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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Journalist explains importance of telling Florida's stories

<p>UF alumnus and St. Petersburg Times journalist Jeff Klinkenberg
speaks at Pugh Hall on Monday evening. He urged Floridians to
preserve their history.</p>

UF alumnus and St. Petersburg Times journalist Jeff Klinkenberg speaks at Pugh Hall on Monday evening. He urged Floridians to preserve their history.

St. Petersburg Times journalist and UF alumnus Jeff Klinkenberg urged Floridians to take action and defend their history Monday in the Pugh Hall Ocora Room.

"Get off your butts, and speak up about the things that matter to you," Klinkenberg said.

One of those things that matters to Klinkenberg is the preservation of Florida culture.

"I'm not a political writer - I'm a storyteller," he said.

Klinkenberg's way of telling authentic stories of real Floridians is what separates him from other writers, said 74-year-old Frederick "Freddie" William Wood Jr. III, Evinston post office owner.

Klinkenberg said beneath every story, there is a deeper story.

The key to getting a good story, he said, is peeling back the layers.

"Sometimes stories are obvious, but what's below them is what makes them richer," Klinkenberg said.

Mike Foley, UF journalism professor, said Klinkenberg really demonstrates the power of storytelling.

"It's a real gift," said Foley, 65.

Klinkenberg said things aren't that complicated if you want to do your part in preserving the past. He said taking advantage of one's surroundings is what it means to be a Floridian.

"Some people live in Florida and never become Floridians," Klinkenberg said.

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Political science student Joey Whitesman, 19, said the fact that old Florida is disappearing really crushes the culture that exists here.

"If everywhere looks the same, why go anywhere?" Whitesman said.

Whitesman said he tries regularly to take Klinkenberg's advice about exploring.

"You see things you haven't - and probably would never see - when you go off the beaten path," Whitesman said.

When asked what his best stories are, Klinkenberg said they are always the ones he doesn't go looking for.

"When you are just traveling and exploring, and stories just fall in your lap - those are the best ones."

UF alumnus and St. Petersburg Times journalist Jeff Klinkenberg speaks at Pugh Hall on Monday evening. He urged Floridians to preserve their history.

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