The UF College of Journalism and Communications is providing $100,000 annually for the next two years to The Independent Florida Alligator.
The Alligator will receive the money on or before July 1 each year, according to a press release from the CJC.
The money is coming from the Office of the Provost, which provides the college with money to support student professional experiences, said Diane McFarlin, dean of the CJC, in an email.
This agreement makes it very clear the newspaper’s independence is not affected in any way, McFarlin said. The Alligator will remain independent from the university, as it has since 1973.
“CJC and The Alligator have always been closely aligned,” McFarlin said. “I think this will deepen that mutual respect — The Alligator is a big part of our heritage and has played an outsized role in the career paths of so many of our most outstanding students.”
The Alligator is experiencing the same financial challenges as other community newspapers, McFarlin said. However, the major difference is most local newspapers can fall back on revenue from subscriptions.
“The Alligator is free, it doesn’t have that option,” McFarlin said. “As a key stakeholder, we might have stepped in sooner, but there was a reluctance to do anything that might appear to compromise The Alligator’s independence.”
Rick Hirsch, Alligator board member and managing editor of the Miami Herald, said an experience like The Alligator is difficult for a school to replicate.
“There is no environment that the universities can provide that gives students the opportunity to bear complete decision-making responsibility for how they do news,” said Hirsch.
Alligator board member Aaron Sharockman, the executive director of PolitiFact, said he is excited UF and McFarlin recognize the value of The Alligator.
Sharockman said student-run newspapers such as The Alligator are great “learning labs” for students who are not only looking to get into journalism, but for students interested in photography, social media and video production.
“The Alligator is a great resource that the school, quite frankly, benefits from, and I am just so thrilled that the university is recognizing that and is willing to support The Alligator so that it can continue to be an important part of the university fabric,” Sharockman said.