ATLANTA (AP) _ Arnold Rosenfeld, editor of the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman, was named Tuesday as editor of The Atlanta Constitution and The Atlanta Journal, Publisher Jay Smith announced.

Rosenfeld had been selected to become editor-in-chief of the Cox newspaper group in mid-1989 when Charles E. Glover, Cox's first editor-in-chief, retires. An announcement from the newspapers said Rosenfeld will be promoted to that job when Glover retires, but the date was not set.

Rosenfeld succeeds Bill Kovach, who resigned abruptly Nov. 4 after a management disagreement, partly over control of the Cox newspapers' Washington bureau.

Kovach's resignation led to a parade and rally Saturday in his support featuring prominent Atlanta citizens, including Pat Conroy, author of the best-selling book ''The Prince of Tides.'' Rally organizers said Kovach, a former Washington bureau chief of The New York Times, had spurred aggressive reporting on the city's business establishment.

Smith's announcement did not call Rosenfeld an interim editor, but noted that Rosenfeld will help him in a search for a permanent successor to Kovach.

''I have known and worked with Arnold Rosenfeld for 17 years,'' Smith said. ''He is a superb newspaperman in every way possible. He will keep us on the path of journalistic excellence and will strengthen the bond between our newspapers and their readers.''

Rosenfeld said, ''I hope to be able to preserve and enhance the fine, aggressive journalism that has been established here. I look forward to working with newspapers that reflect the interests and diversity of Atlanta and the South. I look forward to getting to know this community and this staff.''

Rosenfeld, 55, joined Cox Newspapers in 1969 as managing editor of the Dayton Daily News. He became editor of the Daily News, the original Cox newspaper, in 1976. He became editor of both Dayton newspapers, the Daily News and the Journal-Herald, in 1980. He was appointed editor of the Austin American-Statesman in 1984. The Atlanta, Austin and Dayton newspapers are all part of Cox Enterprises Inc.

Rosenfeld, who also has worked for newspapers in Houston and Detroit, was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in the field of commentary in 1984. He has reported from China, the Middle East, Cuba and the political conventions for his newspapers.

He is a director of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and has chaired that group's minority affairs committee. This year, he is heading ASNE's ''Future of Newspapers'' committee.