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Morris Communications, headquartered in Augusta, Georgia, is a privately held media company with diversified holdings that include magazine publishing, outdoor advertising, book publishing and distribution, visitor publications, and online services. Today, the Georgia-based enterprise reaches across the nation, has holdings in Europe, and employs 6,000 people.
|Founder||William S. Morris Jr.|
|William S. Morris III, Chairman|
William S. Morris IV, CEO
Number of employees
Morris Communications is separate from Morris Multimedia, which was founded by Charles H. Morris, a member of the same family that founded Morris Communications.
William S. Morris Jr. began working in the media industry in 1929 when he got a job as a bookkeeper at the Augusta Chronicle. He and his wife bought stock in the paper in 1945 and founded Southeastern Newspapers, Inc. They bought the remaining shares of the Chronicle in 1955 and expanded with the purchase of the Augusta Herald. Their son William S. "Billy" Morris III joined the company in 1956. Additional newspapers in Georgia were added in the coming years. Billy was appointed President of the company in 1966, and the name was changed to Morris Communications Corp. in 1970.
The company continued to expand, adding interests radio and television as well as newspapers in Alaska, Florida, and Texas. The company purchased Florida Publishing Co., owners of The Florida Times-Union and The St. Augustine Record, on January 1, 1983. The company expanded into outdoor advertising in 1985 with the purchase of Naegele Outdoor Advertising, which they renamed Fairway Outdoor Advertising. In 1995, they expanded into Kansas by acquiring Stauffer Communications, which had a portfolio of newspapers and TV and radio stations. They added travel guides starting with the acquisition of Best Read Guide Franchise Corp. in 1997, and added Guest Informant in 2003 and Where in 2004. Morris Visitor Publications has since grown to become the company's second-largest division. Another subsidiary, Morris Publications Ltd. UK, was created in 1998, when Cadogan Guides of London was purchased. They also acquired London This Week, renaming it the London Planner.
Morris Publishing Group (MPG) was formed in 2001 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Morris Communications to handle the newspaper side of the corporation. MPG publishes 12 daily, 11 non-daily, and numerous free community newspapers in the United States. MPG sold 14 daily newspapers and 3 non-daily newspapers to GateHouse Media in 2017.
In 2004, Morris unsuccessfully brought suit against PGA Tour, alleging that PGA Tour violated section 2 of the Sherman Act, codified at 15 U.S.C. § 2, by monopolizing the markets for (1) the publication of compiled real-time golf scores on the Internet, and (2) the sale, or syndication of those scores. In addition, Morris alleged that PGA Tour further violated section 2 of the Sherman Act by refusing to deal with Morris. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of PGA Tour because it found, inter alia, that PGA Tour had a valid business justification for its actions.
In 2010, Morris Publishing Group filed a pre-packaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization with $415 million in debt.
On October 14, 2015, it was revealed that Morris Communications Company VP of audience sent a company-wide email to maintain specific editorial positions to make a political point. This has put the organization into question relating to its ethics. Further issues arose with Morris Communications' failure to respond for comment.
In August 2017, Morris sold their daily and non-daily newspapers to GateHouse Media.
The company published 12 daily newspapers and 17 non-daily newspapers with a combined circulation in the range of 700,000.
Daily newspapers included:
- the St. Augustine Record in St. Augustine, FL
- the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, FL
- the Augusta Chronicle in Augusta, GA
- the Savannah Morning News in Savannah, GA
- the Topeka Capital-Journal in Topeka, KS
- the Amarillo Globe-News in Amarillo, TX
- the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal in Lubbock, TX
- the Peninsula Clarion in Kenai, AK
- the Juneau Empire in Juneau, AK
Non-daily newspapers included:
- the Athens Banner-Herald in Athens, GA
- the Columbia County News in Augusta, GA
- the Wadley Herald in Wadley, GA
- the Sylvania Telephone in Sylvania, GA
- North Augusta Today in Augusta, GA
- Effingham Now in Effingham County, GA
- Bryan County Now in Bryan County, GA
- Business in Savannah in Savannah, GA
- the Hampton County Guardian in Hampton, SC
- the People-Sentinel in Barnwell, SC
- the Jasper County Sun in Hardeeville, SC
- Hardeeville Today in Hardeeville, SC
- Bluffton Today in Bluffton, SC
- the Capital City Weekly in Juneau, AK
- the Homer News in Homer, AK
- Frenship Today in Lubbock, TX
- the Pine River Journal in Cass County, MN
- William S. Morris III, chairman
- William S. Morris IV, CEO
- Derek May, president of newspapers
- Craig S. Mitchell, senior vice president of finance, secretary, and treasurer
- "History - Morris Communications". Retrieved 10 August 2017.
- "Morris Publishing Completes Sale of Publications to GateHouse Media". Archived from the original on 28 June 2017. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
-  from Case Law. PGA Tour wins lawsuit against Morris Communications.
-  from The Florida-Times Union. Morris Communications to cut pay to all of it employees. (March 07, 2009)
- Mathis, Karen. "Buyer New Media Investment Group owns 130 papers in 36 states". Jax Daily Record. Jax. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
- "Alpha Media Acquires Morris Radio" from Radio Insight (May 18, 2015)
-  from Alaska Public. Leaked memo shows Morris misled Juneau Kenai newspaper readers. (October 14, 2016)
-  MORRIS COMMUNICATIONS ANNOUNCES SALE OF NEWSPAPER PUBLICATIONS TO GATEHOUSE MEDIA (August 9, 2017)
- "Non-daily newspapers of the Morris Publishing Group". Retrieved 10 August 2017.