On June 4, Editor and Publisher, a newspaper trade publication, reported that "Consolidated Publications imposed an across-the-board pay cut at its papers, including The Anniston (Ala.) Star, The Daily Home in Talladega and four weeklies." Ed Fowler, The Star's vice president for operations, was quoted, "These cuts are the results of precipitous declines in advertising revenues that are shared across our industry." The same article said The Birmingham News "confirmed on its Web site … that it was imposing a 5 percent to 8 percent pay cut on most employees beginning at the end of the month."
The problem is industry-wide. The New York Times also announced pay cuts. However, the Times and the News reported on their companies' actions. The Star did not carry the news about its own company.
Introduce new writers
Many bylines of new writers have appeared in The Star recently. Some may be summer interns or Knight Fellows from this year's class from the University of Alabama, but who knows? The Star seems to have discontinued its former practice of introducing new writers to the community.
Work worth mentioning
The Star's June 28 Sunday edition was an example of good community journalism. There were 10 local news, feature and sports stories and 10 local opinion and feature columns. Page 1A featured a thorough examination of homicides in Calhoun County, their causes, their decline this year, and what local residents and law enforcement agencies are doing about it, by Graham Milldrum.
A useful, interesting feature, "Day tripin' ," a survey of places to go on short drives in the area, by Lisa Davis with many attractive scenic photos by Bill Wilson, was carried that day (1D). Davis is not identified, although general journalistic practice requires telling readers who its contributors are.
That edition also carried "Diamond Dazzlers," the 12 "best" boys' high school baseball players this year, chosen by The Star's sports staff, by Nick Birdsong, with fine photos by Wilson and Trent Penny (pages 8C, 9C).
Another local sports story that day lost much of its impact through poor page layout. The story, by Joe Medley, told of the Anniston ties of a 17-year old woman tennis player, Melanie Oudin, who upset a highly ranked player to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon (1A). It was a well-written story, but not well tied in with the main wire service coverage of the match (1C).
If you read the Associated Press story first, the vague reference to "family ties to Anniston" inserted in that story makes no sense. The page 1A story does refer readers to page 1C, but the sports story doesn't mention the page 1A feature.
On the farm
The Star began a new Monday column in June, "Business as usual," by John Fleming, about local business activities. The first column, on the current trend toward more farmers' markets, in Alabama and nationwide, was interesting and well-illustrated by Stephen Gross with photos of the Zinn Park Saturday market (June 22, 1A). But the story gave the impression that the Zinn Park market is Anniston's only such market.
The headline read, "City joins trend of farmers markets." The traditional farmers' market at the Calhoun County Administration Building, which has been operating for decades, goes unmentioned. That market is not an "event," with music and refreshments. It is simply a place where farmers offer fresh produce at good prices.
There is also grammatical confusion in the first sentence of a sidebar that ran with the story, "Interesting news is coming from the Atlanta metro area in the last couple of weeks." Huh?
There were a number of glitches in The Star in June. These mistakes that slip by editors and copy desks can make a newspaper look sloppy and unprofessional.
• A Briefcase headline on the business page, "Replacement named for Browder at Colonial," got the name wrong. It should have been (Bobby) Lowder (June 5, 7C).
• The cutline on a photo with the story "Rained out" was separated from the picture by five inches of print (June 11, 1A).
• A photo with a story about the umpire Robert Motley showed two umpires. The cutline didn't bother to say which one was Motley (June 16, 1B).
• A story on an Atlanta Braves game ended with, "Up came Jones, who wasn't in the lineup … because a sore toe hinders the switch hitter when he bats from the right side." So, what happened? (June 4, 6C).
• A story about former President George W. Bush visiting his old baseball club, the Texas Rangers, ended, "The former president said he brought somebody he loves, wife Laura, and looked forward …" (June 19, 4C).