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Robert W. Hooker
Since joining the Times in 1971, Rob has held a number of posts, including county government reporter, state capital correspondent, political editor, state editor, business editor and metro editor. In 2001 he became a deputy managing editor. He supervises the work of journalists in bureaus spread over four counties and is the news department’s principal recruiter.
Rob was born in New Haven, Conn., and grew up in Chapel Hill, N.C. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history in 1969 from Davidson College, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and editor of the student newspaper. He received a master’s degree in history from Vanderbilt University in 1971, with a thesis on race relations and the Mississippi news media.
As a reporter and editor, Rob has been involved in a number of big projects: an investigation of Pinellas County government that helped send three county commissioners and two city attorneys to jail; a series on smuggling and public corruption that was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in local reporting; an investigation of guardianship that led to statewide reform; and a series on the University of Florida football program that helped topple the head coach.
Rob was the principal editor on a series by Lucy Morgan and Jack Reed on the Pasco County sheriff’s office that won a Pulitzer for investigative reporting in 1985. He also led a metro staff whose stories about big tobacco, riots in St. Petersburg and a local pastor who corrupted a national ministers organization were each Pulitzer finalists. The UF football stories earned first prizes from the Education Writers of America and the Associated Press Sports Editors.
In 1984, he researched and wrote a history of the Times on its 100th anniversary, and on its 125th anniversary he co-edited a book about the paper and Tampa Bay.
Rob, wife Ellen and their son, Matt, live in St. Petersburg.