On Friday, Jan. 13, The Star’s information box on the holiday gave the date as Jan. 17, which would be the following Tuesday. It noted that libraries would be open (page 5A). However Sunday’s Star, Jan. 15, reported correctly that the holiday would be on Monday, Jan. 16, and that the libraries would be closed (2B). The Star carried no correction of the earlier notice. Were the libraries open or closed that day?
There was another slip, this one on the comics page. “Born Loser” appeared twice on the same page while “Bound & Gagged” was left out (Jan. 25, 6B). This error was noted the next day and the missing comic strip was run.
“Building resistance” was a timely story about rebuilding in the wake of the April 27 tornadoes. By Laura Johnson, the story told of building techniques and materials that can provide increased protection against storms and tornadoes. In Alabama, there are no requirements for such techniques as there are in some states.
Although overly long, the story provided useful information, though it left out one vital fact. Even these improved standards will not “secure a home against an EF4 or EF5 tornado.” What size tornado was the one that hit here? The story didn’t say (Jan. 6, 1A).
And why was this story about building stronger homes illustrated by a photo of a couple whose home was rebuilt without the use of the improved methods?
Story needed clarity
A front-page story about the naming of Jay Jenkins to the Ward 1 vacancy on the Anniston City Council was poorly organized and confusing. There were two important news developments in the story, by Laura Camper. The most important was Jenkins’ selection, properly reported in the first paragraph. The other was the issue of a possible conflict of interest between Jenkins’ role as a council member and his work as a contractor on two building projects for the city.
An important question was whether Jenkins had received any answer from the state Ethics Commission about the issue. This matter was mentioned three times in widely separated references. Only in the last paragraph did readers learn that Jenkins said he had received word from the Ethics Commission that he could serve on the council and continue to manage his current contracts with the city.
This information was not given until after the story had moved on to other business before the council. For clarity, all information about the conflict issue should have been told in one coherent place high in the story (Jan. 11, 1A).
Covering the Tide
The Star’s sports staff provided solid coverage of Alabama’s one-sided victory to claim the football national championship. Michael Casagrande and Joe Medley wrote analyses and background color of the Crimson Tide’s preparation for the Jan. 9 rematch with LSU, and of the game (Jan. 10). Trent Penny took fine game and victory photos. The Star’s headlines were the sharpest in the state press, “Big, Easy,” and “Better second time around.” The Jan. 12 special section, “14,” is an interesting record of Alabama’s special season.
On the court
Nick Birdsong and Rip Donovan covered almost every game of the Calhoun County high school basketball tournament, boys and girls divisions. There were pictures from many games, Jan. 14-22. However, The Star provided almost no direct reporting of regular-season prep games. There were roundups of the games, including some fairly comprehensive reports. The Star couldn’t provide staff coverage of all high school games, so the policy seems to be to cover few except for the county tourney.
Other January Starbrites:
• Two columns by Phillip Tutor, one that asks local residents to consider “The good things that happened” in Anniston (Dec. 30, 11A), and one that gives us a look at our history to provide perspective on the present (Jan. 20, 11A). Tutor’s columns meet an important need for a local newspaper — a regular column of local commentary.
• “A voice for the grassroots,” a warm story about Duggar Mountain Music Hall, by Brett Buckner, with fine photos by local musician and photographer Lloyd Andrews (Jan. 13, Escapes section, p. 13).
• “Alleged stabbing raises concerns,” by Brian Anderson, a complicated, well-written story about violence at a Lineville youth center, which nobody seems to own. This was the first of several articles about the youth center (Jan. 3, 7A).
Paul Rilling is a retired former editor at The Star.