Alabama People: Todd Stacy
On the Capitol beat
With his Alabama Daily News website, aldailynews.com, Prattville native Todd Stacy has created a platform that not only aggregates the top stories from local, state and national media outlets, but also provides strong original reporting on statewide issues. Since its launch in January 2018, his morning email digests have become must-reads for legislators, elected officials, journalists and anyone interested in Alabama politics. He took time out after a week in Washington, D.C., interviewing Alabama’s congressional delegation to answer questions for Alabama Living. – Allison Law
Can we start with your educational and political background, for the readers who may not know you?
I’m from Prattville and went to Auburn, where I studied public relations and journalism. My first job in politics was working for State Sen. Wendell Mitchell back when I was still in high school. My big break was working for Gov. Bob Riley as his press secretary.
After that I went to the Legislature, where I worked as the Speaker’s communications director, and then for Congressman Martha Roby leading her communications shop. There were several smaller campaign stints along the way, but that about covers the big jobs.
Have you always wanted to be involved in politics?
Growing up, all I wanted to do was play high school sports like my brothers did. But in ninth grade I suffered some concussions that ended my football playing days. That forced me to look for other outlets, and I got interested in student government and theater, both of which I was involved in throughout high school and college.
I was fascinated by the idea that, under our political system, you can get almost anything you want with enough determination, organization and persuasion. I also began to understand early on that there are two types of people working in politics: those serving their own interests and those serving the interests of others. You could say I developed a sense of duty from thinking it was important for more people in the latter camp to be involved.
You were in Washington for several years, the center of the political world. What made you want to come back to Alabama?
I loved living in Washington. There’s nothing quite like it. But I never wanted to be there forever. And while the “center of the political world” is thrilling, I confess that I did eventually tire of the rat race. To me, whether you’re working in Congress or the State House or on the local school board, you’re there to make a positive difference on behalf of others. I was proud of the work I did in Congress, but I reached a point at which I believed I could make more of a difference elsewhere.
How has it been for you to come back to Alabama?
It has been great. I get to spend a lot more time with my family and go to as many Auburn games as I want.
Talk about the genesis of Alabama Daily News.
I’ve always been interested in the media business. Around January 2017, Mike Allen and Jim Vandahei left Politico and founded Axios, a brand new email and web-based media company in D.C. Mike’s morning news email quickly became must-read material for senators, congressmen, Capitol Hill and White House staff. And because those influential people are reading, it creates a very valuable ad space for organizations that want to reach them. It kind of just clicked that, “Hey, I can do the same thing in Alabama.” Also fundamental to the idea was my desire to improve the media landscape in Alabama.
How has ADN been received by elected officials?
Really well. They pretty much all read, which is great. I just spent a week in D.C. where I had meetings and interviews with the congressional delegation, and I was blown away by how many people said the Daily News was an essential part of their morning routine.
Washington officials and staff really like having a way to keep up with what’s going on in Alabama, while their counterparts here in the state like knowing what’s happening in Washington with a little explanation from someone who has been there. That crosscurrent is my specialty.
What’s next for ADN?
We’re growing! I recently brought on Mary Sell, who is widely known as one of Alabama’s best political reporters. ADN is offering a Capitol News Service. So few newspapers can afford to have their own State House beat reporters, but their readers still want to know what their local delegation is up to. So we’ll provide quality, localized content for local papers for an affordable fee.
Also, I’m starting a podcast called “In the Weeds.” It’s a weekly program where we pull back the curtain on Alabama politics so you can get to know how our top public officials go about their jobs.
Anything else you want to mention or talk about?
Thank you to everyone who subscribes and reads every day! Oh, and don’t forget to click on an ad every now and then.