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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
Interviewer: Alan Fried
Interviewee: Ed Barber
March 14, 1991
F: I am with Ed Barber, at the Florida Independent Alligator, on University Avenue [in
Gainesville, Florida]. We are in the conference room of the Alligator, and today is
March 14, 1991. My name is Alan Fried, and may I ask you, sir, what is your full
B: Charles Edward Barber.
F: And what is your occupation?
B: I am a journalist, and also a newspaper executive. The name of the newspaper, by
the way, for the record, is The Independent Florida Alligator.
F: Sorry about that.
B: That is OK.
F: How long have you been with the Alligator?
B: I started as a student in 1963 [and worked as a student] until 1966. Then I worked
as a career staff member from 1966, until it went independent in 1973. I came back
in 1976, and have been here since. So what does that add up to?
F: Most of your working career.
F: How long have you held the position that you currently hold, and what is your exact
B: I am the president of Campus Communications, Inc., which is a 501-(C)(3)
educational organization designated by the federal government and a not-for-profit
and nonprofit corporation. For sales tax purposes, it is an educational institution in
the state of Florida. I am also the general manager of the corporation and of the
F: How long have you been the president of Campus Communications?
B: Since 1976.
F: Since 1976. Are you the owner of the Alligator?
B: No. The corporation owns the Alligator. Since it is not-for-profit and nonprofit, the
board of directors are volunteers, and they are the sole members of the corporation.
So, as a group--if one can define ownership, or wishes to define it--they as a group
own the corporation. The corporation, in turn, does business as The Independent
Florida Alligator. We also have a subsidiary, which is the Herald Publishing
Company, Inc., of which I am the president. As a matter of fact, I am the only
member of the corporation at this point. The Herald Publishing Company publishes
The High Springs Herald in High Springs, Florida, which is a weekly, for-profit
F: You mentioned something about a 501 -(C)(3). What is that?
B: 501-(C)(3) is a designation determined by the IRS after they audit a company when
it applies for such designation. As such, the corporation has to prove to the IRS that
there is a legitimate educational function that occurs. And then, of course, there are
many regulations and rules that a corporation has to follow to continue within that
designation. That designation then allows us two primary things. That is, to be
exempt from generating profit and therefore not having to pay a corporate profit tax,
both to the federal government or the state. Secondly, since we are not only not-for-
profit, we are also nonprofit, we are designated to be able to receive donations from
individuals or others. And their donations would then be tax-deductible in their
particular tax situation.
F: I see. Can the corporation receive donations from the University?
B: It could, but we would not accept them.
F: You would not accept them.
B: Right. We have a corporate philosophy not to accept any gifts or grants from any
F: I am going to kind of turn the conversation a little bit [and] ask you some questions
about yourself. Are you a Florida native?
B: Yes, I am. I was born in 1939, in Miami.
F: And when did you move to Alachua County?
B: We moved in 1962.
F: You said you went to school here in 1963?
B: I started in 1962. I did not come to the Alligator until 1963.
F: I see. Resident of Gainesville all that time?
F: Where are your parents from?
B: They are from south Georgia. My father was from a small town near Nashville in
Berrian County, east of Adel. My mother was born in a smaller town, which is .. I
could not even tell you the location except it is about the same longitude as Cordele,
Georgia. The name of it is Pitts.
F: Just again for the record, can I get their names?
B: Certainly. His name was James Plemon, and her name was Margaret Katherine.
Her maiden name was Grimes.
F: Were either of them in the newspaper business?
F: What did they do?
B: They farmed before they went to Miami. My father worked for a transportation
company, local hauling, for a bread company, and then finally went to work for the
Miami bus system until he was disabled. My mother--until he became disabled--
worked at home as a housewife, and then went to work as a cafeteria worker in the
F: Did they move to Alachua County with you, or did you come up here as a student?
B: No. I was married at the time, and my wife, and our first child, and I came to
Gainesville for me to go to school.
F: I am going to jump a little bit ahead of some of the questions. When did you get
B: May 28, 1960, to my high school sweetheart.
F: And your wife's name is?
B: Judith Margaret. Her maiden name [is] Tuck.
F: And you met in high school?
F: Where did you go to high school?
B: In Dade County. We first lived--until I was about ten years old--in a section of Miami
called Allapattah. My folks rented space there. Then they were able to pull together
enough money to purchase some land in the far west Hialeah area, near the edge of
the Everglades. Not having much money, we spent our weekends clearing the land
by hand, and then building the house by hand. So, since I was about ten until I was
married, we lived in west Hialeah, just a stone's throw from the Graham dairy, which
is Bob Graham's [Florida governor, 1979-1987] place. We were not pals, but we
knew each other. We saw each other and that sort of thing. We rode the same
school bus once in a while.
F: Were you involved in the high school newspaper?
B: Yes, I was. I got involved in my junior year. I was the editor in my senior year.
F: What was the name of the paper?
B: The Record.
F: Was that when you first decided you wanted a career in journalism?
B: Well, I thought I wanted a career in journalism at the time, but I was also smitten by
love, and knew the kinds of hours and demands that were made upon newspaper
people. So I decided to look for something else. In the meantime, I joined the
Coast Guard reserves and went on active duty for six months. Then I came back
and was in the active reserves for an additional seven and a half years. Also, when
I came back from active duty, I went to work in a local bank. [I] worked my way up
from filing cancelled checks and so forth to being a teller.
