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Health News FL taps Wilcox

6/2/2009 Health News Florida

Ben Wilcox of Tallahassee, a former journalist who ran Common Cause Florida until its office recently closed, has joined Health News Florida Inc. as executive director, the news service announced Monday.  Founder Carol Gentry, who temporarily carried the title executive director while running the news operation, will remain the editor.

The board of Health News Florida Inc., an online non-profit news service launched in March 2007, split the journalism and business-side functions into two jobs once the news service grew to the point that one person could not handle both roles. Equally important, said board president Jay Wolfson, It's important to have the business side and the newsroom operations separated to minimize the possibility of conflicts of interest, just as newspapers do.

Gentry and Wilcox will both report to the board of directors, which will function as publisher for the enterprise, Wolfson said..

Health News Florida Inc., an independent online news service focusing on Florida health issues, has named Ben Wilcox its new executive director. Wilcox is the past executive director of Common Cause Florida and is still the volunteer Chair of the organization’s State Board. Prior to his 10 years with Common Cause, he was the News Director for the Florida Public Radio Network and WFSU-FM in Tallahassee. As a journalist, he covered 23 sessions of the Florida legislature. As executive director of Health News Florida, Wilcox will help manage the not-for–profit business and work to promote and support its development.

Health News Florida, which began daily publication under a different name in March 2007, was founded by Carol Gentry, a veteran health journalist for the Wall Street Journal and several Florida newspapers including the St. Petersburg Times, Tampa Tribune and Orlando Sentinel. Gentry temporarily carried the title of executive director as well as editor until Health News Florida became large enough to separate the news-gathering from the business operations. She will remain the editor.

Health News Florida’s website, http://www.HealthNewsFlorida.org, provides daily coverage of health issues by its staff and correspondents and posts links to health-related stories from news sources around the state. It is not affiliated with any part of the health-care industry.

The non-profit news service is provided at no cost – relying on grants, donations and advertising, akin to a public radio model – so that Floridians who don’t have money and power have the same access as those who do to information that can affect their health and future. Subscribers sign up for free daily e-alerts that provide an overview of the top health stories of the day.

“This is truly an exciting opportunity to help raise Health News Florida to its full potential,” Wilcox said. “This online service may very well represent the future of journalism. It’s free to subscribe to and it’s for everyone interested in health care, both consumers and those who work in the industry.”

“Ben Wilcox is a great addition to our team at Health News Florida,” said Dr. Jay Wolfson, President of the Health News Florida volunteer Board of Directors and Distinguished Service Professor of Public Health and Medicine at the University of South Florida. “He’s well respected in non-profit and journalism communities statewide and is uniquely qualified to help us build the capacity and power of Health News Florida.”