For the past 45 years, 2 months and 25 days, The Alligator has been independent.
It’s a title we earned — one we made the second word on our masthead after an editor in 1971 published a list of abortion clinics in protest of state law. The rift between the student staff and then UF president, Stephen C. O’Connell, got so tense that the state attorney general ruled that to protect the First Amendment rights of the student journalists, UF and The Alligator should split. Though the editors didn’t plan the paper’s independence, they saw the value: the freedom to cover UF without restriction, to not worry about budgetary slashes if reporters offended the administration or Student Government.
But if you look at the editorial in our first independent paper on Feb. 1, 1973, much of the editors concerns could be copied and pasted into today’s. It talks about the need for editorial freedom but also the need for financial support.
Forty-five years later, it’s not only a concern of ours but of student-run newspapers across the country. A few weeks ago, the board of The Daily Campus at Southern Methodist University voted to dissolve its paper and go back to the university in face of financial woes. Alligator editors have a well-founded history of being bold. After seeing the Daily Campus re-affiliate with its university, we started a campaign to #SaveStudentNewsrooms, highlighting nationwide concerns of editorial independence and financial stability. It’s made a considerable amount of noise in the last 20 days, and in that time we’ve seen numerous other papers recount how their staff works for no pay, how administrations have prevented interviews with university employees and even universities suing their own students.
We work hard to keep you informed so you can cast your ballots in local elections, SG elections and even the presidential election. We have writers run out of class for breaking stories, and some wake up at the crack of dawn to pursue others. In between classes, exams and life, our staff is here because the long hours and low pay are worth it. We want you, dear reader, to know that we hope you hear our message in our last paper of the semester: We need your help in making sure The Alligator is here to stay for years to come.
If you pick up a paper, thank you. If you reach out to share your stories, thank you. As The Alligator joins other student-run publications in the push for more awareness, we ask that you help us transition into a digital-first publication. We still provide content online every day.
In that first editorial in 1973, one of the ending lines read, “For years The Alligator has come to you free. And it will continue to do so. Now we need your financial support.”
Forty-five years later, we’re echoing the call of past editors. Our staff earns meager wages for the work they put in. Newsprint costs are going up from tariffs. We will continue publishing for free, but independent student journalism comes with a cost. It needs your support.
Viva the Independent Florida Alligator.