“People trust me,” said Diggs, 68, on “Good Day Atlanta” Thursday. “I’ll get emails even today from people I don’t know. Besides the fashion, they’ll say, ‘You’re believable. You’re balanced.’ ”
In a follow-up interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Diggs said over four decades. WAGA-TV gave him a lot of freedom. “We have a morning meeting in which we pitch our story ideas,” he said. “About 95 to 99% of the time when I pitch a story, they say yes. The ability to do your own stories is what has kept me going.”
And he is so good at his beat, he rarely if ever enters that pitch room without something worth reporting.
Diggs, who grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated Amherst College, started as a print reporter at the Akron Beacon-Journal in the late 1970s. Morse said a corruption story he did was featured on “20/20″ by Geraldo Rivera. In 1980, a city editor at The Atlanta Journal saw his byline and hired him, he said in 2018 after being inducted into The Atlanta Press Club Hall of Fame in 2018.
At The Atlanta Journal, he broke enough stories covering city hall that WAGA-TV, which was a CBS affiliate at the time, took notice. A news director told him they could teach him how to do TV and he decided to make the switch in 1982. He stayed 41 years.
His favorite mayors were Andrew Young and Shirley Franklin. They both treated him with respect. He was awed by Young, watching him treated like a head of state when Diggs flew with him in Jamaica.
Jeff Hullinger, who is now at Georgia Public Broadcasting, used to work with Diggs at WAGA-TV from the 1980s into the 2000s. He described Diggs as “no nonsense. Just the facts. Connected. Consistent. A WAGA generational pillar, a pioneer. He has been greatly respected by those he covered and by those who competed against him. Morse is a very serious man. His work reflects that from beginning to end.”
Mike McClain, former news director at WAGA, said Diggs “set the standard for class and his work ethic is unmatched. I’m grateful that I had a chance to work with him.”
Another former news director Budd McAntee said he would receive calls from local leaders who didn’t always appreciate Digg’s probing questions: “I loved those calls because I knew Morse was just doing his job. One heck of a journalist!”
Diggs said a few years ago, he asked management to take him off long-term contracts and allow him to go year to year. When he finally decided this would be his last year on air, he said he was finally able to begin to decompress. The job, he said, is seven days a week because he is so deeply sourced, he gets calls, DMs, texts and emails day and night.
“It’s more than just the physical pounding out stories,” Diggs said. “I need to mentally separate myself from the job. That will take some time.”
Diggs said he has no grandiose retirement plans beyond spending more time with his family, traveling and playing golf again.