Columnist Ernest Hooper to become Brandon Bureau Chief for Tampa Bay Times
It's a season of change at the soon-to-be Tampa Bay Times, as longtime columnist Ernest Hooper becomes chief of the newspaper's Brandon bureau full-time. Hooper will still write columns, only not as often, serving as top editor for the bureau and helping guide the Times' coverage of eastern Hillsborough County.
He will succeed current chief Sherri Day, who has been promoted to an assistant metro editor job in Tampa. Day, who came to the Times in 2004 after working at the New York Times, will supervise Tampa's courts and police coverage, and assist with breaking news and general assignment work.
Both Day and Hooper are expected to start their new roles next month.
Hooper got his feet wet in the editing job earlier this year, when he subbed for Day during her maternity leave. These moves are important, not only because Hooper is one of the Times' most visible columnists, but because he and Day are among the newspaper's highest-ranking black staffers.
"As someone who has lived in the Brandon area for nearly 19 years, I've witnessed how the Times has grown into 'the paper' for so many of my neighbors,'' Hooper said in an internal memo released on the job changes. "I see no reason why we won't continue to win over more folks, given the talent of the current staff.''
According to the memo, Hooper is University of Florida graduate who "started at the Times in 1992, after stints at the Leesburg Daily Commercial, the Gainesville Sun and our competition across the river. He achieved a career goal when he became the NFL writer for the Times in 1997. A few years later, Ernest started columnizing, developing a voice that has made him one of the best known names in Tampa Bay."