Charles H. Morris, CEO of Savannah-based Morris Multimedia, Inc., which owns the Coastal Courier and Bryan County News, announced Monday the upcoming retirement of long-term Morris newspaper publisher Randy L. Morton.
“It is with mixed emotions and sincere gratitude for his years of service to the company that we are announcing this week Randy’s retirement effective Aug. 17,” Morris said.
“I want to personally thank him for his many years of service and dedication. He has been an integral part of this company’s success for more than four decades.”
Morton, who received the Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in Psychology from Georgia Southern College – now Georgia Southern University, began his career with Morris on August 17, 1973, as a retail advertising salesman at the Statesboro Herald, farm editor in 1976, advertising director in 1977 and general manager in 1979. Morton worked with Statesboro Publisher Joe McGlamery in 1980 to launch the Tri-County Pennysaver in Hinesville. After Morris acquired the local newspaper, the Coastal Courier in Hinesville in 1982, Morton was named publisher of the Coastal Courier in Hinesville and moved there in 1983.
Under Morton’s leadership, the Hinesville operation grew to include the Patriot (a military contract publication now called the Frontline) and a second shopper publication in nearby Jesup, the Pineland Pennysaver.
During his time in Hinesville, the Coastal Courier was recognized by the Georgia Press Association as the best weekly newspaper in its circulation class on multiple occasions.
In 1994, Morton was assigned to the Savannah Pennysaver as general manager before returning to Statesboro as publisher of the seven-day Statesboro Herald in 1995. Shortly after that came new print publication startups: Real Estate Today, Connect Statesboro, Moments Magazine and a re-launch of the Statesboro Pennysaver.
It was during this period that the Herald team began a serious effort to explore the use of the Internet. Under Morton’s leadership, the Statesboro Herald developed a website, statesboroherald.com, and began populating the site with a broad base of content from the Herald’s staff as well as wire service content.
“During this period, the Statesboro Herald was recognized as one of the more innovative and progressive small market daily newspapers in Georgia,” said Joe McGlamery, president of the Statesboro Herald. “Randy was one of the first adaptors in small market daily newspapers to embrace the potential of the World Wide Web as an integral part of our newspaper operations. Randy also built a digital video recording studio here and started Studio Statesboro as executive producer. An audio studio was also created that is still used today for live radio shows and monitors local emergency channels for listeners,” McGlamery said.
Under Morton’s leadership, the Herald won first place awards for General Newspaper Excellence in 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2011 in the annual Georgia Press Association Better Newspaper Contest for daily newspapers under 8,000 circulation.
In 2009, StatesboroHerald.com was honored as best newspaper website in the state by the Georgia Press Association in 2008 and 2009. In 2009, it was named best website in the nation by the National Newspaper Association, across all size categories.
After successfully leading the Herald for more than 17 years, Morton and his wife Patricia moved to Southern California in 2012 and became publisher of the seven-day Morris Multimedia newspaper, The Santa Clarita Valley Signal near Los Angeles.
Morton returned to Southeast Georgia in 2014 as director of strategic multimedia initiatives and remained in this position until his retirement next week.
Morton said his career with Morris Multimedia has been both interesting and challenging.
“I appreciate all the opportunities to grow that have been given to me over the years with Morris Multimedia. I’ve been very fortunate to have worked with some fantastic people and made some great friends. Without them, none of what we have accomplished would have been possible. I’m really going to miss them,” he said.
“As to why I am retiring, I think 45 years with the company is enough, at least for now,” Morton added. “I’ve learned a lot, traveled a lot and had some fun doing it. I hope I’ve made a difference.
“Now, I’d like to spend more time with my family who has moved with me over these years. Many know I grew up on a farm. Who knows, I might try being a farmer again and help my wife Trish with the Lee’s Syrup operation in Bulloch County started by my late father-in-law, Lannie Lee.”
The Mortons have two children.
Their daughter Kimberley is the Southeast Regional Residential Treatment Specialist for the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice, and their son Brannen owns and operates Top Dog Digital LLC, an internet marketing service company.
Both live on St. Simons Island, Ga.