By Times staff

TAMPA — Tampa Tribune president and publisher William Barker is leaving the paper, the company said Wednesday.

He will assume a similar role next month at the Naples Daily News, which is owned by the E.W. Scripps company. With about 70,000 daily subscribers, the Naples paper has about a third of the Tribune's circulation of about 191,000.

Barker became Tampa Tribune publisher in March 2012, seven months before Media General sold the paper to Revolution Capital Group, a California-based private equity firm.

"This has been a difficult decision," Barker said in a statement. "It was not an opportunity I sought, but rather one that when presented to me, I weighed carefully and found to be a good fit in terms of long-term goals and opportunities for my career and my family."

The Tribune's owners told employees during a town hall meeting Wednesday. The company said it would launch a search for a new publisher.

Barker, 50, worked with the Tribune for nine years and led every department, including news, advertising and the launch of the St. Petersburg Tribune.

Messages and emails left for Revolution executives were not returned.

The Naples paper has a Sunday circulation of about 85,000 while the Tribune's is about 281,000.