New Digital Exhibition: “Guts & Ambition: 50 Years of The Independent Florida Alligator”

On Feb. 28, in Smathers Room 100, the George A. Smathers Libraries hosted a launch event for its digital exhibit, “Guts & Ambition: 50 years of The Independent Florida Alligator.” Members of the UF community, Alligator staff and alumni joined for a night of Alligator history and to celebrate the launch of the “Guts and Ambition” digital exhibition.

The online exhibit incorporates artifacts from five decades of The Alligator, one of the nation’s largest student-run newspapers. The Alligator has been operating independently from the university since 1973. This exhibit highlights important stories told by student journalists and the publication’s impact on the university and local community over the last 50 years. 

UF librarians April Hines and Melissa Jerome have spent more than 18 months curating printed newspapers, photographs, old UF yearbooks, and oral history transcripts for the digital exhibit. 

“This digital exhibit celebrates 50 years of The Florida Alligator becoming the Independent Florida Alligator and the impactful student journalism that was made possible by that independence,” Hines said. “Noteworthy news clips, photographs, and oral history quotes will show a timeline of Alligator staffers over the decades and the unique stories they were able to tell from 1973 to today.”

The launch event included an overview of The Alligator digital exhibit as well as The Alligator digital collection, an online archive of the newspaper from 1912 to the present. The Alligator digital collection archives boast more than 100 years of news now accessible to the greater community. This digital collection helps to fill the gap in state and national coverage due to what some refer to as the “black hole of newspaper digitization.”

A panel discussion with Alligator alums from each of the past five decades was also held. The panel included alum Rick Hirsch (Alligator ‘78-’80), Reggie Grant (Alligator ’89-’91), Matt Sauer (Alligator ’89-’92), Monique Jones (Alligator ’98-’00) and Colleen Wright (Alligator ’12-’14). Over 70 people appeared in-person for the event along with at least 40 others tuning in virtually, journalism librarian, April Hines said.

Livestream of the Event