Then I decided--in looking around at the bank officers who dressed very nicely--but
did not make a whole lot of money--that I really needed an education. My wife
agreed, so we came here for me to get a degree. [I was] without a lot of purpose
except to get an education and a degree, and then to try to find work that would be
better. I originally majored in English and went through University College. While I
was in the University College, I joined the staff of the Alligator as a student. That
changed my mind about a lot of things.
F: Did you enjoy it from the start?
B: Oh, yes. Absolutely. [I found it to be] consuming in a lot of ways.
F: Now, if I am not mistaken--I have read just a little bit of clips about you .
B: Clips about me?
F: A little bit in the Gainesville Sun. You were mostly on the production side, if I am not
mistaken. Did you start out that way, or did you start out as a reporter?
B: I started as a reporter.
F: I should have said the business side, rather than the journalism.
B: Yes. Right. I started out as a reporter, and was fortunate enough to work up to the
executive editor position. But the Alligator did not pay a whole lot, and I was trying
to work outside the Alligator, and my wife was working. We were living on campus
in Flavet II. And my little girl seemed to be sick all the time. We were eating a lot
of rice and Campbell's soup casseroles and so forth. I just finally got fed up. An
opening occurred on the production staff, and I worked on that side as a student and
assistant production manager, and then a full-time opening occurred in 1966. I took
that. In the meantime, I had also worked somewhat on the business side outside of
production. I had sold some advertising and designed advertising, and worked in
circulation also. So I had worked in various areas--anywhere I could make another
F: Of all of them, which did you enjoy the most?
B: I guess my first and lasting love has to be the editorial side. Even though I have not
worked on the editorial side of the Alligator since 1966, it is still my first love. I gave
an answer in the front of the tape: I still consider myself a journalist. I am not a
working journalist, but I am still a journalist, and I am still constrained by those same
F: You say a journalist as opposed to what?
B: A business person, or let us say an advertising person, or whatever. Those people
and myself are also newspaper people, but not necessarily journalists.
F: I see. Tell me, from your perspective, how and why did the Alligator move off
B: You are going to need a couple of hours for me to talk about that. [Among] the
various university administrations, various professors and deans in the College of
Journalism, and with various student government members, Blue Key members and
so forth, there have been many and varied (I am using that word various a lot)
opinions about the Alligator, and how well it does, and whether or not it is fulfilling its
role. Without fail, every two years, there would be some study group that would
investigate the Alligator, and we would have to .
F: You are talking about while it was on campus?
B: Right. And the studies would always amount to disagreement with perhaps the way
things were covered, or an editorial stance, or what some people perceived as a
lack of professionalism with the editorial side. [There was] never anything wrong--
never any problems--with the business side, but the editorial side was always on the
The College of Journalism, rightly so, teaches freedom of the press. The press
should be unrestrained except by laws that of course, control the press, libel and
invasion of privacy, and those sorts of things--those kinds of torts. Although for the
most part the Alligator was left alone by the governing body for student publications,
nevertheless there were times when the University administration, or student
government administration, or someone would attempt to control the editorial side of
the newspaper. So there was kind of a dichotomy there, if that is the correct word,
between what the College of Journalism taught and what was actually practiced
throughout the rest of the campus. Some of that is to be expected, naturally,
because nobody likes to have their dirty linen aired in public. And many people tend
to attack the messenger, and so forth. All of those things come into play with every
type of movement. Some of it deserving. And sometimes, in our case, deserving--
in my opinion. When the administration was struggling with this diametrically
opposed philosophy, you might say, that resulted in a daily product.
Professor Hugh W. Cunningham [professor of journalism, 1955 present] wrote a
letter to the then University president, Stephen O'Connell [1968-1974], and said that
the newspaper would always be in this situation as long as it was part of the
University. [He said] that there would never be any change in that reality, and I
agreed with that. The disagreement was not necessarily to the point that it needed
to be severed, in my opinion. Perhaps this is one of the things that the
administration in the educational setting has to put up with. Just like they may not
like it, but they have to put up with tenure, or other types of things that they wish
they did not have to contend with. But nevertheless, his letter was submitted to
President O'Connell, and I think it was as a result of one of these study groups
Probably within a year after that, the student editor at that time, Ron Sachs, was
running a series of articles on women, and the particular problems that women
faced in society at that time. Part of that series had to do with particular problems
women face in regard to health issues. As a part of that was the situation of
abortion. At that time, if I recall, abortions were legal in some states, certainly in
New York City, but not in the state of Florida. In fact, there was an old statute on the
books that prohibited even the dissemination of information that told a woman, or
anyone, how to procure an abortion, undoubtedly in the past when abortion was
completely back alley, of course; the law was created to prevent that written
dissemination of information. But it was still on the books.
Well, the editor, Ron, knew about this law. Some people say that since there was
already a case in the Florida courts concerning the same law that he should have
waited, or could have waited, or whatever. Some people say that he was
grandstanding; some people say he was legitimately concerned, and so forth. I
cannot assign those kinds of opinions. But for whatever the reason, he did wish to
run a list of legal abortion clinics that were available outside the state of Florida. It
might be noted that at the same time, national publications came into the state with
that information printed in them.
F: What national publications?
