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Editor hired for Florida Independent

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After an extensive statewide search, The American Independent News Network (AINN) is pleased to announce that it has appointed Cooper Levey-Baker to be the first editor of The Florida Independent.

“Cooper comes to The Florida Independent with a political news sensibility combined with a great understanding of Florida’s diverse landscape that will lend well to editing the newest site in The American Independent News Network,” said AINN President and CEO David Bennahum, “I am confident that Cooper will lead his team of reporters based across the state successfully toward our Network’s mission of impact journalism.”

“I am thrilled to take on this new challenge as editor for the brand new Florida Independent,” stated Levey-Baker. “I look forward to working with our reporters to grow this site from the ground up and tackling the difficult issues facing Floridians, maintaining the high standard of writing and investigative journalism for which The American Independent News Network is known.”

With half his life spent living in Sarasota, Fla., Levey-Baker has been the editor of city’s Creative Loafing, an alternative weekly newspaper, for the past year and half, previously serving as an events editor and reporter for the publication for five years. The Arts Council of Sarasota County recognized Levey-Baker for fiction writing in 2006, awarding him a John Ringling Fund Individual Artist Fellowship. In his spare time, Levey-Baker serves on the board of Forum Truth, a nonprofit organization that invites high-profile speakers to Sarasota to address the issues of the day. He is also a member of the steering committee of One Book Sarasota, a nonprofit effort aims to foster a love of reading in Sarasota County.

The Florida Independent will launch by June 1, 2010. The Knight Foundation awarded The Florida Independent project $352,000–the largest amount given–out of $4.3 million to 24 total other projects across the country. The projects represent the second-year winners of the Knight Community Information Challenge, a five-year, $24 million contest that helps community and place-based foundations find creative ways to use new media and technology to keep residents informed and engaged.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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