The newspaper traces its history to the Southern Banner newspaper that first published on March 20, 1832.
In 1921, the newspaper merged with the Athens Herald to become the Athens Banner-Herald. Earl Braswell served as the newspaper's publisher, a position he held until 1965. That same year, Billy and Charles Morris purchased the newspaper.
On June 17, 1965, the weekly Athens Advertiser changed its name to the Athens Daily News and became a seven-day morning paper, competing with the afternoon Athens Banner-Herald. Glenn Vaughn wrote in Athens Daily News' first editorial page: "Our goal is to produce a daily newspaper that will be equal to this magnificent community." Lewis Grizzard served as one of the newspaper's first sports writers.
On December 24, 1967, the Morris family, which owned the Athens Banner-Herald, bought the Athens Daily News. The Morris family continued publishing both papers, though eventually both editorial staffs merged.
In 1991, the News and Banner-Herald moved into a new office located at the corner of Thomas and Broad streets. The building is known as The News Building.
In 1996, the newspapers started a Web page, Athenaeum. The following year, the newspaper started OnlineAthens.com, its current Web page.
In 2001, the News and Banner-Herald merged into a single morning paper under the Banner-Herald name.
The newspaper routinely wins awards in Georgia Press Association and Georgia Associated Press competitions, including Story of the Year honors in 2002, 2004, and 2006.