B: Well, like national magazines, national newspapers--those kinds of things. I cannot
recall them offhand by name. Instead of just running it, and letting everything fall out
from that, he took it to the Board of Student Publications.
F: What is the Board of Student Publications?
B: The Board of Student Publications at that time was a presidential committee of the
University reporting to the president through the vice president of student affairs.
F: His name was?
B: His name was Lester [Leonard] Hale [professor of speech, 1935-1973, vice
president of student affairs, 1967-1973;. The membership, if I recall, was something
like seven members, with a faculty/student split, with there being one more faculty
member--as chairperson--than students, so it was a four-three split. The faculty
members were out of the College of Business, the College of Law, the College of
Journalism, and there must have been one at-large, or something. I do not
remember the other one.
F: Could there have been one from the administration?
B: No. They were all faculty members. I may have the split wrong. It may have been
[a] five-member [committee, with a] three-two [split]. As a matter of fact, it was. I
recall now. The reason I recall is, I remember that there were two students, and the
president of the student body would forward at least four names to the president,
from which the president would choose two names. I do not know how the faculty
members were chosen. [It was] something internal to the faculty and the dean, and
volunteering and so forth, I suppose, or [they were] pressed into service, or
something. Then the president would appoint them. The president had to appoint
everyone officially to the committee.
At that time, for some reason, there were not any student members on the board.
He [Ron Sachs, editor of the Alligator] wanted to take it to the board, but he did not
want to [take it there] without student members on the board. So the student body
president forwarded this list, the president appointed the members, and then they
met. It was very calculated. I am not saying it was wrong. I am just saying it was
calculated. So the full board met.
In the dozens and dozens of meetings that I have witnessed of that board, it was the
first time I had ever seen a strict faculty-student split, where the faculty members all
voted that he should not run the information, and the students voted that he should
run the information. The chairperson only voted in case of a tie. I am really getting
confused now. At any rate, what happened was that there was a split, and the vote
could not be sustained to override his intention. It was not that they voted to run it.
They could not vote to prevent him from running it. So I apologize for all that, the
number splits and everything. I just cannot remember how it shook out. At any rate,
they then forwarded that decision--again through the vice president--to the
president. The president was out of town, but from what I hear, conferred with the
vice president. The vice president rejected their decision, so that the information
was to be withheld.
F: Now I am a little confused. Had it been published yet?
B: No. It had not been published. It went to the board.
F: So Sachs checked with the board before publication?
F: Knowing that there was some controversy about it.
B: Right. There was a general reaction by lots of different people from various places
on campus. Students in general, student groups, faculty members, and so forth.
Some of them [were] taking the position of freedom of the press as opposed to the
nature of the material. I am getting a little foggy here. The other situation was he
was able to run it because it had not been overruled by the administration. But our
printer is located in another county, and he would have been jointly liable. So he
refused to print it.
F: The printer was on a contract situation with the University?
B: Yes, [through a] bid process. So, he [Sachs] still was not able to run it. Then, at
that time, I said to him, "Well, if the printer cannot run it, we can print your
information on a flier, and when the paper comes back, we can insert it in the
F: At this time, your position with the paper was?
B: I was the assistant general manager. Then the administration ruled that it could not
run it in any manner. At that time, I backed off, and said: "OK. I am not going to
have anything to do with a flier or anything else because the University is my boss."
F: Who was the general manager at the time?
B: His name was Brent Myking. [He was] a retired Marine colonel, but one who was
extremely sympathetic and empathetic with students. He was not like a drill master
or anything like that. Of course, he spent his whole career working with young
F: It occurs to me, for the record, that we have not pinpointed the time period that this
all was occurring. I think it was late 1971?
B: I believe so. This was October 1971. On October 6, the Alligator came back to
campus without the information printed in the Alligator because in the meantime, the
editor and some of the sub-editors had printed an insert and inserted it in the
Alligator. The editor, Sachs, had called President O'Connell very early in the
morning at his home, and told him what was occurring. Sachs turned himself in; he
was arrested for violating the law, but [he] was immediately released. His pro bono
attorney at the time was Chester Chance, who is now a circuit judge in the county.
F: And his wife ..
B: Jean [C.] Chance [Associate Professor of Journalism & Communication] was an
advisor, who was at that time--and is still--a member of the faculty of the College of
Communications. The president held a press conference with Ron present, and
said that there were three ways that he could go, basically: that he could do
something to Ron academically because he violated the student code by refusing to
follow a direct instruction of the president of the institution. Another way they might
go was to have the courts determine what the situation was in regard to the
president and his authority in the case. He had been told that he was publisher.
F: The president was publisher.
B: Yes. Or he could take it to the attorney general, and he was choosing the latter
course. He was not going to hold Ron academically responsible in any manner. I
cannot tell you the time period of that. Subsequently, a local judge took the case
[and] threw out the case. He said that the law was unconstitutional. [In the]
following legislative session, the law was repealed.
In the meantime, the question became much broader in scope. That was the
question of whether or not the university president was indeed publisher because he
was responsible for every action on campus. Since he was also a public official, [the
question was] could he exercise the same restraint that a publisher could in the
private sector? The opinion took a long time coming down from the attorney
general's office. Finally, the attorney general said: "Yes. You are the publisher,
and you are responsible for anything that is published."
F: Attorney general at that time was?
