Bill Atkinson

Bill Atkinson, left, is the new publisher of The Meridian Star. He is shown Thursday at The Star with his wife, Nicki. Atkinson is the publisher of the Crossville Chronicle in Crossville, Tennessee, and will be responsbile for both news organizations. The couple will split their time between both locations. Dave Bohrer / The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN, Miss. -- Bill Atkinson, an accomplished newspaper executive, has been appointed publisher of The Meridian Star.

His appointment was announced Thursday by Donna Barrett, president and CEO of CNHI, LLC., The Star's parent company.

"We knew for Meridian he was a good guy and he is going to do the right thing for Meridian," Barrett said.

Atkinson also retains his role as publisher of the Crossville Chronicle in Crossville, Tennessee. Publishers overseeing more than one publication has become common in the newspaper industry, Barrett said.

Atkinson has experience as publisher of group newspaper sites. Before being named publisher in Crossville in June, 2017, he was group publisher for nine years of Gulf Coast Newspapers & Courier Publications, Crescent Publishing, in Mid-Coast and Downeast Regions of Maine and Baldwin County, Alabama. Previously he was group general manager of the Lone Star News Group and publisher of the Cleburne Times-Review in Texas. He began his newspaper career in 1983 in the advertising department of the Crossville Chronicle.

"People should expect improvements and new products, and maybe reworking of some old products," Atkinson said. "There will be more interaction with the community and consumers.

"I would like people to view The Meridian Star as a friendly face. In time of need they can come to us and we'll help them."

He said he plans to be accessible to the staffs and community of both locations, no matter his physical location on any day. He will begin his work in Meridian next week.

Atkinson was among a rotation of publishers who had been helping at The Star since Alexander Gould resigned in May.

"He fell in love with the town and the people," Barrett said. 

Atkinson's wife, Nicki, echoed that sentiment and encouraged him to take the opportunity.

"The first time he came back from Meridian he had a glow on his face," Nicki Atkinson said. "He said I love those people. When he loves people, he pours himself into it."

The couple have two adult sons, both on active duty in the Army at Fort Bragg, North Carolina – Hayden, a combat medic, and Holden, a forward observer and paratrooper.

The Atkinsons will split their time between their farm in Tennessee and a home in Meridian. They enjoy the outdoors and travel and are committed to non-profits.

"What people here in the community should know is it's not a job," Nicki Atkinson said. "We look at this as truly a fun adventure and getting to know a new community and new people. We look at this with excitement."

The Meridian Star is a CNHI newspaper. Based in Montgomery, Alabama, CNHI is a leading provider of local news and information, offering a wide array of print and digital products in more than 130 communities in 22 states. For more information about CNHI, please visit www.cnhi.com.