Virgil Newton

Virgil Newton

Year Inducted: 1993

Newton was managing editor of the Tampa Tribune from 1943 through 1965. His crusading form of journalism led to his being called the father of investigative reporting in Florida.

He helped bring about a new city charter in Tampa in 1945 and the establishment of the Minimum Foundation School Funding Law in 1947. He led a successful battle against gambling in Tampa and established the first newspaper capital bureau in Tallahassee in 1949.

Newton vigorously attacked secrecy in government, leading former Governor Leroy Collins to say that he laid the groundwork for Florida’s “Government in the Sunshine” law.

He took the fight to Washington as president of APME and of Sigma Delta Chi and wrote a book, Crusade for Democracy, detailing his open government crusades.

Newton retired in 1969, following a heart attack. He died after another heart attack in December 1977, leaving an indelible print on Florida journalism.