B: Robert [Lewis] Shevin [Florida Attorney General, 1971-1979]. He said, "Conversely,
since you are a public official, you have no pre-press authority." The president took
the position that that was an untenable condition to put him in; he was responsible,
but had no authority.
The president referred this to the Board of Student Publications. The chairman [of
the Board of Student Publications at the time], by the way, is still on campus--Dr.
[John S.] Jack Detweiler [Professor of Journalism & Communication & Chair,
Department of Public Relations]. [He is] a member of the College of Journalism. As
a matter of fact, [he] is head of the public relations department, and had been a
student member of the Alligator staff, and later had been an interim general
manager of the Alligator before he got his terminal degree and went back to
F: Was this at any time while you were employed with the Alligator?
B: Yes. Well, not while he was a student, but .
F: While he was general manager.
B: Yes, while he was general manager. He was the general manager preceding Brent
B: So, let us see. The president asked the Board of Student Publications, while
Detweiler was the chairman, to come up with a plan that would get him out of this
situation. After seriously considering it, and discussing it, the board reported back to
the president, "We prefer the status quo." The president told the board, then:
"Maybe you did not understand. The status quo is no longer acceptable. I am
looking to you people to come up with a plan to get me out of this situation."
F: O'Connell felt that the status quo was not acceptable by his own standards, or was
he getting that information from someplace else? Was that internally driven or
B: I cannot speak to that.
B: But, at the very least, it was his own situation. For example, I would never be
publisher. I have to have some empathy. I would never be a publisher of a
newspaper and not have authority over it. There is no way I would do that. So I can
empathize somewhat. There are things to be said on the other side, however. But
nevertheless, the point was that he said, "The status quo is not acceptable." The
board met again, and again reported. You know, none of this was as cut and dried
as I am making it. There was a lot of discussion both in person between the
chairman of the board and the president and so forth in an attempt to reconcile the
F: And the differences were widely split?
B: Yes, the way I remember it. And the board came back with the same answer. They
could not support anything other than the status quo. The president then more or
less dissolved that board, and said, "I need to get some people who are responsible
for the newspaper and responsive to my direction in this matter." He appointed a
thirteen-member commission. It represented people from the faculty, again, some
of the same disciplines, and people from students, and from the administration. He
also asked me to check on libel protection insurance for this commission, so that
they would not risk their personal wealth. I did so, and found that it was unavailable.
The commission met in the Reitz Union, and the president charged the commission
with two things. First of all, they were now in charge of the student publications--
which everyone, of course, looked at as just being the Alligator, although we also
had a yearbook and a literary magazine at the time. But the problem, of course, all
centered [around] and concentrated on the newspaper. The committee heard [and]
was shocked [by] my report, about not being able to secure [the liability insurance.]
By the way, by this time, I was the general manager.
F: What had happened with Myking?
B: He had retired. One of the committee members said, "You mean, beginning
tomorrow morning, as a member of this group, I am personally liable for everything
that is printed in the Alligator?" And the answer was, "Yes." The faculty member
said, "In that case, I respectfully decline to be seated on this commission." And
there was a lot of nodding in agreement. So I guess he was the interim or the ad
hoc chairman; I do not know what his official title was, but the one running the
meeting asked [for] a show of hands: "Who would be willing to serve on such a
commission?" Well, some people were, and some people were not. So they went
home. Now there was no governing body.
F: This must have put you in a really unusual situation. O'Connell had asked you to
find out about legal liability and now the committee was, upon the information you
had given them, accepting that as responsibility [and] they would then resign. What
happened between you and O'Connell, and what happened between you and the
B: Well, nothing much either way. O'Connell was not pleased with my answer, but I
could not deny the facts.
F: Did he have any forewarning? Did you advise him in advance of your report, or was
this the first time he learned of it?
B: This was the first time he learned of it. That was not because of my withholding the
information or anything. It was just that I got the final word late that afternoon the
evening we were meeting. As far as relationship with the committee, they just all
scattered. There was no committee. Well, the president decided he might do
something on his own, and part of this may have been my fault because I had no
direction. There was no one to tell me what I could do. I had only a certain level of
authority. There were things that I had to get done for the fall season, such as
letting bids for printing and getting the results approved and so forth, so we could
have a printer and print the paper. I had no authority to do that on my own. I could
do all the legwork, but someone else had to approve it. I went to the president.
F: Did you have trouble getting bids?
B: Well, we had to let them. I was just looking down the road thinking someone had to
either give me authority or create some authority to approve what I was doing or
planning to do. I had to have some kind of direction. Well, somehow, it came out
that the president was considering the possibility of turning the student newspaper
into a college newspaper. [This was] not just a distinction in terms. A college
newspaper would definitely be published by the university. Students would be
allowed to work for it, but the final word would be by some employee of the
university, not an unusual situation on campuses across the nation. [It was a] very
unusual situation given the tradition of the Florida Alligator, however. [It was]
F: Could we take just a moment to set the scene? This was during the war in Vietnam
years, and student opinion was fairly strong. Can you tell a little bit about the times
and tenor of the newspaper itself with regard to why students might react negatively
to the idea of becoming a college newspaper?
B: Well, for one thing, whether rightly or wrongly, students regarded the Alligator has
their newspaper, their voice. Traditionally they depended upon the Alligator as a
vehicle for views and opinions, particularly opinion because there is always
something that is just a matter of opinion, even if it is just student politics, the
student government elections and that sort of thing, but particularly since the
beginning of the civil rights era, and then spilling into the activism surrounding the
war in Vietnam. So I think they were very concerned, and rightly so, that they still
would have a student newspaper to be able to be that outlet.
