Cecil Hurt: Here's why you should subscribe to Tuscaloosa News and TideSports

Cecil Hurt
The Tuscaloosa News

I am not a salesman. That has never been my skill set and never will be. If I were in the famous "Glengarry Glen Ross scene with Alec Baldwin, I’d be lucky to get the set of steak knives. With coffee reserved for closers, I’d have to bring teabags from home. I report, observe, reflect, analyze, contribute on Twitter and try to share those things in an interesting way.

That’s why I want to be open about changes that have come, changes that are coming, why they are necessary and why The Tuscaloosa News and TideSports hope you, our audience, will support us in those times. 

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These are the realities of 2021, not just in Tuscaloosa but in every community in America large enough and fortunate enough to still have a newspaper. Many don’t because of diminishing print readership. Most of us of a certain generation still like the feel of a hard copy newspaper along with our morning tea. (Coffee is for closers.) Much larger communities like Birmingham don’t have a daily print newspaper remaining, so that’s a luxury and, without digital revenue sources, it’s a luxury that no publisher can afford.

Jan 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA;  Alabama running back Najee Harris (22) celebrates after Alabama defeated Ohio State 52-24 to win the College Football Playoff National Championship Game in Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports

That’s why The News has made a transition to digital content: not because we don’t love our old customers but because survival involves reaching new ones and having them subscribe as well. 

Tuscaloosa has a unique space in the sports world, a community of relatively modest size that happens to be home to the giant of intercollegiate athletics, the University of Alabama. Every day, the competition includes every titan of the sports media world. In my 39 years at The News, we have always wanted to accept that challenge instead of succumbing to it. That hasn’t changed, and no one intends it to change.

To make it continue, digital subscriptions will be a part of the plan. These are not easy economic times for anyone. We understand that. The cost structure, especially with promotions, will not be prohibitive. Also, we are fully committed to making the product well worth the cost.  (Your print subscription now can come with digital access, for example.) 

There will still be free content at the website but the premium product will include most of my regular columns as well as additional special commentary and coverage especially for subscribers. Throughout 2020, we were on hand for every football game and every basketball game, home and away, that pandemic restrictions have allowed. No other outlet is more visible and more on hand. We also have the outstanding football coverage being done by Brett Hudson. Coverage of Class of 2022 recruiting in football and basketball will be a point of emphasis. Brett already owns the Alabama baseball beat. We cover far more of Alabama’s women’s teams — basketball, gymnastics, softball — than anyone else. We will offer expanded podcast access. 

All we want is to be the best option for any consumer with an interest in knowing more about the University of Alabama and its athletics programs. My sales skills aren’t good enough to sell an average product, so we will be above average in our work, our commitment and in the value we provide to our subscribers.

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or via Twitter @cecilhurt