The Alligator was founded in 1906 as The University News, which was an independent, student-owned newspaper created to serve the University of Florida when it opened in Gainesville. In 1912, the newspaper became a part of the University of Florida administration, and was renamed the Florida Alligator.
The Faculty Committee on Student Publications first governed the newspaper on campus. In the early 1930's that committee was replaced by a committee composed of students and faculty, the Board of Student Publications. The Board established policy for the Office of Student Publications, which was responsible to the UF president for operations of the Alligator, the Seminole (the yearbook), Florida Magazine, and F Book (an orientation manual). Through the years the Office of Student Publications published several other publications from time to time. Those included humor (Orange Peel; The New Orange Peel), literary (Florida Quarterly), and general-interest magazines (Release, et al).
For many years, the career-staff of the Office of Student Publications consisted of a full-time secretary to run the office and a part-time executive secretary to the Board, who was the publications' chief administrator. Until 1962, the executive secretary was a faculty member of the Department of Journalism. Three of the distinguished faculty who served in that position were Dr. John Paul Jones Jr., Prof. H. G. (Buddy) Davis and Prof. Hugh Cunningham. That year the paper hired the first full-time executive secretary.
The following are those who have served as full-time Executive Secretary/ General Manager of the Florida Alligator and The Independent Florida Alligator
- K. B. Meurlott* 1962 - 64 Executive Secretary
- Bill Epperheimer 1964 - 65 Executive Secretary
- Gary Burke 1965 - 66 Executive Secretary
- King White 1966 - 68 Executive Secretary; Director of the Office of Student Publications
- John Detweiler 1968 - 69 Executive Secretary; Director of the Office of Student Publications
- Brent G. Myking 1969 - 72 Executive Secretary; Director of the Office of Student Publications; General Manager
- C. E. Barber 1972 - 73 Executive Secretary; Director of the Office of Student Publications; General Manager
- Tony Kendizior 1973 - 75 General Manager
- C. E. Barber 1976 - President; General Manager
For many years, the editor of the newspaper was elected in the campus wide elections. Editors, and some of the other staff members at various times, ran for the "office" of editor, etc. They slated to a particular party, ran advertisements and spoke before groups of students to seek votes.
At some time that method was changed so the editor was selected by a special super committee comprised of the regular Board of Student Publications plus the chancellor of the Honor Court, the president of the student body and the president of Florida Blue Key.
The selection committee was changed in the late sixties to membership of the Board of Student Publications alone. When the newspaper became independent of UF, the selection was by the Board of Directors as it is today. The Alligator became a daily newspaper in 1963 and ceased being printed at the (then) Gainesville Daily Sun. While at the Sun, the Alligator was composed in that plant, using hot lead composition and letterpresses. The Alligator left the Sun to be printed out of town by the offset printing process. It was one of the first college newspapers in the nation to go to what was known as "cold type" and offset printing.
Each early morning of publication, the newspaper materials were driven south to Leesburg, Florida to be printed at the daily Leesburg Commercial, a round trip of more than 130 miles. Some years later, The Ocala Star-Banner won the printing bid and that shortened the trip to a round trip of about 75 miles early each morning.
When The Star-Banner dropped their commercial printing business, two former employees started Web Printers of Florida in Ocala. They were successful at winning the printing contract, and printed the newspaper until they were bought out by Carlson Color Graphics of Ocala. Years later, the newspaper was printed for a short time at Florida Crown Printing in Maxville, a few miles north of Lawty. It then returned to Carlson in Ocala.
Within a year, the newspaper began printing at The Gainesville Sun, which by then had switched from letterpress to offset printing. It is still printed in their plant.
Through the many years of its existence, The Alligator has varied in its size and dimensions. The newspaper originally, and for many years, was standard (or broadsheet) size. During World War II, it published as a tabloid with fewer pages due to the paper shortages. After the war it returned to being full-sized until 1962 when it became a daily tabloid.
For many years, the Office of Student Publications was on campus, located in the basement of what was then the Florida Union. It is now the Manning Dauer Building. In 1968, the office was moved to a brand-new suite of offices on the third floor of the J. Wayne Reitz Union. It was across a lobby from the offices of Student Government.
