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Tampa Tribune fills top news position

Frank Denton, the new editor and vice president, likes to take an active approach in addressing community issues.

HELEN HUNTLEY
Published January 13, 2004

TAMPA - The Tampa Tribune named a new editor and vice president Monday with a background in the activist approach known as "civic journalism."

Frank Denton, 58, editor of the Wisconsin State Journal, will report to work in Tampa in early February.

In addition to working with the Tribune, he will work with the news staffs at affiliates WFLA-TV and TBO.com. The top news position at the paper has been vacant since former executive editor Gil Thelen became publisher last year.

Denton spent the past 17 years as editor of the Journal, a paper with about half the Tribune's circulation of 210,264 daily and 285,487 Sundays, based on the most recent audit report.

Under his leadership, the Journal became known for its civic journalism, also known as public or community journalism, in Madison, Wis., in collaboration with a local television station. The efforts included town hall meetings and special reports labeled "City of Hope" and "Schools of Hope," which focused on finding solutions to community problems.

Denton once did some research on how to reach readers that involved the Tribune's competitor, the St. Petersburg Times. He and a group of researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison tested different styles of newspaper writing in a 1993 project in cooperation with the Times and its owner, the Poynter Institute. They found that Times readers prefer a story-telling style of writing over a traditional news style of telling the important facts first.

Denton previously worked at newspapers in Michigan, Texas, Alabama and Ohio. His academic credentials include a master's degree from Columbia University and an MBA and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He could not be reached for comment Monday.

- Helen Huntley can be reached at huntley@sptimes.com or 727 893-8230.

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