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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Bernie Machen's response to Journalism Department Advisory Council's letter

Dear Anne and Journalism Department Advisory Council,

Thank you for taking the time to write to me about the Independent Florida Alligator.

First, let me say that we appreciate the Alligator and want it to succeed. It is an excellent news source for our students and training ground for those studying journalism. Even in this time of major budget reductions, we have continued our long-standing support of the paper through regular advertising, which currently totals nearly $28,000 a year.

Our goal in moving toward modular newspaper racks is to enhance safety and aesthetics. When we started this initiative, there were 407 newspaper racks on campus containing 26 different publications. During hurricane season, these racks pose a serious hazard. It is not uncommon to remove racks from city streets as a storm approaches. By installing modular racks, the university will not be faced with the time-consuming task of monitoring which publishers have picked up their racks and which haven’t, thereby requiring university personnel to remove the potential projectiles. The new racks are also more attractive and are less visually intrusive in the historic part of campus where they have been installed.

When we started this process in 2010, all 20 of the publishers except the Alligator agreed to make the switch. That includes other free publications. In response to the Alligator’s concerns, we have met repeatedly with them and have delayed the full implementation of the conversion to the modular units by almost three years. We have also made changes in our plans. For example, when the Alligator’s representatives said they were concerned students wouldn’t know to look for the Alligator in the modular units, we offered to let them to put the Alligator’s distinctive logo and orange color on the modular units.

You should also know that we are not seeking to replace all of the Alligator’s racks. Half of their inventory of racks on campus—approximately 40 – will remain where they are.

Thank you for writing. I hope this answers some of your questions and concerns.


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