By Lou Phelps, Publisher, Savannah Business Journal
September 24, 2020 – On Sept. 1, Morris Multimedia, Inc., headquartered in Savannah, named Erica Baskin as publisher of Connect Savannah, one of the many publications the company owns in the U.S. Connect Savannah has been an established ‘alternative weekly’ newspaper in our city with a loyal following for many years.
Today, longtime editor Jim Morekis took to his personal Facebook page to announce his resignation from a job he has held for 20 years. His comments can be read on his FB page.
Morris Multimedia is among the largest privately held media companies in the country, founded in 1970 in Savannah by Charles H. Morris after his brother William “Billy” Morris was named publisher and president of the Savannah Morning and Evening News company, owned at that time by their mother.
Today, Morris Multimedia owns and operates more than 65 publications, network affiliate television stations, and other media related ventures in nine states and the Caribbean, a survivor in the difficult media industry, versus brother Billy who had to file a $550 million bankruptcy, and was then forced to sell off the Morning News and his remaining newspapers several years ago.
Termed “a newspaper veteran” in the company’s announcement, “Baskin comes to Savannah after serving in various roles for Fenice Community Media in Texas and Boone Newspapers in Alabama. In Texas, Baskin served as publisher of the weekly newspapers in Katy and Sealy. In Alabama, she served as the advertising director of the daily in Selma and as the publisher of the weekly in Madison,” according to the company.
According to the article published by Connect Savannah,“We are excited about bringing someone of Erica’s experience to Savannah,” said Charles H. Morris, Chairman and CEO of Morris Multimedia. “Her diverse experiences will help to take Connect Savannah to another level.”
Morekis has stated that Morris is seeking to go “in a new direction” with Connect Savannah.
“As we went through the interviewing process with Erica, several things impressed me. First, she and her husband fell in love with Savannah – with its history, with its people and as a place where they wanted to live. Second, she is a confident person who has a demonstrated ability to lead,” said Joe McGlamery, regional vice president for Morris Multimedia papers in Southeast Georgia. “Connect Savannah is in very capable hands with Erica at the helm.”
Morekis had been running the operation for many years, given latitude to write “independently,” he stated in his Facebook post Thursday afternoon. At least one other contract writer long associated with Connect Savannah will no longer be writing for the newspaper, as well.
In her role as publisher of Connect Savannah, Baskin will be responsible for all aspects of its print, digital and events portfolio.
“I am very excited to lead the Connect Savannah team in a diverse city steeped in history,” said Baskin. “I am looking forward to immersing myself into the community and meeting the people that make Savannah such a great city,” she stated in the article.
While Morekis’ often acerbic views will be missed by many - not missed by others who were in his target - his unique voice is the true loss to the dwindling pool of local journalists who have institutional knowledge about our city.
But, it is also important to realize that Charles Morris understands that all media must adapt to the new landscape of our industry, and its remaining revenue sources.
Adapt or die is the age old cliché.
Knowing his track record, I’m betting on the new vision of Charles Morris.