Faculty members and students were concerned about the basic tenets of free
speech and free press on a university campus, [and] the opportunity and freedom to
express oneself. Of course, earlier on, we had had the Berkeley movement about
free speech, and that changed a lot of things, including a liberated press. So in this
atmosphere, I think it was even much more guardedly viewed than it might have
been in the 1950s. And then of course, there were faculty members, particularly in
the College of Journalism and Communications, who were very concerned about
this. Any time a publication appears to be in danger, people in the journalism
profession rally around it. I am going through all the reasons, [but] you know the
reasons. At any rate, not 100 percent of the faculty, but many of the faculty
members in the college, felt that this was a real dangerous situation for the
newspaper and for the university.
In the meantime, I did not know his [President O'Connell] thinking was going in this
direction, I was pressing for some sort of authority. Well, if I had known then what I
learned very soon after, I would not have pressed so hard. He had determined this.
He would still need the approval of the Board of Regents, and he had not even
announced it publicly. But he decided that he would need someone to head this
newspaper, who would represent the administration. Well, I think they asked some
different people. I have no idea because I was never told. I think all those people
rejected the administration. Then I think they finally came down to the bottom of the
barrel, and probably said: "You know, Ed Barber is already over there. Ask him.
Ed will do it. He will do anything." They asked me to become the interim acting
editor/publisher of the Florida Alligator.
F: And the person who asked you was not O'Connell, though, was it?
B: No. It was his special assistant, Dean Rae O. Weimer, who had been the
immediate past dean of the College of Journalism and Communications. [He was a]
highly respected journalist. It made a great case with me why this was necessary.
He also made the point that this was only acting [editor/publisher] because it might
not be a permanent situation, both for me or for the administration. It was also
interim because the Board of Regents would have to approve the change in this
relationship between the newspaper and the university. Given some of the
arguments that they gave, including some now that I am wondering, frankly, how my
own ego may have entered into it instead of good common sense, but given their
arguments, I felt it was better that I accept the position. I knew, somewhat, some of
the storm that would follow. I had no idea the full extent of it. But I did accept.
It hit the press. There was a great outcry: Here was this business person at the
Alligator who was seizing control for the president, and so forth and so on. And this
was not a plan that was approved by the university senate; it was not approved by
the regents. [People thought] it was just something that O'Connell was doing to
control the press. In the meantime, I had my authority, however, to get the things
done I wanted to do to get the paper published, the pragmatic [things]. So from that
standpoint, I was happy with the situation.
F: Now, Sachs was no longer the editor at this point?
B: That is correct. Now it was summertime, and Steve Sauls was the editor. Since
that time, he has been involved with the journalism [field] and most lately, Florida
F: How did the staff of the newspaper react internally?
B: I became a leper immediately. I understood that that might happen to some extent.
I did not realize at the time how extensive it would be. I mean, no one let air out of
my tires or anything like that. But they just were not speaking to me. This was now
about 1972, I guess, and this was after [I had spent] about nine years with the
newspaper, which, for a college newspaper, is a long, long time. In all modesty, I
think I had built up a great rapport with all students, editorial and non-editorial. But
in the wink of an eye, that was all gone. One of the reasons that I took it was the
fact that it was going to be just temporary.
I am reluctant to reveal all, but let me just say this: the alternative I was presented
with, about what would probably happen if I did not accept it, I thought was an
alternative that the students would even think less of, much less myself. So that
occurred. By the way, Steve Sauls was the current editor, but before the Board of
Student Publications had been disbanded, they had selected the new editor. So
they had the editor-elect in the wings. His name was Randy Bellows. All these
young people [were] fine, dynamic, intelligent, caring, sensitive students, and great
student journalists. It hurt deeply that I no longer had the relationship [with the
students] that I had. I do not mean they hurt me personally; I just mean the situation
F: Did it make it difficult to do your job, or was it just uncomfortable?
B: Extremely difficult. For example, the first thing I tried to get across to Randy was
that I did not expect to be in the newsroom looking over his shoulder and blue-
penciling his copy or anything like that. For one thing, I did not think it would even
last to the point where we would have a working relationship, but if it did, I wanted
he and I to work out what that relationship would be. But he refused to do that. He
said [that] working out a relationship would be tantamount to accepting the condition.
I understood that, too. I did not agree with it, but I understood it. Well, thank
goodness, in a matter of months, the Board of Regents met. In the meantime, by
the way, the student editors and former student editors went to the press, and the
press had a field day with it, too.
F: Who? The Gainesville Sun, or the Miami Herald?
B: Oh, the Gainesville Sun, the Miami Herald, every state newspaper. As a matter of
fact, I am forever enshrined in the New York Times file because a small article on
about page forty-seven B about three inches long mentions my name about the
situation. But, at any rate, it was all over. The various journalism groups, such as
what was then known as Sigma Delta Chi, now Society of Professional Journalists
(which is another story), took different positions. Well, they did not take different
positions; they all took the same position. But many different groups took the
position that this was just outrageous; this should never be. Fortunately, the Board
of Regents did meet. I think during the month of August they did not meet at all, so
it was not until September that they met and took up with the situation. I was
purposely absent from the meeting. I think it took place in Orlando.
