After leading The Anniston Star for 47 years, H. Brandt Ayers has stepped down as the newspaper’s publisher. The move was among several changes announced recently in the leadership of Consolidated Publishing.
The title of publisher and editor goes to Bob Davis, formerly The Star’s associate publisher and editor.
Ayers, 81, will remain as chairman of Consolidated Publishing, which also operates The Daily Home, The Cleburne News, The St. Clair Times, The Piedmont Journal and The Jacksonville News.
“For a couple of geezers like Phil and me, the journey to the digital planet is a journey too far,” Ayers said in a statement, referring to Phil Sanguinetti, who remains president of Consolidated. “We are making way for a team of experienced and talented young executives to move up.”
Ayers is the son of Anniston native Col. Harry Ayers, The Star’s longtime publisher and architect of the 1912 merger of two Anniston dailies that formed The Star.
Other changes include Josephine E. Ayers being named vice chairman of Consolidated Publishing’s board of directors, Robert Jackson as the company’s executive vice president and Dennis Dunn as vice president of operations.
Davis came to The Star in 2003 as editor of the newspaper’s editorial pages, and in 2006 became editor of the newspaper. In 2012 he was named associate publisher. He had previously worked as an editor at the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram.
A native of Aliceville, Davis is a past president of the Association of Opinion Journalists and serves on the boards of the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama and the Alabama Press Association.
Davis is the first person outside of the Ayers family to be named publisher of The Star. H. Brandt Ayers’ mother, Edel Ayers, served as publisher after her husband’s death in 1964.
“I have had an absolutely fantastic mentor,” Davis said, speaking of Ayers. “He’s been a great example of how a publisher should be involved in his community, passionate about how the newspaper reports on the comings and goings of its community.”
Davis said he’ll continue to rely on Ayers as he fills the new role. “I am honored by the trust that’s been placed in me by him,” Davis said.
Jackson was previously vice president of sales and operations. He will remain publisher of The Daily Home and the St. Clair Times as he takes on the new role of executive vice president. Jackson began his career with Consolidated Publishing in 2003 as assistant vice president of operations and publisher of The Piedmont Journal.
“The support of the Ayers and the Sanguinetti families, and the Consolidated board of directors, is both humbling and much appreciated,” Jackson said by phone Monday. “We have a great leadership team in place and I look forward to working with everybody in this going forward.”
Dunn has 37 years of experience in the newspaper business. He worked for 18 years at the Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer before coming to The Star as circulation director in 1997.
Josephine Ayers has been a Consolidated Publishing board member for three years and was editor-in-chief of the company’s magazine, Longleaf Style, for nine years.