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H. Brandt Ayers
Publisher / The Anniston Star
Ayers Institute for Community Journalism
Anniston, AL

http://www.comj.ua.edu/
cwaddle@annistonstar.com
4305 McClelland Blvd.
P.O. Box 189
Anniston, AL 36202
Work: 256-235-3590


"To me the defining qualities of family papers are rootedness -- a passionate commitment to place and to the people who live there -- and spending more on the paper. If the family gets that sort of payday rush from putting out a really good newspaper they will spend more on the paper . . . I would ask you to explain to me what is the objective view of lousy health care, poor schools, racial murder and injustice?"
H. Brandt Ayers, in a speech to a Sept. 2002 conference on family newspapers at the University of Ilinois, Champaign-Urbana


Photo Linked From: http://www.npr.org/programs/atc/features/2006/may/anniston/ayers200.jpg

Summary:
Brandt Ayers is gradually turning ownership of his family's Anniston [Ala.] Star over to a school for teaching journalism run by the paper's longtime editor, Chris Waddle

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On May 2, 2006, National Public Radio's David Folkenflick aired an eight-minute wrapup story on "All Things Considered" about H. Brandt Ayers and the Anniston [Ala.] Star's unique process of gradually turning the Ayers' family ownership into a school for training journalists supported by the profits of the 27,000-circulation paper. (ALTERNATE LINK)


Ayers, family owner-publisher of the Anniston [Ala.] Star, chronicled his journalistic crusades and tried to define the relationship between a community and its local family publisher at a Sept. 10, 2002, conference at the University of Illinois.

"We may not be as detached as good corporate newspapers," he said. "But we care more. It is a relationship based on scolding, loving, hurting, being hurt and loving again, like any slightly dysfunctional family. Amen."

Ayers continued: "To me the defining qualities of family papers are rootedness -- a passionate commitment to place and to the people who live there -- and spending more on the paper. If the family gets that sort of payday rush from putting out a really good newspaper they will spend more on the paper. But passionate commitment: What exactly does that mean? Does that mean we totally abandon objectivity and turn the paper into a bullhorn for the publisher's prejudices? I think a really good family and corporate newspaper has to be both an advocate and objective . . . That tension has to exist . . . in family journalism, you are also a community leader. And this is where the tension between advocate and objective observer comes in."

Ayers cited among his "crimes of advocacy" helping to form a committee to mediate racial disputes, reforming a poor city-owned hospital to a quality regional medical center, helping form a coalition to provide a poor minority city school system, helping raise funds to help solve a racially-motivated killing, a voter-registration crusade and reporting on financial abuses by an anti-poverty agency.

"Even family publishers who love their community sometimes raise a little hell," Ayers said. "Shouldn't we have instead given those local controversies the puritanical stiff arm of objectivity? You can make a case. As for myself, I would ask you to explain to me what is the objective view of lousy health care, poor schools, racial murder and injustice?"

Read More:
http://www.annistonstar.com/as-index.htm
http://www.comj.ua.edu/