In 1973, the newspaper became independent of the University of Florida and was given a grace period from February until August to move into quarters across University Avenue from the campus.
The history of The Alligator is its stories and its stands on issues. But it is also in the caliber of the people who were once students here, free to put into practice at the newspaper what they were learning in class at the University of Florida. In journalism alone, our alumni include at least four subsequent Pulitzer Prize winners.
Alligator alumni are at almost every daily newspaper in Florida, and many of the weeklies. They include David Lawrence Jr., professor at Florida International University, former chairman of the Herald Publishing Company and former publisher of The Miami Herald; Edward Sears, editor of The Palm Beach Post; Louis Perez, editor of The (Lakeland) Ledger; William Dunn, associate managing editor of The Orlando Sentinel, and many, many others.
In addition, Alligator alumni are at newspapers throughout the nation. They include Walker Lundy, editor of the St. Paul Pioneer Press; Keith Moyer, editor of the Fresno Bee; Karen DeYoung, assistant managing editor at The Washington Post; plus those at the Los Angeles Times, Detroit Free Press, Atlanta Constitution and Journal, and numerous others.
Then there are Mindi Kiernan, vice president of Knight-Ridder; Tom Kennedy, the former director of photography at National Geographic and now the director of photography and design at WashingtonPost.Newsweek Interactive; Nick Tatro, AP bureau chief in Israel, Ian Johnson, chief of Asian bureau, Wall Street Journal; Chris Fontaine, associate editor of The Cambodia Daily; Dennis Kneale, co-executive editor at Forbes Magazine.
There are John Paul Jones, dean emeritus of UF's College of Journalism and Communications; H. G. Davis, Distinguished Services Professor Emeritus and Pulitzer Prize winner; Jean Chance, renowned professor of journalism, Clifford Marks, vice president of ESPN, John Detweiler, Chairman Emeritus of the UF Department of Public Relations, Richard Shelton, Executive Director of the Florida Press Association and David Klein, associate publisher and editor of Advertising Age.
In addition to those and many other journalists and professors, there are prominent attorneys, authors, educators, business leaders, judges and public servants throughout Florida and the nation who once served on The Alligator staff. Almost to a person, they praise the newspaper for the tremendous experience they received during their training.
In 1978, several Alligator alumni gathered to form the Alligator Alumni Association.
Since then, thousands of alumni have been located and have joined the association. The association's purpose is to stand behind and strengthen the purposes of the student newspaper.
"I look back on my Alligator days with the fondest of memories. Sure, I remember the hard work...sure I remember the tough times...but, most of all, I remember that The Alligator was a wonderful start on the best career there is - newspapering."
Whether you're an English or journalism major looking for clips, a Web designer looking for a site, or an amateur commentator looking for an audience, the Alligator can help you get there. Here are some of the entry-level opportunities at the Alligator.
If you're looking for real-world experience in selling advertising, developing relationships with customers and laying out ads, consider applying for an internship in the Alligator's advertising department. The advertising department is critical to the Alligator because the paper runs solely on ad revenue.
We ask that you make a two-semester commitment if you decide to apply for an internship in advertising. Working 12 to 15 hours a week, interns attend training sessions and are paired with a sales representative to learn the basics of Alligator advertising for a semester. With this preparation, interns go on to become paid sales representatives for a semester.
The advertising department usually hires interns during the first two weeks of the semester, but positions may be open any time. To apply, contact the intern coordinator at 376-4482 during business hours or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Everyone has an opinion, but few people make good columnists. But if you keep up with the news and have fresh insight into what's happening, then you should consider applying to be a columnist. They usually write on a theme and from a certain perspective, such as a liberal or a conservative, and publish their column on a certain day of the week. Successful columnists are fresh, fun and guaranteed to gain a wide readership.
To apply for a columnist position, talk to the opinions editor at the beginning of the semester.
