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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) _ Ronnie Agnew has been promoted from managing to executive editor of The Clarion-Ledger, becoming the first black to lead the once pro-segregationist newspaper.

Agnew, 39, succeeds Shawn McIntosh, who resigned earlier this month to become a deputy managing editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

``Ronnie Agnew is an experienced journalist and manager and Mississippi native son,'' said Publisher Bill Hunsberger, who named Agnew to the top editing post Thursday. ``He joined us a year-and-a-half ago as managing editor and, in that time, has shown he has the skills to lead the state's largest newspaper organization.''

Agnew, who was born in Tupelo, graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1984. After graduating, he became a reporter for The Greenwood Commonwealth and later was a reporter and assistant city editor at The Cincinnati Enquirer. He became managing editor of The Hattiesburg American in 1993 and was editor of The Dothan (Ala.) Eagle from 1997 until he joined The Clarion-Ledger in February 2001.

``I can't tell you how elated I am to have such an honor. This paper and the impact it has in this state every day are just incredible,'' Agnew said. ``I look forward to being in this role for a very long time.''

In 1982, Gannett Co. bought Mississippi Publishers Co., which included The Clarion-Ledger and 11 other newspapers, from its longtime owner, the Hederman family of Jackson.

During the civil rights battles of the 1950s and '60s, The Clarion-Ledger would often take editorial stands in favor of segregation.