WASHINGTON — Bill Adair, founding editor of the Tampa Bay Times' prize-winning PolitiFact website and the paper's Washington bureau chief, is leaving this summer to join Duke University as the Knight Professor of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy.
Alex Leary, an award-winning senior reporter for the Times, succeeds Adair as Washington bureau chief, Times Editor Neil Brown announced Thursday.
A national search for the next PolitiFact editor will begin soon, Brown said, adding that Adair will continue a relationship with PolitiFact as a contributing editor. PolitiFact, the Times' fact-checking operation, was recognized with a Pulitzer Prize in 2009, has won numerous online journalism awards and has expanded the fact-checking of political speech through more than 10 partnerships around the country.
"With Bill Adair's vision and energy the Times has created something special in the world of political journalism," Brown said. "We're proud and not at all surprised that such an esteemed institution as Duke wants to tap into Bill's creativity and enthusiasm for helping citizens participate in democracy. Meanwhile, the Times' commitment to PolitiFact's place at the epicenter of the fact-check journalism movement is as strong as ever. We are glad Bill will remain as an ally and consultant as we continue to grow PolitiFact."
Adair, 51, has been with the Times 24 years, the past 16 in Washington. He has covered transportation, aviation, Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court and national politics.
Leary, 38, joined the Times 12 years ago and has reported on local issues in Citrus, Pasco and Pinellas counties. His investigative work in the Times' Tallahassee bureau led to the 2009 resignation of Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom. He was promoted to the Washington bureau that year.
"Alex is one of the most respected reporters in Washington," Brown said. "No one is better qualified to bring national news to the citizens of Tampa Bay. His skill and journalistic honesty set the Times far apart from any competitors."