WASHINGTON (AP) _ The National Geographic Society is getting a new chief executive to replace newspaper publisher Reg Murphy, who resigned.

Murphy's resignation, announced Thursday, takes effect in March. He will be succeeded by John Fahey, who joined National Geographic from Time-Life less than two years ago.

Murphy, 63, had moved the society into profit-making ventures such as TV movies and company stores, and expanded the reach of its venerable 109-year-old magazine. He laid off almost a quarter of the organization's staff in a cost-cutting move.

He joined the society in 1993 as second-in-command to Gilbert Grosvenor, a descendant of Alexander Graham Bell, whose family has run National Geographic from the start.

Murphy took over the top executive post 18 months ago. Grosvenor is still chairman and Murphy will remain as vice chairman of the society.

Murphy said he had planned to leave National Geographic after four years. He said he had accomplished his goals there and wanted to write some books and manage some small media businesses in which he holds partial ownership.

Before joining National Geographic, Murphy was chairman, president and publisher of The Sun of Baltimore, a former editor and publisher of the San Francisco Examiner and former editorial page editor of The Atlanta Constitution.

Murphy recruited Fahey about 20 months to run National Geographic Ventures, the for-profit subsidiary Murphy began in 1995.