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The VI Daily News Hires New Executive Editor to Take on Government Transparency

This week the Virgin Islands Daily News announced Eunice Bedminister as its new Executive Editor after the departure of Gerry Yandel several weeks ago. Yandel departed after taking on a new role as Deputy Communications Director at Government House on St. Thomas.

Forming a Diverse Team

Governor Bryan has been steadily building a communications team, beginning with Richard Motta Jr., the previous Press Secretary to Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett. Motta served as the Congresswoman’s Press Secretary for over four years and functioned as a liaison to her office in D.C.

Plaskett’s team, who work within the U.S. House of Representatives are spread out between her office in D.C. and her offices in St. Croix and St. Thomas. Motta began working with the Bryan-Roach transition team following the territory’s 2018 General Elections and went on to serve as Communications Director for Government House in January. Motta has years of experience in the newsroom and a specific skill set from his work with Congresswoman Plaskett in the nation’s capital.

In late March, Amaziah George joined the team as the Digital Content Coordinator for Government House. George founded State of the Territory News two years ago and has taken a backseat from news and media to allow the Mint Team to independently report on government issues. 

State of the Territory News later announced that Biko McMillan, a published poet from St. Croix would succeed the paper’s founder as the new Editor-in-Chief. Makiel Cepeda has since been elevated to Creative Director of the Mint Team and also serves as the online newspapers in house Marketing Specialist. 

Shortly after, Government House hired Gerry Yandel as the Deputy Communications Director on St. Thomas. Yandel previously served as the Executive Director at The Daily News for nine years and has nearly thirty years of experience in print media.

The Virgin Islands Daily News was founded in 1930 and has won a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service based on nearly nine decades of reporting in the Virgin Islands — making it the oldest news publication in the territory.

A Transforming News Landscape

Government House’s communications team has caught the eye of local news publications, with a number of them announcing structural changes as the market shifts and talent switch sides.

The Virgin Islands Consortium announced Fan Subscriptions. Fan subscriptions allow Facebook users to support content creators on Facebook through a monthly subscription. Fan subscriptions allows Facebook users to support content creators through a monthly subscription.

Facebook has announced that it will begin taking a cut of Fan Subscriptions in 2020, which could affect the subscription model’s profitability margin for the Consortium.

The St. Croix Avis also lost one of its reporters after Markida Scotland joined Senator Allison DeGazon as her office’s Public Relations Coordinator in Christiansted. The Avis is currently the only newspaper in the territory without a viable online option to deliver its news to residents.

The Virgin Islands Source has been pulling from a network of freelance writers and has begun integrating video into its reporting. Since 1999, the Source has been recognized as the first online newspaper founded in the Virgin Islands. Video reporting appears to be the Source’s next major shift as the local market begins to play with content offerings.

With a long history of reporting and delivering heavy hitting news stories, The Daily News has renewed its focus on government transparency with the new administration. Bedminister’s new role at Virgin Islands Daily News could signal a shift for Governor Bryan, who has largely been free of any major controversies or scandals after taking office in January.

The departure of the paper’s previous Executive Editor and the return of Bedminister shows that the nearly century-old newspaper is regrouping with fresh talent. “I thank Archie for his confidence in me and I am looking forward to — in addition to prioritizing government accountability and transparency — continuing to ensure The Daily News remains a trusted, community-based newspaper that is both engaging and a vital source of information,” Bedminster said to The Daily News.

The biggest win for the local industry recently involves court orders and a number of developments that have forced WICO to become more transparent and release once confidential documents to the public.