F: The head of the board was Marshall Criser at that [point]?
B: I think he was the chairman at that time. J. J. Daniel was on the board at that time,
and who was that attorney?
F: I know from the clips that they are the most quoted.
B: Right. So they met, and I take it that they did not defeat the measure; they just told
the president, "We want you to reconsider." Being the intelligent person that he
was, President O'Connell knew what that meant, and he knew that was a no-go.
They did not approve it. I immediately had a sign made for my door that said,
"Former Acting/Interim Editor/Publisher." [laughter] I continued on as general
manager. President O'Connell appointed a new study group that included Professor
Cunningham [and] Tim Coudon, who subsequently became an attorney.
F: And he was on the Alligator staff for a while?
B: Yes, he was. And later he became editor of the Alligator, after that he became an
attorney. Bob Sharkey, who was selected by the local chapter of Sigma Delta Chi,
[was on the committee]. At the time he was, coincidentally, the owner and publisher
of the High Springs Herald, which we recently purchased. Jerry [Gerald] Schaffer,
who at that time was assistant to the vice president for Administrative Affairs, [was
also on the committee]. There may have been another, but I cannot recall who it
was. At any rate, they met several times.
They finally had a press conference. At the press conference, they said: "We have
batted this around, and we have listened to testimony, and we have heard all sides.
We have investigated other campuses that have different kinds of programs, and
we have come to the conclusion that this committee should not come up with a plan.
Instead, we should ask the community to come up with a plan and submit it to the
committee, and then we will pass on that plan, and if we approve that"--of course, I
am paraphrasing--"based upon that plan, we will submit this, we may jockey with it a
little bit or something, but anyway, we will submit some plan to the president." They
had some kind of time frame. I cannot remember what it was.
Naturally, being very interested in the future of the Alligator, I started working on a
plan. I would say I spent a good half of my time working on this and a good deal of
time of the other state employees in the office. This will become pertinent later. I
used their time to help me to research, to run figures, to do marketing studies, to
type it, to Xerox it, all of that. The deadline came for the submissions, and there
were three submissions.
One was from a local person who had been involved with publications and
journalism for a great number of years. His name was K. B. Murloch. He was, in
fact, the first full-time general manager (although it was not called that) of the
Alligator. It was then called executive secretary to the Board of Student
Publications. He had been recruited to that position and hired by the Board of
Student Publications, and, of course, the university, while Hugh Cunningham was
chairman of the Board of Student Publications. So he had a long-term relationship
with them. K. B. was the executive secretary when they changed the Alligator to a
F: It had been weekly?
B: It had been twice weekly. All the production work was done at the Gainesville Sun.
They took the raw copy down, and it was all typeset in hot lead.
F: Roughly, when did it switch over?
B: This was in 1962. At that time, and probably still today, (I have lost touch) there was
a very strong printing industry lobby in the state of Florida. Due to that, state
institutions could not get into the printing business, except for certain small jobs, like
handbills and stationery, and those kinds of things. Everything else had to be bid so
the private industry would have a competitive crack at it. That included pre-press
preparation that the Alligator would need if they switched from the Gainesville Sun,
from what was then called hot type, to what was called cold type, which was offset
[Offset printing is] a process by which, instead of generating type through molten
lead and subsequently pulling what are called stereotype or mats off of that for the
press, the cold type was a strike-on for text copy, and photographic paper for
headlines that was then pasted up. And then that was shot. A page-size negative
was made of that, and then that was burned onto an offset plate, and then [the
newspaper] was printed from that. That pre-press production was much less
expensive than the hot lead. There were a lot of things that could be done in cold
type that you could not do in hot type--a lot of design opportunities, for example. But
they also saw it as an educational opportunity for students to actually have hands-on
experience, including the editorial staff, not just production staff, in knowing how
things could be pulled together. [It would enable them to learn] what things would
work and what things would not work right there.
F: If I am not mistaken, at this time a lot of newspapers, the St. Petersburg Times and
a number of others, were still hot type.
B: Right. As a matter of fact, most of the papers that were cold type were small
newspapers that were members--well, there was a medium-sized paper, the Palm
Beach Post--of the old Perry newspaper chain. He was a great innovator in this
whole process. They owned Leesburg Commercial, and the presswork was still bid.
I forgot to say they created this cold type laboratory. That was what it was called:
the paste-up laboratory. [It was used] for students to produce the newspaper. But
they still had to have it printed, naturally. The Leesbura Commercial won the bid,
but the press had not arrived. It had arrived in time but it was not fully erected when
the conversion was made. So Mr. Perry had our negatives flown from Gainesville to
Palm Beach and printed each night for something like three or four weeks until the
press in Leesburg was up and running.
F: [It was] an expensive process.
B: Yes. Right. Then we had the wonderful opportunity of being able to drive to
Leesburg and back every night. But that is another story, too. K. B. Murloch was
involved in that process, and knew the Alligator very intimately. He left the Alligator
to join the publication and information staff at IFAS [Institute of Food and Agricultural
Sciences] and got his master's degree and was working for the University at the
time. He was one of the submitters of a plan. His plan called for a for-profit
corporation to have the University transfer the newspaper to it. I cannot remember
any of the other details except for that. Oh, I forgot something. One of the
requirements of the plans was that they were to be fully staffed. In other words, if
you submitted a plan, you also had to have the people involved. You had to name
who was going to fill the positions, if you had a board of directors, you had to name
who was going to be on that board. Therefore you had to go out and get their
agreement. Who was going to be the general manager. Who was going to be the
F: [Your proposal had to be] fully operational.
