The issue of sexual harassment in the media came to Alabama in a rather salacious way over the past couple of weeks as former Anniston Star publisher H. Brandt Ayers acknowledged “spanking” at least one reporter in the 1970s.
Ayers is the former publisher and current chairman of the board of Consolidated Publishing, which owns the Star. He admitted last week to spanking former reporter Wendy Sigal in her home in 1973 or 1974, according to an article published in the newspaper. Another former reporter, Veronica Pike Kennedy, has also claimed Ayers spanked her at the office, and two other women have told the paper of similar instances.
In at least one case, Ayers was accused of using a pica pole — a metal ruler common in pre-digital age newspapers that was used for measuring and cutting copy for placement on a page — to spank a female reporter in front of other employees.
The admission and accusations have roiled media circles across Alabama, as both Ayers and the Star are well known and highly thought of. Also, some have complained that the matters were known about for decades by many prominent journalists, but never made public.
The paper announced a new sexual harassment policy is being put in place. Meanwhile, the 82-year-old Ayers, who still frequently writes opinion pieces for the paper, has said he has no intention of resigning as chairman of the board.
Kennedy joins Lagniappe
Randy Kennedy, who is co-host of “Sports Drive” on WNSP-FM, has joined Lagniappe as a weekly columnist.
In addition to years of work in radio, Kennedy is also a former sports editor for the Mobile Press-Register. He will work with current sports writer, Mark Bryant, to help expand Lagniappe’s coverage of local and statewide sports.
Kennedy can be heard every weekday from 3-6 p.m. on WNSP.
It’s been a hectic New Year so far for the Lagniappe staff as we completed our move to new offices at 704 Government St. The move takes Lagniappe back downtown where we started nearly 16 years ago.
We are excited to be part of downtown Mobile’s revitalization.