Gulf Coast Media names new leadership group

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Vince Johnson, publisher of The Sumter Item in Sumter, South Carolina, has been named group publisher of both The Sumter Item and Gulf Coast Media, co-owners Jack and Kyle Osteen announced this week.

In corresponding moves, The Item’s executive editor, Kayla Green, has been named executive editor of both The Item and Gulf Coast Media, and Micah Green has been named chief digital officer of both.

Parks Rogers has moved from his role as publisher of Gulf Coast Media to serve the same role at the Lexington County Chronicle in Lexington, South Carolina. The weekly newspaper was also recently purchased by Jack and Kyle Osteen.

Gulf Coast Media consists of newspapers serving numerous communities across Baldwin County, Alabama, as well as tourism-related publications and GulfCoastNewsToday.com, a website dedicated to the Alabama Gulf Coast. The newspapers are published under four different names: The Baldwin Times, The Courier, The Onlooker and The Islander.

Gulf Coast Media was purchased by brothers Jack, Kyle and Graham Osteen as part of OPC News LLC in 2014. Last week, OPC News split into two separate companies. In the agreement, Graham Osteen, his wife, Julie, and their son, Hugh, now own two weekly newspaper companies based in the Jacksonville, Florida area and another in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Jack and Kyle Osteen co-own Gulf Coast Media in Alabama, a newly formed company.

The Sumter Item launched in 1894 and has been owned by five generations of Osteens, representing South Carolina’s oldest continuously family-owned newspaper. Johnson has been with The Sumter Item since 2017, becoming its first-ever publisher to not be part of the Osteen family. Since then, The Item has earned national accolades each year for local media growth and innovation.

“We’re excited to bring a reliable, exciting brand of local news to Baldwin County and the Alabama Gulf Coast,” Johnson said. “Local news is critically important to the quality of life in any community. We want to help ours here be more informed, be more engaged and live better lives.”

Under Johnson’s leadership, The Sumter Item was named one of America’s ’10 Newspapers That Do It Right’ in 2019 and one of three finalists, along with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and The Salt Lake Tribune, for the Mega Innovation Award for newspapers at the 2020 Mega Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. He has also served on the executive committee of the South Carolina Press Association.

Prior to Sumter, Johnson was publisher of the Forsyth County News just north of Atlanta, Georgia, where his team won the 2016 Mega Innovation Award for newspapers. He is a graduate of Samford University and has also worked in newspapers in south Georgia and California, leading digital development.

Johnson has lifelong ties to Baldwin County. His parents, Bill and Cheryl Johnson, have lived in Foley for nearly 20 years, and his brother, Gaines, graduated from Gulf Shores High School before beginning his professional career. Johnson is married to Brooke Johnson, a real estate agent with RE/MAX of Gulf Shores.

The Greens have been a part of award-winning teams with Johnson, starting at the Forsyth County News, where they met each other. They have been with The Sumter Item since October 2017 and married in 2019.

Kayla Green is from Gainesville, Florida, and received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Florida. She has worked in local news since 2009 and has served various roles in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, as well as Tel Aviv, Israel. In March, she was named one of Editor & Publisher’s “25 Under 35,” an annual list of news professionals leading the industry in preserving and innovating the future of journalism.

Micah Green grew up in Laurel, Mississippi, and is a graduate of Mississippi State University. He has worked in newsrooms in Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina as a photographer and various roles in visual and creative content direction and innovation. His photography has been featured in the New York Times and for Bloomberg and Reuters.