Skip Foster, a veteran publisher and Florida native, will be the next publisher of the Northwest Florida Daily News and overseeweekly newspapers in Milton, Crestview, Destin and Walton County.
Friday morning’s announcement followed a nearly two-month search that drew candidates from across the country and ended with the hiring of Foster, publisher of the Shelby Star in Cleveland County, N.C., since 2007.
“I’m excited,” said Roger Quinn, central regional publisher for Halifax Media Group, which also owns the Shelby Star. “We looked across the country and found that the best candidate was one of our own.
“He has a proven track record of not just leading award-winning newspapers, but of making a newspaper — and himself — an integral part of the community it serves.”
Before assuming the publisher’s role at the Shelby Star, Foster served as its editor for 10 years. During that time it was part of the chain of newspapers that included the Northwest Florida Daily News, giving him familiarity with the “unbelievable” beauty of the region and its newspapers.
“I am honored to lead such a tremendous team in this growing and vibrant market,” Foster said. “No one provides better content and better marketing solutions than The Daily News, Destin Log, Walton Sun, Crestview News Bulletin and Santa Rosa's Press Gazette.”
“I can’t wait to get to know this community,” he continued. “My favorite part of being publisher is connecting the newspaper with readers, businesses and organizations in the markets we serve.”
Foster leaves a legacy of community involvement in Shelby.
Just this month, he was awarded the H. Eugene LeGrand Lifetime Achievement award from the United Way of Cleveland County. He was also named most outstanding volunteer on the 2007 United Way campaign and the 2010 volunteer of the year for the organization.
In 2009, Foster founded “Connect, Commit to Change,” a community event which brings together two groups: agencies which help children and new volunteers. The effort was launched in the wake of a shooting death in Shelby, after which a Star reporter heard a young child matter-of-factly ask “Who got killed?” Foster wrote a column asking the community to commit to doing more for the community’s children. A board was formed and last year, during the now-annual event, more than 200 volunteers signed commitment cards to help one of the more than 50 agencies that help children.
Foster has also served on the board of the Cleveland County Chamber and the legislative committee of the N.C. Press Association. He has served two stints on the vestry of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer and is a member of the Shelby Rotary Club.
At The Star, he helped launch and sustain a content innovation project that earned the paper international attention. In 2007, Foster was invited to speak in Paris, France, about The Star’s forays into multimedia journalism. Foster was a 2002 Ethics Fellow with the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., and helped write Poynter’s “Journalism without Scandal” report in 2003.
A native of Lakeland, Foster began his career as a sports writer in Hickory, N.C., in 1988, after graduating from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn. He moved to The Gaston Gazette in Gastonia, N.C., in 1989 and eventually was promoted to managing editor.
Foster is married to District Court Judge Anna F. (Dina) Foster, who will be resigning her seat to relocate to the Panhandle. They have three children: Mary Frances, 18; Matthew, 15; and Will, 11.