As a copy editor, you'll ensure the accuracy of stories. The responsibility that comes with copy editing is sure to help you in future endeavors whether they might be graduate school or an editing internship.
Copy editors work late, from 5 p.m. to about midnight, and are paid by the shift. If you're interested in working as a copy editor, stop by to take the copy editing test, which covers Associated Press style, spelling, grammar and fact checking skills. You do not need to be a journalism major, but knowing AP Style is a must. Contact the copy desk chief about positions available.
Production staff includes graphic designers and layout designers. Graphic designers make the paper every day, creating advertising during the day and laying out the news at night. If you are considering a career in graphic design at the Alligator you develop should have a grasp of programs such as Adobe InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator.
All graphic design positions are paid by the hour and may also get internship credit if they arrange it with their professors. Ad graphic designers, who work during the day, have flexible hours that are built around their schedules. News graphic designers, who lay out the content of the paper at night, work various shifts between 6 p.m. and 1 a.m.
Graphic designers are usually hired and trained at the end of a semester in preparation for the next. If you're interested in a production job, fill out an application at the Alligator office at 1105 W. University Ave between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Student photographers' level of involvement at the Alligator is largely up to them. By being available and reliable and consistently submitting feature photos, photographers can get the clips and experience they need to land a great job or internship after college.
Most photographers are not paid and work on a contributing basis with their own equipment. Bring in a portfolio of your work or some feature photos to show the editor. Also, you must be able to write good, accurate cutlines.
Whether you're looking to try your hand at reporting and writing or just looking for extra credit in your reporting class, the Alligator can help.
The Alligator has three kinds of writers. Most people start as a freelance writer, also called a stringer. They contribute stories from their own ideas or from assignments from the freelance editor. These writers are unpaid and have the smallest responsibility and time commitment. Once on staff, you might start as a general assignment writer, who works sort of like a paid freelance writer on assignments from a news editor. These writers receive a stipend every two weeks and are expected to write two to five stories each week. Last, beat writers are the Alligator's best writers and are responsible for covering some aspect of the news, such as cops, Greek life, Student Government or city politics. These writers are expected to write three to five stories each week and keep up with the goings on of their beat. They get paid every two weeks.
If you're interested in writing, fill out an application and stop by the Alligator office with some writing samples, a resume and possibly a cover letter to talk to an editor. A good place to start is the freelance editor. Check the Contact Us page for contact information.
Submitting A Story
- To find stories the Alligator would be interested in, you'll need to get a sense of what's newsworthy for the Alligator's audience (UF students). Remember the factors of newsworthiness: timeliness, proximity, weirdness/rarity, future impact, prominence, conflict, scope, consequence and human interest.
- First, set yourself a deadline that will work within the Alligator's deadlines. If you want to write a story about an event that's happening at 7 p.m., you must contact the freelance editor or another editor by 5 p.m. to ask him or her if the Alligator is interested in the story. Late story deadline is at 9 p.m., so you need to be able to write quickly if you are covering late events. For all other stories, you must send an electronic copy to the Alligator by 5 p.m. to give the editors time to look it over.
- We write and edit with Google Docs, so any file type compatible with that will work fine, but we strongly recommend .doc or .docx.
- For your byline, put your name in all caps. On a line underneath that, type "Alligator Contributing Writer." Then type your phone number, so editors can call you with questions. If you don't include your phone number either on your story or in the email you send with your story attached, your story will not go in the paper. We need your contact info.
- Email your story to email@example.com. Include your name, what class you're in (Multimedia Writing or Reporting, or nothing if you're not in either), a little bit about the story, any time constraints it has and, of course, your phone number. Attach your story as a Word document or paste it into the body of the email.
- At 5 p.m., the editors of the Alligator convene to discuss the day's stories and photos and decide which stories are going on which pages and at what length. If your story is running in the next day's paper, you'll get a call about 6 p.m. asking you to come in and read the story over with the editor. After a section editor reads the story, it goes to copy desk. The copy editor assigned to your story will read through it and check all the facts he or she can, including name spelling, titles and names of places. You may get a call from a copy editor even after you've finished editing it with your section editor.