JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Justin Barney, Jacksonville's top high school sports reporter, is joining News4Jax as sports editor, WJXT News Director Kathryn Bonfield announced Thursday.
Barney will join the station Feb. 11 and will lead the station’s sports department and coverage on all News4Jax platforms. He was most recently sports editor for the Florida Times-Union.
“We have made significant changes to the way we approach sports over the last year, placing a much greater emphasis on covering local high school sports than ever before,” Bonfield said. “If you want to be the best at anything, rule number one is to hire the best people. Justin Barney is in a league by himself as the unquestioned local high school sports authority in Jacksonville. We’re thrilled to have him on our team.”
As sports editor at News4Jax, Barney will be in charge of all sports content and coverage, both on TV and online, and will be a regular contributor with on-air and online stories focused on local Jacksonville sports.
He will also handle daily assignments of sports reporters and photographers and future story planning. Teamed with News4Jax Sports Analyst Mark Brunell, and reporters Cole Pepper and Brian Jackson, Channel 4 will continue to deliver on the promise of being the local leader in high school sports coverage consistent with the station brand as Jacksonville’s one true local television station.
“I'm grateful for the opportunity to have a chance to work for the No. 1 media entity on the First Coast. I've been covering local sports in the area since the fall of 1998 and have enjoyed being able to tell those stories, local stories about our athletes and coaches and teachers in north Florida and south Georgia,” Barney said. “Many others remain to be told. I'm looking forward to being able to tell those alongside the talented and hard-working journalists already there. I can't wait to get started.”
“Our commitment to local sports has never been stronger than it is right now,“ WJXT/WCWJ Vice President and General Manager Bob Ellis said. “In the last year, our sports team has really re-made itself with significant positive changes in how we tell local sports stories. Viewers on TV and readers at News4Jax.com have told us loud and clear they’ve noticed. Having Justin on staff now takes this to another level.”
Prior to working in various positions at the Florida Times-Union, Barney was the sports editor at the St. Augustine Record. Barney has also appeared on many local radio and television shows in Jacksonville as the expert on high school sports in Jacksonville. He also grew up in Jacksonville, attending University Christian High School.
In the past year, Channel 4 and sister station CW17 have created and televised several high school games and events. The station has aired the Bold City Showdown high school football game in August, the Fortegra High School 9:12 Basketball Invitational in December and is in the planning stages to televise the High School 9:12 Classic, a high school baseball tournament, on Feb. 23. The station’s top-rated Football Friday high school football show will enter its 17th season this fall.