the city of Hoover outside Birmingham and is published monthly with concurrent online content. Its news covers businesses, schools, sports, people, and events.
Montgomery Advertiser, originally called The Planter’s Gazette, is a daily newspaper that was first published in 1829. During the Civil Rights Movement, the paper was known for reporting on the region's lynchings and criticizing civil rights activists in their goals. In 2018, the newspaper recognized its antagonistic history and released an editorial in 2019 called “Our Shame: The sins of our past laid bare for all to see.”
Baldwin Times was a weekly newspaper in the Bay Minette area. Founded in 1890 as the Daphne Times, it covers business, sports, local government, schools, and ethics news that posts designated times for the weekly mass in specific parishes within Bay Minette. The newspaper won several awards from the Alabama Press Association for its column and commentary sections in 2018.
The Cullman Times was established in 1901 and focuses on community news like local and state news, life, sports, celebrations, and opinion pieces. It also has a large weekly Times magazine section and an e-paper. After merging with The North Jefferson News, the newspaper won numerous media awards from the Alabama Press Association for its editorials.
The Decatur Daily is a daily newspaper, also known as the independent voice of the Tennessee Valley. Founded in 1912, the community newspaper shifted from print to e-editions in 2018 after increased printing costs. Despite this shift, the daily newspaper now has a steady digital media presence and has won several awards for its in-depth news coverage, photography, and creative use of multimedia.
The Dothan Eagle was founded in 1903 as a community newspaper with a daily circulation of around 9,000. The paper covers breaking news, business, education, and crime and has a large section for high school, college, Troy University, and Professional sports.
These newspapers open the conversations around broader narratives and local challenges while being rooted in its histories. They play a significant role in bringing communities together and redirecting efforts to amplify voices and make their communities better.
Birmingham News is the largest newspaper in Alabama. The paper has been a staple in the state since its establishment in 1888 and is the main source of news for Birmingham’s 200,000 residents. Due to the decline in advertising and circulation, the publication stopped its printing press in 2023, alongside the publication of its two sister papers, The Huntsville Times and Press-Register.
This decline was evident when the paper cut down its publishing from daily to three times a day in 2012 by Advance Publications. Today, the paper runs in a digital-only format by publishing daily news on its website AL.com. Despite this change, the paper has embraced the digital transformation, with email newsletters, mobile apps, and sports podcasts.
The Mobile Centinel is the first newspaper published in Alabama founded in 1813 by James Lyon. Also known as the Press-Register, the original paper stopped its publication in 2023 after Advance Publications announced cutbacks to its print-edition publication days. Instead, they focused on increasing online news by combining websites with Birmingham News and The Huntsville Times which provides 24/7 breaking news coverage.
Similar to most newspapers in the United States, the three biggest newspapers in Alabama are owned by one media corporation. There are also a few family-owned newspapers in Alabama including The Southern Star and The Clayton Record that have been owned and run by the same family since its establishment.
International newspapers are typically operated through different business models and regulatory environments that are owned by publishing companies and cooperatives. Similarly, with the increase in digital information, newspapers in Alabama are the result of past mergers and acquisitions. However, many of these have seen closure in their print editions within the past decade.
Newspapers in Alabama are owned by corporations, independent proprietors, or joint ventures This concentrated ownership distribution means a reduction in diversity of perspectives, with the majority of news sources being provided by the white demographic of the state. The biggest newspaper publication in Alabama is Advance Publications which is a privately held company that is owned by the Newhouse family. The publication also has subdivisions in other media companies such as Condé Nast and Warner Bros. Discovery.
Newspapers in Alabama are distributed among a few key players that own the majority of newspapers, both in Alabama and other regions of the United States. The biggest newspaper publication in the state is the Alabama Media Group who own The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times, and The Press-Register. The company is a subdivision of Advanced Local which owns much larger publications throughout the United States.
With publications embracing digital information with online news, the best way to reach out to newspapers in Alabama is through the paper's website where they provide contact information. Most of the publications are also active on social media, mainly Twitter, where you can find reporters, journalists, and editors who are looking for their next headline.