B: Right. I submitted a plan, and I had all the names, with one exception, and that was
the general manager. Randy Bellows and some of his sub-editors submitted the
same plan, except that they changed the structure of the board to add more editorial
votes on it.
My structure of the board was, in retrospect, a horrible mistake. I felt it was the most
logical, the most workable, the most obvious way to structure the board. For years, I
had worked under a Board of Student Publications, who had no connection with the
Alligator. Many times I felt they made decisions not based on the best information,
but [based upon] whoever squeaked the loudest or made the most persuasive
argument. I felt that people who were involved with the newspaper, with outside
influence also on the same board, would do two things: first of all, they would be the
most intimately knowledgeable about what was needed. Secondly, they would be
the most obviously concerned about their actions. They could not walk away from it,
like some previous boards might have. So I had a board. I cannot remember the
numbers, the combinations and so forth, but it was a board that was comprised of a
couple of outsiders, community people at large, and outside journalists (or maybe it
was just one outside journalist), a student editor, a student managing editor, a
student business manager, the ad director (who was a career staff person), [and]
the general manager. It was pretty much an even split between business and
editorial. Like I say, Randy's plan was essentially the same as far as all the
background information and so forth.
F: The same people?
B: Mostly the same people, except he added more editorial people. I subsequently had
a visit from Hugh Cunningham, Bob Sharkey, and Tim Coudon, who at my office,
tried to bring a great deal of pressure on me to name myself to that position. The
reason I did not was that I was a state employee. I had used state money, my time,
state employees, state equipment, all of these things, to essentially create a private
corporation of which I would be the head. I thought that would be highly unethical.
They did not agree because they were working from pragmatics.
As a matter of fact, Professor Cunningham said, "Do you think you would be the
best person in the job?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Then you are willing to sacrifice
what is best for the Alligator for your own position in this situation?" I said: "Well,
[laughter] put that way, I do not know how to answer that. But I cannot do it." They
even gave the opinion that the Alligator might fail because I would no longer be at its
helm. It was great flattery and so forth that I indeed might be dooming it to failure.
F: In looking at the early editions, especially after the change occurred, it seems like
that concern about the possibility of failure was fairly widespread. Among the
students and among the community, there was a lot of feeling that the paper might
B: I knew otherwise. I had been working with the figures for years. I had worked with
the plan. It was my plan. I knew it was not going to fail. I knew it would not fail if
they worked the plan correctly. I suppose that is egotism, but I felt that was the way
it would be. So I was not careful from that standpoint. Nevertheless, they adopted
my plan, and named their own person to fill the slot of general manager.
F: And that person was?
B: His name was Tony Kinzior, and he had been the assistant director of the Campus
Shop and Bookstore. I have no idea how much they looked outside the University
for people experienced in journalism or in [the] newspaper business. I was not privy
to any of that. He was the person they selected. When he was named, they
changed the plan somewhat. But essentially it was the same plan that was
approved by the president, and they put it into effect. They created the new
corporation as of February 1973. I was retained to then represent the University in
the transfer of assets. The way it was set up was that myself, the University auditor,
and the new corporation's business manager would determine what assets the
newspaper wished to retain. That way, they would not be charged with bad debts
that would be payable to the University for something we would never collect. So
we went through every account. It was yes or no, yes or no.
F: At the time, the advertising was very healthy.
B: Extremely healthy.
F: [It] included Maas Brothers and the grocery stores, and numbers of pages in Maas
F: Was that through your efforts to get that advertising?
B: It was through the efforts of many people who worked on the business side. We
took the position early on, before I was general manager, in the late 1960s, that the
best thing we could do for educating the students on both sides, the business side
and the editorial side, and for the good of the paper, was to as much as possible
imitate what the professional press. So, many times we were far ahead in what we
were doing compared to other college newspapers. We kept looking at the
professional or what we called the commercial press because we are not-for-profit.
We kept looking at what they were doing and at what they were projecting. We
were reading those journals and so forth. That, I think, through the years built upon
itself. Also, [we] had great people. So, no, it was not just the results of my work.
F: But as the change occurred, when Kinzior took over, I distracted you from what
happened at that point.
B: I was retained then. I represented the University in this. The same thing with
physical assets. Over the years we had collected state property which was kind of
battered. It was the new corporation's decision whether or not they wanted that or
wanted to go out and purchase their own. I also was to be there to help them [with
the] transition, which [I did]. I was there. I did not do any help in the transition
because I was never asked. That was in February. I think I was involved in that
until about April.
F: It was during the transition period.
B: Right. I had no job. There was never anything promised me or anything else.
There happened to be an opening that occurred as acting director of publications for
the University, which I accepted. It was short-lived, but I accepted it. That is
another whole story.
F: How short-lived?
B: One year. What happened was that Dean Weimer was still the special assistant to
the president, and that fell under his jurisdiction, and so he hired me as the acting
director of publications. At that time, there was also a division of information
services headed by a fellow by the name of Bob [Robert R.] Lynch. Dean Weimer
subsequently was forced into retirement because of the age limitation.
