The appointment of Vince Johnson as the fifth publisher in the history of The Sumter Item adds another footprint to the one first planted by Hubert Graham Osteen, who founded the first small town daily in South Carolina in 1894 with the slogan "First, the growth of Sumter."
Vince, as today's story shows, is an experienced and highly qualified award-winning newspaperman.
The Sumter Item is the oldest continuously family-owned newspaper in South Carolina, and one of the oldest in the nation.
The reason we have been around so long is because my grandfather, father, me, and my three sons have been fortunate enough to hire good people who wanted to serve not just readers, but communities through the pages of their hometown newspaper.
We are confident Vince Johnson will keep the ball rolling, and he and his wife Brooke will find Sumter to be one of the best communities they've ever lived in. They are sure to make new friends among the welcoming people in the Gamecock City.
We believe Sumter Item readers and the community are in for a treat as Vince and Brooke become Sumterites.
- Hubert D. Osteen Jr.
The Sumter Item has named its first non-family publisher in the newspaper's 123-year history.
William Vincent "Vince" Johnson Jr., former publisher of Forsyth County (Cumming, Georgia) News, is the fifth publisher of the locally owned, independent South Carolina newspaper.
He follows Sumter Item founder Hubert Graham Osteen (1894-1955); Hubert Duvall Osteen Sr. (1955-1987); Hubert Duvall Osteen Jr. (1987-2005) and John Duvall "Jack" Osteen (2005-2017).
In a statement, the Osteen family said that bringing a young, versatile leader to Sumter marks a new era in the company's long history.
"We are proud to have attracted someone as talented as Vince to our company and to Sumter. His proven track record as a modern community publisher will serve both our newspaper and Sumter in countless ways."
Johnson has been publisher of Forsyth County News since 2014, and his team received the 2016 Mega-Innovation Award for newspapers as judged by the Harvard Business School.
From 2012 to 2014, he was chief multimedia officer of the Santa Clarita Valley Signal in Valencia, California, and from 2007 to 2012 he was director of audio/video operations for the Statesboro (Georgia) Herald.
He received his Bachelor of Arts in Journalism in 2006 as a cum laude graduate of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, and is a 2002 graduate of Jefferson County High School in Dandridge, Tennessee.
Johnson is married to the former Brooke Vanbuskirk of Gainesville, Georgia, whose parents are Mark and Michele Vanbuskirk. His parents, Bill and Cheryl Johnson, live in Foley, Alabama.
Most recently, Brooke has worked for the American Cancer Society as a community specialist and enjoys being involved in community development, events and volunteer efforts.
Looking forward to new challenges
For the past 10 years, Johnson has been with Morris Multimedia Inc. in Savannah, Georgia, the parent company of Morris Newspaper Corp. and Morris Network, which is among the largest privately held media companies in the United States.
Johnson progressed from an entry-level videographer hired through a web ad into a noted digital trendsetter and a premier leader in the newspaper industry.
"I'm passionate about this industry and helping guide it into the next generation. I've enjoyed my 10 years with Morris Multimedia, but after visiting Sumter, I knew this was an opportunity I wanted to explore."
"We are very excited to welcome Vince and Brooke to the Sumter community," said outgoing Editor and Publisher Jack Osteen.
"I look forward to making his transition as smooth as possible, as he will be a great fit for Sumter and The Sumter Item. We are very fortunate to be able to bring someone of Vince's caliber and talent level to help The Sumter Item thrive well into the future."
Brothers Graham, Kyle and Jack Osteen said, "As co-owners of Osteen Publishing, we will collectively focus on working with the five publishers who lead our operations, which include Sumter, South Carolina; Clay County, Florida; Ponte Vedra, Florida; Baldwin County, Alabama; and Las Cruces, New Mexico."
The company's eight community newspaper titles include: The Sumter Item; Clay Today in Jacksonville, Florida; The Ponte Vedra Recorder in Ponte Vedra, Florida; The Baldwin Times, The (Fairhope) Courier, The Foley Onlooker, and The (Gulf Shores) Islander in Baldwin County, Alabama; and The Las Cruces Bulletin in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
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