News Leadership 2003

ASNE recognizes Alabama publisher for leadership

Posted 4/8/2003 10:56:00 AM

NEW ORLEANS -- The American Society of Newspaper Editors recognized the leadership of H. Brandt Ayers, publisher of The Anniston (Ala.) Star, with the second annual ASNE Leadership Award. The award was presented at a Wednesday luncheon during the society’s annual convention, April 8-11, at The Fairmont Hotel.

The Anniston Star has been in the Ayers family since 1910. Ayers, known in the industry as Brandy, has worked at the paper since 1963 and has been publisher since 1969. In December 2002, he announced that he would create The Ayers Family Institute for Community Journalism, which will own the newspaper.

The goal of the institute is preserve the editorial integrity of the paper and take any "excess profits" and put them into joint programs with universities and journalism training organizations. Ayers envisions these programs as "an idea factory."

"So, as promised," Ayers wrote in a Dec. 22, 2002 column addressed to his father, "we are keeping the tradition of family papers going."

"Brandy Ayers' foundation is one of the greatest legacies a newspaper owner could leave to quality journalism," said Diane H. McFarlin, ASNE president. "This is just the latest and most dramatic example of Brandy's advocacy for what is right. He
has been a longtime proponent of investment in community newsrooms and was making the case for foreign news coverage long before it was the popular thing to do."

The Leadership Award was created in 2002 to recognize the leaders who guide America’s newspapers. Last year’s winner was Paul Steiger, managing editor of The Wall Street.

"The ASNE Editorial Leadership Award is intended to celebrate our industry's role models," McFarlin added. "The first two winners define the broad scope of leadership in newspapering -- from the courage of Paul Steiger of the Wall Street Journal in the wake of 9-11, to the forward thinking of Brandy Ayers in Anniston, Alabama."

ASNE, with about 800 members, is the largest organization of directing editors of daily newspapers in the Americas. It is a leader in improving diversity in newsrooms, strengthening newspaper credibility and improving high school journalism.