The Anniston Star is a daily newspaper serving Anniston, and the surrounding region.
The newspaper is owned by the Ayers family of Anniston under their Consolidated Publishing Company. Average Sunday circulation for the Star in September 2004 was 26,747. Its offices are located at 4305 McClellan Boulevard in Anniston. Publisher Bob Davis took over his role from H. Brandt "Brandy" Ayers, son of founder Harry Ayers, in 2016. The Star is a community newspaper and the dominant source of retail advertising in the region. Its online edition offers the content of the print edition, along with syndicated articles from Consolidated's network papers.
Then editor Harry Ayers left the Anniston Evening Star and partnered with businessman Thomas Kilby to purchase the newly-launched Anniston Hot Blast in 1912. The Hot Blast quickly eclipsed the Evening Star in circulation and Star owner James Lloyd sold out to Ayers and Kilby. Kilby resigned to run for Lieutenant Governor of Alabama in 1914, leaving Ayers as sole owner of the Anniston Hot Blast and Evening Star, which name was eventually shortened. In line with Kilby's political agenda, the paper supported national prohibition. Ayers developed a distinctive voice in his popular Sunday editorials, which were often reprinted in other newspapers.
During the Great Depression, the Star gained a reputation as one of a small group of liberal-minded Southern newspapers. It was one of the few progressive Southern papers to support Franklin Roosevelt during all four of his election campaigns. In 1948, it broke with the Dixiecrats, who had taken over the Democratic machinery in Alabama, and endorsed Harry Truman for president. As Fort McClellan expanded in advance of U.S. involvement in World War II, the paper's circulation surpassed 15,000. In the 1950s, Ayers used the paper to lambast the anti-communist theatrics of Senator Joseph McCarthy.
Brandy Ayers took over the paper from his father in 1965. Under the younger Ayers' watch, the Star reversed its previous skepticism toward the Civil Rights Movement and strongly supported school integration, one of the few Southern papers to do so. George Wallace derisively nicknamed the paper The Red Star for its support of integration (which was popularly associated with Communism). It has consistently remained one of the more liberal newspapers in a state that has grown overwhelmingly Republican. Its exceptionalism has attracted talented journalists, including Rick Bragg and Ralph Callahan.
By 2002 circulation began to subside from just over 28,000. The non-profit Ayers Family Institute for Community Journalism was established to support the paper's independence. It has partnered with the University of Alabama with a grant the Knight Foundation to support a graduate level academic program in community journalism. Davis succeeded Ayers as publisher in 2016.
In January 2018 Ayers was publicly accused of having spanked female reporters in the 1970s. He admitted to spanking one, citing his "youth" and a physician's advice as mitigating circumstances for the offense. He resigned from his chairmanship of the Consolidated Publishing Company, and was succeeded by his wife, Josephine.
- Barringer, Felicity (December 16, 2002) "Alabama Paper Plans to Go Nonprofit." The New York Times
- Stoker, Kevin (April 24, 2015) "The Anniston Star" Encyclopedia of Alabama - accessed January 4, 2018
- Lockette, Tim (January 4, 2018) "Star's former publisher acknowledges assault on reporter." Anniston Star
- Thornton, William (January 4, 2018) "H. Brandt Ayers, Anniston Star's former publisher, resigns following allegations." The Birmingham News
- Anniston Star website
- Anniston Star front page at newseum.org