Andrew Morse named publisher of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Former CNN, Bloomberg and ABC News executive to help lead digital transition
Andrew Morse has been named the president and publisher of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. (J. Scott Trubey/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: J. Scott Trubey/AJC

Credit: J. Scott Trubey/AJC

Andrew Morse has been named the president and publisher of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. (J. Scott Trubey/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has found its next president and publisher, a hard-charging television and new media journalist and executive, who will help lead the newspaper into its digital future.

Andrew Morse, a former senior leader at CNN, Bloomberg and ABC News, has been named as the top executive of the AJC, the flagship newspaper of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises. He will start in his new role Monday.

“Today’s news publications and the journalists behind them carry an important responsibility,” Cox Chairman and CEO Alex Taylor said in a news release. “People deserve fair and honest reporting, and Andrew has a long history of leading teams and delivering information people can trust. His role as president and publisher of the AJC will be important to our company, but even more so to those in our community.”

Morse, 48, is a former executive vice president and chief digital officer for CNN Worldwide and previously managed CNN’s digital operation. In that role, Morse oversaw the world’s largest digital news service, including

Morse also led CNN+, the cable network’s subscriber-based streaming service that was canceled in April after the network’s new parent company, now called Warner Bros. Discovery, completed its merger, and sought spending cuts.

“I’m a journalist. I will always be a journalist,” Morse said. “I believe this is a really important time for journalism. I believe in particular that it’s a really important time for local journalism.”

Morse praised Cox for its commitment to support local journalism and said Cox leadership has prioritized tackling the challenges of building “thriving, essential and profitable news organizations.”

In an interview, Morse called Atlanta the epicenter of the nation’s political, music, film and television universe. He also cited the metro area’s thriving business, sports, arts and food scenes.

“I think Atlanta is probably the most fascinating city in the country right now,” he said.

The AJC is a vital source of breaking news, enterprise and watchdog journalism, reaching more than 7 million unique online visitors per month and more than 125,000 print and digital subscribers. Morse joins the AJC at a time of disruption for the media industry.

Newspapers have been strained by declining print subscribership and advertising revenue that has shifted to tech giants such as Google and Facebook. Newsrooms have pivoted to digital while still weighted with legacy operations and costs. Broadcast and cable news have also been challenged by cord-cutting and shifting advertising spending and consumer preferences.

There has also been the emergence of new digital media companies, some with staying power and others that have struggled to build profitable businesses.

Morse will lead the AJC’s efforts to expand its reach and propel its transformation into a modern digital media company that drives the conversation of the Atlanta area.

“For us, there are a variety of ways to do that,” he said. “It comes through extraordinary and distinct reporting, speaking truth to power and delivering for the audience what they need.”

He said he wants to not only give the AJC audience “what’s important, but what’s interesting as well.”

In recent years, the AJC has launched award-winning podcasts, such as Breakdown, documentaries and has crafted curated newsletters. Morse said he wants the AJC to expand its digital media and newsletter portfolio.

Morse said if the newspaper is successful, the AJC will find more readers in metro Atlanta, but across Georgia and the nation, pointing to political coverage in the state’s emergence as a premier battleground state.

Prior to his nearly nine-year-run at CNN, Morse was the head of Bloomberg’s U.S. television division. Morse started his career at ABC News in 1996 and for 15 years climbed the ranks from production coordinator to executive producer for innovation for ABC News Digital. His ABC tenure included stints as an executive producer for the weekend editions of “Good Morning America” and “World News” and eight years overseas as a producer and editor in London and as Asia bureau chief.

Morse’s reporting abroad included coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“As the leader of a newsroom, you want a leader who understands the demands of newsgathering and honors the integrity of the reporting process,” AJC Editor Kevin Riley said. “Andrew is a respected journalist who knows what it takes to run a digital news business. His knowledge and experience will bring a powerful dimension to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and grow the legacy of journalistic excellence we’ve built over more than 150 years.”

Cox is one of the nation’s largest family-controlled companies with annual revenue of more than $20 billion. The company’s holdings include broadband giant Cox Communications and an automotive division that includes brands such as AutoTrader, Kelley Blue Book and auto auction house Manheim.

Cox was founded in 1898 by Ohio Gov. James M. Cox and his purchase of the Dayton Daily News. Cox has owned and operated newspapers, including the AJC, and television and radio stations for decades.

In recent years, Cox sold majority stakes in its television and radio stations, though it maintains minority shares. In August, Cox acquired Axios Media in a landmark deal that once again expanded Cox’s media empire with national scale.

Morse said the commitment to journalism that Cox made in the Axios deal was one factor in his decision to join the company and pointed to potential ways for the AJC and Axios to collaborate on news and events.

“Andrew follows a long line of leaders who have guided the AJC through some of the most critical times in our state and country’s history,” said Sandy Schwartz, CEO of the Cox Family Office, whose responsibilities include oversight of the AJC. “We have every confidence Andrew will continue positioning the AJC as an essential part of the community and region for many years to come.”

Morse is a graduate of Cornell University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in government. During his time at Cornell, Morse served as the editor-in-chief of the Cornell Daily Sun student newspaper. He is married to wife, Ana, and they have two children, daughter Cecilia and son Holden.

Morse succeeds Donna B. Hall, a longtime radio and newspaper executive who retired as the AJC’s publisher last spring after a 35-year career at Cox.