The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday announced 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 Jan. 9.
“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 that the challenge of helping address the problems facing the local news industry attracted him to the job. He said there’s a formula for building a successful local news business that includes a mix of advertising, digital subscriptions, events, e-commerce and news formats including 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.
Mr. Morse 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 growing 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 that 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.
During Mr. Morse’s time at CNN, he greatly expanded the digital operation at the company. 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 remains 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.
Mr. Morse, who lives in New York, plans to move to Atlanta later this year.