F: This was about 1974?
B: Yes, but maybe late or mid-1973. It was not long after. Well, lo and behold, on that
search committee for his replacement before he stepped down, was Hugh
Cunningham, and that committee searched far and wide for Dean Weimer's
replacement. [The members of the committee] discovered that their best bet was
Hugh Cunningham. So he was hired as the special assistant to the president. He
had different ideas about how publications and information services should work.
During this time, by the way, I had my first heart attack. At any rate, when I came
back from vacation, I was informed that they were combining publications and
information services into one unit. The fellow who they had replaced Bob Lynch
with, K. B. Murloch, was going to be the head of publications and information
K. B. and I, for many years, had not worked well together. I, of course, immediately
saw the handwriting on the wall. There was an opening at the University presses for
production manager. I applied for that position. That is where I went. In the
meantime, the Alligator had moved off campus, behind what is now the Purple
Porpoise. [They] converted the kitchen area of what was formerly the College Inn,
which was the concrete structure which replaced the original College Inn, which had
burned down. They converted these meat lockers and kitchen areas into very small
offices. That is where they resided. I was asked to serve on the board of directors.
I do not know what year it was. I have forgotten.
F: About 1975? 1976?
B: It must have been 1975, maybe very early 1976. No, it was 1975. I agreed to do so
[serve on the board of directors]. Here is where I discovered my huge mistake in the
structure of the board. Rather than being a very workable situation, it was a disaster
for the corporation and for the newspaper. All of the managers, instead of settling
their differences at operational level, brought it all to the board level. Instead of
being a policy board, it was an operational board. They tried to operate it from that
board in a committee situation. There were fights, and I do not mean just yelling; I
mean physical fights. I was not witness to that. That was just before I came on the
board; but I have it on very good authority. All the other board members, as a
matter of fact. There was a lot of things going on like, "Let us try to have a meeting
on such-and-such day so that we can make sure that so-and-so may not be able to
attend the meeting." There was a lot of caucusing outside the board meeting. "Do
you really need to vote this way, because your and my vote, and so-and-so's vote
B: Oh, yes. It was just incredible, and it sickened me. I was on it. Not long after I was
on it. no, I had better not talk about that. Let us just put it this way: later in 1975,
the general manager resigned. This was about December of 1975. The board
asked me to do some consulting for them. They had suddenly appeared to have
some operational and financial problems. I did so, on a part-time basis. How much
of this was my own doing, either without realizing it, or hiding it subconsciously or
whatever, [I do not know]. Later the board asked me to work for them part-time in
an interim position, because they did not think the consulting position had enough
authority for me to do the things they wanted me to do, and to try to change. At any
rate, they asked me to work in an interim position [on a] part-time basis until they
could find a full-time replacement. When they actively started looking, I applied. I
felt that I no longer had any ethical constraints that I had before because someone
else had a shot at it. And I had greatly missed the work.
F: You missed the paper a lot.
B: Oh, yes. Very much so. At any rate, they advertised nationally; they accepted
applications; they had interviews. They had people brought in [for interviews] and
they interviewed [me]. I was fortunate enough to be hired in October of 1976, and I
have been here ever since. But I had some conditions. One of the conditions was
to both weaken and strengthen the general manager's position at the same time. [I
wanted to] weaken it from the standpoint of removing all business people, including
the general manager from the board of directors. [I wanted to] strengthen it by
giving the general manager full authority over the business side. No split authority.
[He] would have nothing to do with editorial. I felt very strongly by this time that with
business people on the board, we would have some influence over editorial, even if
it was only the selection of the editor.
F: So essentially, you were taking it out of the operational phase and putting it back
into the policy-making phase.
B: Right. And that was the second thing, to ask the board to become a policy board. [I
wanted them] to decide how they wanted to hire a general manager, and then,
within general guidelines, allow him or her to operate. [I also wanted them to]
decide how they wanted to hire the editor and managing editor, and within general
guidelines, allow them to operate. But at the same time, I also wanted the editor
and managing editor to remain on the board because I felt it was important that they
be privy to all board action, so that they could always protect their editorial integrity,
at least as much as possible.
I suppose they could even today be outvoted and the board could reverse itself and
say, "We are going to be in the newsroom and patrol everything you do." But [it is]
highly unlikely, given the fact that they (the editors) would be on the board, and they
would, in selection of succeeding board members, select people who understood the
journalistic integrity. It has worked beautifully. I have to admit that I made a horrible
mistake in the beginning, but hopefully I have somewhat rectified it. Unfortunately,
in the meantime, a lot of people were hurt, and the product suffered somewhat. I do
not think it suffered much editorially during those years. It was just that they were
not able to do some of the things they might have been able otherwise from a
F: You have stayed with the Alligator for, from what little I have researched, a lot longer
than most journalists have with a University-related publication.
B: That is true.
F: How do you feel about working with students? What is it that keeps you here, when
you obviously have the abilities to run a larger enterprise or a different kind of
B: You flatter me in the latter. That is very nice of you to say. I do not know that I have
those abilities. But I guess part of it is that I have never grown up to the point where
I can get a real job. Seriously ..
F: Excuse me. I think I am right in that guess that very often a lot of people do leave
B: Yes, if nothing else, for other university newspapers. Probably [there are] only two
in the nation, now that I think about it, that are my senior.