Tribune parent company acquires Cullman Today

Cullman Tribune Publishers Noah Galilee, left, and Dustin Isom, right, pose for a photo with Tiffany Abbott Collins, former owner of Cullman Today. (Michelle Hamby for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Humble Roots, LLC., the parent company of The Cullman Tribune, is happy to announce the acquisition of Cullman Today from Tiffany Abbott Collins. Noah Galilee and Dustin Isom, owners of Humble Roots LLC, and Collins look forward to continuing to provide the most accurate and comprehensive news coverage in the Cullman County area.

The Cullman Tribune was founded in 1874 and is Cullman’s oldest continuously operating business and the oldest continuously published weekly newspaper in Alabama. The Cullman Tribune is also proud to be Cullman’s only locally-owned newspaper and one of only two Alabama Press Association accredited news sources in the area.

Galilee and Isom formed CullmanSense in late 2010. It was the first online news platform in the area solely dedicated to local news coverage and officially launched Jan. 1, 2011.

“Noah and I started CullmanSense in my bedroom a decade ago with less than $100 to pay for our website hosting and domain with a goal of simply reporting the news as unbiasedly as we can. There were moments where we thought we would not reach this goal and this idea would become but a memory,” said Isom. “Through the years we have persevered only because of the continued support of our community and our incredible crew. We have always been an independent, locally owned and operated, can’t be paid off, not afraid to report the truth even if it hurts the bottom line news organization dedicated to original, factual reporting. As we integrate with Cullman Today, we will continue providing positive, family-friendly content across a variety of channels and we will strive to be a source of positivity, uplifting our community through these unusual times.”

The two formed Humble Roots, LLC as they eyed their first purchase, The Cullman Tribune, which was officially acquired April 1, 2016. Under their leadership, The Cullman Tribune has grown its publication rate from once per week to Cullman’s only 5-day print publication.

Abbott explained the history of Cullman Today, sharing, “My late husband, Tim Collins, launched Cullman Today in early 2015, much to my surprise. I came home from a family trip and he announced to me that he just started an online paper. As you can imagine, I was in shock. Tim was a naturopath at one point in his life, a holistic health merchant, a mortgage broker, a website builder, but newspaper owner was not in the arsenal of jobs I was familiar with. I had no idea he was interested in that, but he was great at it. He could write in a way that brought a situation to life. Sometimes it made you laugh and other times it made you go, ‘Did he just say that?’ But it was always colorful and in authentic one-of-a-kind Tim Collins fashion.”

She continued, “Tim spent all of his time writing about the people in this community, highlighting our heroes in blue, the heroes who fight the fires each and every day (most of them for free) and our EMS heroes. He was a pioneer in many ways and changed the way that a lot of our news is reported today. Cullman Today was his life and it allowed him to connect with others in a deeply profound way. Cullman Today was basically a love letter to the one and only place that ever felt like home to Tim.”

Abbott and Galilee have been friends for many years, but some of those years are described as rocky by both.

Galilee said, “Tiffany has been a friend since middle school days. When her late husband Tim launched Cullman Today, just a few years after the launch of CullmanSense, our friendship dimmed for a few years as competition generally breeds some sort of contempt. Those were not the best years, but I am glad they are behind us and our relationship is repaired. The acquisition of Cullman Today by Humble Roots, LLC served multiple purposes, first of which was to relieve Tiffany from the enormous amount of stress and pressure that come with operating a news service. She has been through the ringer the past few years and she has earned the right to relax. Secondly, the acquisition of Cullman Today means there will be a bit more content including more videos and some audio casts- not going to say too much as we are still working on a couple of projects.”

Abbott also acknowledges that the relationship between The Tribune and Cullman Today was not always great, sharing, “It’s no secret that we have not always been the best of friends. What people do not know is that Noah and I have known each other for many years. We went to school together in middle and high school and we were very close during that time. I think it’s a beautiful thing to work together, put aside past differences and make Cullman Today reach its full potential going forward. I truly feel that this was the best decision for myself, my family and my business.”

Carrying on the name and work of Tim Collins and Cullman Today is an aspect of the acquisition Galilee intends to honor.

“While Tim and I never spoke before he passed, I was able to learn more about him and what his true intentions were for Cullman Today and I find it admirable,” he said. “At the time, natural competition dictated my moves, but as the years passed by, it became clear that Tim was a great ambassador for Cullman County. He genuinely had others’ best interests at his core, and that is something that will not leave Cullman Today.”

When asked what this means to her and about Cullman Today’s future, Abbott said, “It means for me personally, much needed time to rest, spend time with my family and friends and an opportunity to focus on my health. I think the reason I’ve stayed so busy all of these years was to keep my mind off the grief and painful loss we have endured. As for Cullman Today, it means an exciting new chapter, growth and continuing what Tim built while honoring him and his hard work.”

While Abbott’s decision was not an easy one, allowing Humble Roots, LLC to acquire Cullman Today is something she is happy with.

“I feel great about it. I know that it will allow Cullman Today to grow in ways I would not have been able to make happen,” she said. “As I mentioned earlier, I needed more time with my family and friends, time to rest, and my time was very limited. At one point, I was operating two businesses and involved with three nonprofits. This purchase will allow Cullman Today to expand on multiple platforms. It means that just because I don’t have the time and energy to make it go, it will not die or disappear. I am grateful for this opportunity.”

The acquisition of Cullman Today will result in minimal changes to The Cullman Tribune according to Galilee, who added, “The Tribune will continue to print five days per week and post news online daily. We have built the strongest publication in the region, and the amount of new print subscribers and daily digital downloads has proven that we are on the correct path. The Cullman Tribune will serve as the main hub for news aggregation for all social media platforms. As far as our day-to-day business, it will continue on the same.” 

As for changes you can look for at Cullman Today, Galilee said, “Besides some aesthetics, such as a new logo, Cullman Today will serve as more of a family, fun, relaxing, lifestyle and free-flowing news aggregate for the Cullman Tribune. It will continue to have breaking news and weather, and we will be introducing a new line of videos and podcasts.”

The Cullman Tribune is also excited to welcome members of the Cullman Today family as the two crews come together, Galilee said. “The crews from both will work together, but assignments will differ based on content. We are happy to have Macie and Coleman joining us from Cullman Today and they have already begun working with our reporters and editorial staff. It’s gone quite well. There were many volunteers at Cullman Today so we will spend the next week reaching out to each individually to find out which ones would like to continue shooting photographs and sending in reports.”

The addition of the Cullman Today crew will add even more depth to a team at The Cullman Tribune, who brought home 24 Alabama Press Association Media Awards in 2020 including 2020 Photo of the Year, Best In-Depth News Coverage, Best Human Interest Column, Best Use of Social Media and Most Improved, building on the six awards won in 2019.

Abbott has not ruled out future contributions to Cullman Today and The Cullman Tribune. She said of her role for now, “I will continue to share Cullman Today news and support Cullman Today. It was built by the man I loved more than anything. Keep your eyes peeled, you may see me now and then involved with certain projects and creative endeavors. My dear friend and partner in Cullman Today, Tonya Quick, will continue to run our sister page, Hanceville Today, to cover local events, happenings and news in Hanceville.”

Galilee concluded, “At the end of the day, I have spent over 16 years in the news industry while Dustin has spent a decade, so between us and our meetings with Tiffany, we can assure this acquisition is going to be a great one for all involved from the readers to advertisers and all those who will have their stories told. We are grateful and humbled to take over where Tiffany has left off and will keep true, local news flowing for decades to come.”

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