Photo: Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star
How do you report in pictures two back-to-back incredible football games? The Star’s Bill Wilson and Trent Penny made an impressive job of it in November.
There were 13 action shots of the Auburn-Georgia game by Wilson in the next day’s edition. One showed the exact moment when Auburn wide receiver Ricardo Louis won the game, gaining control of a tipped ball to complete a pass with seconds remaining in the game. That one has to be The Star’s photo of the month. It reflected the photographer’s skill and also some luck. He was at the right place at the right time (Nov. 17, Page 1C).
You couldn’t capture the moment when Auburn won the Iron Bowl with an impossible 109-yard runback from a failed Crimson Tide field goal. It would require a movie camera. But there were 13 action photos of the game, including the moment of the failed Alabama field goal, by Wilson, and one of Alabama running back Kenyan Drake in mid air, upended by an Auburn defender, by Penny (Dec. 1, Section C). Both games were well reported by Ryan Black of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, with game analyses by The Star’s Mark Edwards, Marq Burnett and Joe Medley.
The Bama Fact Check story “WORDS/DEEDS” was in the best tradition of journalism, holding elected officials responsible. The story, by Tim Lockette, was a fair comparison of Gov. Robert Bentley’s actions in office with his campaign promises (Nov. 24, 1A).
Changing alcohol laws
The Star provided continuing coverage of changing alcohol-consumption laws in two area counties over the last year. Anniston and Weaver approved Sunday sales, thanks to a local law allowing their city councils to change without voter approval. Randolph County voters approved legalizing the sale of alcoholic beverages. Randolph County had been dry since before Prohibition.
A four-part series by Brian Anderson summarized the conflicts over changes and reported on their impact. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the expanded liquor sales laws is how little things have changed. Law enforcement officials reported no increases in drunk-driving arrests or other crimes. Even the anticipated increases in local revenues haven’t shown up much. The cities of Wedowee and Roanoke have seen improvement in tax receipts, but the Randolph County government expects a drop in revenue because liquor sales are not expected to bring in enough revenue to cover the loss of so-called “in lieu” taxes, funds the state provides to dry counties. It is too early to gauge how Calhoun County governments may be affected (Nov. 17 through 20).
The Clay County story reported that Clay is now “… the only place left in Alabama with Prohibition-era laws completely banning the legal sales of beer, wine and hard liquor” (Nov. 18, 19). However, the Nov. 20 article said that 25 counties in the state still outlaw liquor sales, “though all but two have at least one city where it is legal.” Two? Is Clay the only holdout or one of two?
Pictures didn’t work
“Fall color coming to peak in Calhoun Çounty” sought to show the gradually changing leaves in one place. The article, by Laura Gaddy, set the scene but the photos, in color by Wilson, didn’t really work. There were eight photos, covering the period from Oct. 22 to Nov. 1. The first four pictures, the top panel, showed no real changes. They were taken without direct sunlight. The second group of four, the bottom panel, were taken in direct sunlight. The first two photos looked virtually identical. Some change in the color of the leaves did show in the last two (Nov. 3, 1B).
An article about Christine Avenue residents speaking at an Anniston City Council meeting about a zoning issue contained a factual error. The story, by Patrick McCreless, reported that the city Board of Zoning Adjustment had “revoked its permission” for a local attorney to maintain an office in an area zoned as residential. What happened was the board denied the attorney’s request for a “use variance” to allow him to maintain his office there. There was no former “permission” from the board. An earlier Star story reported the board’s action accurately. (Disclosure: I was one of the Christine Avenue residents at the meeting) (Nov. 8, 8A).
A rite of the season is the change from daylight-savings to standard time. People rarely just know when to change their clocks. They depend on the media. The Star didn’t help them much this year. On Saturday, Nov. 2, the day prior to the change, there was a small notice in the middle of Page 3A, too easily overlooked. On Sunday, Page 1B, there was a story, but that was already too late. I found out from TV.
Paul Rilling is a retired former editor at The Star