Former CNN Digital Chief Andrew Morse Named Publisher of Atlanta Journal-Constitution

From a New York Times story by Benjamin Mullin headlined “Former CNN Digital Chief Named Publisher of Atlanta Journal-Constitution”:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution announced on Wednesday that Andrew Morse, an architect of the shuttered CNN+ streaming service, would be its new president and publisher.

Mr. Morse, a longtime digital news executive whose career has included stops at Bloomberg Media and ABC News, will start on Monday.

“As the largest newspaper in the South, we’ve got an active audience in a part of the country that is at the center of a lot of important stories,” Mr. Morse said. “I think we have the ability to be an essential source of news not just for Atlanta but for the South.”

Mr. Morse, 48, joins The Atlanta Journal-Constitution amid a crisis in local news. More than 2,500 newspapers across the United States have closed over the last two decades, as revenue from print advertising dwindles, leaving one-fifth of Americans with limited access to local news.

Mr. Morse said the challenge of helping address the problems facing the local news industry had attracted him to the job. He said there was a formula for building a successful local news business that included a mix of advertising, digital subscriptions, events, e-commerce and news formats like email newsletters.

“To take a great brand in a dynamic city and run a playbook that I believe can figure out a problem that’s important for society, you couldn’t ask for a better scenario,” Mr. Morse said.

He succeeds Donna Hall, who retired as publisher last year after spending more than three decades at Cox Enterprises, owner of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. During her tenure, Ms. Hall focused on increasing the newspaper’s digital subscription and live events businesses.

Cox Enterprises, a family-owned company that generates most of its revenue from its cable and broadband businesses, has owned The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for more than eight decades. The company does not report financials for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution or The Dayton Daily News, which it also owns.

Mr. Morse said he planned to work with Axios, which Cox Enterprises acquired last year for $525 million, to expand the company’s business. Axios, known for its bullet-pointed “smart brevity” approach to news, has newsletters in Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, San Francisco and other cities.

At CNN, Mr. Morse greatly expanded the company’s digital operation. He was also heavily involved in the development of CNN+, a news streaming service. But the service, which CNN spent hundreds of millions of dollars on, was abruptly shut down by a new corporate owner, Warner Bros. Discovery, just weeks after it launched.

Mr. Morse said he remained bullish on the potential of digital subscriber businesses, citing the success of organizations including The New York Times.

“If you deliver world-class journalism and world-class content that is essential and engaging to an audience, they will subscribe and they will pay you money,” Mr. Morse said.

Benjamin Mullin is a media reporter for The Times, covering the major companies behind news and entertainment.

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