NEW YORK (AP) _ Robert H. Giles, editor and publisher of The Detroit News, has been named senior vice president of The Freedom Forum and executive director of its Media Studies Center.

Mark A. Silverman, executive editor and vice president of The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., will succeed Giles in Detroit.

A successor to Silverman in Louisville will announced soon, said Ed Manassah, publisher of the Courier-Journal, which like the News is owned by Gannett Co. Inc.

Giles, immediate past president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and president of the Associated Press Managing Editors in 1988, also will be a member of the forum's senior management team.

``Bob Giles brings the right blend of news experience and academic insight to lead the Media Studies Center into the 21st century,'' Charles L. Overby, chairman-elect and chief executive officer of the foundation, said in a statement Monday.

The Freedom Forum is a nonpartisan, international foundation dedicated to a free press and free speech. The Media Studies Center, located in New York, is the nation's first institute for the advanced study of communication.

Giles, who will be 64 in June, told a News staff meeting he had planned to stay at the newspaper for another year before retiring but ``the opportunity to work for several more years in a senior position with The Freedom Forum where I can continue to have a role in journalism was too good to pass up.''

``The prospect of beginning a new career at this stage in life is very exciting,'' he said, ``but not without its difficult moments. Saying goodbye to a group of journalists who have met high standards of professionalism, courage and loyalty is the most difficult of all.''

Giles is currently president of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. He was named editor of The Detroit News in 1986 and editor and publisher three years later.

At The Freedom Forum, he will succeed Gerald M. Sass, the executive vice president retiring June 1.

Nancy Maynard, 50, chairwoman of the Media Studies Center, will leave June 1 to become executive director of Newseum-New York, an interactive museum of news. Newseum-New York is a satellite gallery of the Newseum in Arlington, Va., which was opened last month by The Freedom Forum and tells the story of news from its origins to the high-tech present.

Silverman, 47, joined Gannett in 1986 as senior managing editor of its Suburban Newspapers division in Westchester County, N.Y.