Calvert: Honor Journalist James Foley: Don’t Watch the Video

Published: August 20th, 2014

HuffPost: Media on August 20, 2014 published “Honor Journalist James Foley: Don’t Watch the Video” a column by Brechner Eminent Scholar in Mass Communication Clay Calvert.

Category: Faculty Bylines

Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project files friend-of-the-court brief

Published: August 19th, 2014

The Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project on Monday filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the true threats case of Elonis v. United States.

“In Elonis, the court will better define what it means by ‘true threats,’ which constitute one of the very few categories of speech not protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” said Clay Calvert, the Project’s director and the Brechner Eminent Scholar in Mass Communication at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications.

“The key question for the court in Elonis is whether a defendant-speaker’s actual intent behind a message should matter in sorting out whether that message amounts to a true threat of violence,” Calvert explained.

The Elonis case centers on Facebook postings in the form of violent-themed rap lyrics.  The postings’s creator, Anthony Elonis, claims the messages were artistic, therapeutic and not meant to be taken as literal threats of violence.  Elonis was convicted, however, with the trial court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit refusing to consider Elonis’s intent and, instead, focusing only on how a mythical reasonable person would interpret his speech.

“Our goals with the brief are twofold.  First, we want to help the justices understand the interpretative problems of meaning and understanding of rap lyrics and, second, we strive to highlight the artistic and political aspects of rap music that often are lost amidst the negative stereotypes that surround it,” Calvert said.

For instance, the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project brief states that “Rap music resides squarely within a long tradition of African American storytelling and verbal competition, one that privileges exaggeration, metaphor, and, above all, wordplay. Underlying this tradition is the practice of signifying, or the obscuring of apparent meaning; in the process of signifying, ambiguity is prized, meaning is destabilized, and gaps between the literal and the figurative are intentionally exploited. This practice, along with rap’s dense slang and penchant for imbuing words with new meaning(s), makes it especially susceptible to misreading and misinterpretation.”

Working on the brief with Calvert were two professors who specialize in rap music – Erik Nielson of the University of Richmond and Charis E. Kubrin of the University of California, Irvine.

“Nielson and Kubrin are academic stars in the scholarly study of rap music, and their efforts here in contributing to the brief were excellent,” Calvert said. “The brief really is a prime example of applied research – we’re taking scholarship about rap music and applying it to a real-world legal problem in an attempt to help the U.S. Supreme Court reach a better understanding of both rap music and the true threats doctrine.”

The Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to current and contemporary issues affecting the First Amendment freedoms of speech, press, thought, assembly and petition. It is housed at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. Clay Calvert can be reached at or via telephone at 352-273-1096.

Category: College News

Patterson is featured in article

Published: August 13th, 2014

Rebecca Patterson, JM 1990 and chief investment officer of Bessemer Trust Co., is featured in the August 13, 2014 article on, “Bessemer Investment Chief Braces Rich Families for Tumult.”

Category: Alumni News

Calvert: Rap Music Scores Big Legal Win in New Jersey: Now on to the Supreme Court

Published: August 12th, 2014

HuffPost: Politics on August 7, 2014 published “Rap Music Scores Big Legal Win in New Jersey: Now on to the Supreme Court” a column by Brechner Eminent Scholar in Mass Communication Clay Calvert.

Category: Faculty Bylines

Calvert: Florida Court Tells Doctors to Shut Up About Guns

Published: August 12th, 2014

HuffPost: Politics on July 29, 2014 published “Florida Court Tells Doctors to Shut Up About Guns” a column by Brechner Eminent Scholar in Mass Communication Clay Calvert.

Category: Faculty Bylines

Johnson: Up In The Air: 20 Pieces Of Advice For The Class Of 2020

Published: July 28th, 2014

Elite Daily on July 28, 2014 published “Up In The Air: 20 Pieces Of Advice For The Class Of 2020,” by coordinator of visual production Steve Johnson.

Category: Faculty Bylines

Spiker is named Journalism interim chair

Published: July 21st, 2014

Ted-Spiker-200x300Journalism Associate Professor Ted Spiker has accepted the position of interim chair of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications’ Department of Journalism, Dean Diane McFarlin announced today. He replaces Wayne Wanta who has stepped down.

Spiker joined the faculty in 2001 after working at several magazines, including Men’s Health. He earned his master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware. Before he came to UF, he was also an adjunct at the University of Delaware and Lehigh University.

He is the co-author of about a dozen books, including the “YOU: The Owner’s Manual” series, and his work has been published in such places as Outside, O The Oprah Magazine, Fortune, Reader’s Digest, Runner’s World,, and many others.

His first sole-authored book about the psychology and biology of weight loss will be published in October. In addition, he has done scholarly research on magazine covers and has served as head of the Magazine Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Category: College News

Calvert: False Accusations of Homophobia and Racism: Are They Libelous?

Published: July 18th, 2014

HuffPost: Politics on July 17, 2014 published “False Accusations of Homophobia and Racism: Are They Libelous?” a column by Brechner Eminent Scholar in Mass Communication Clay Calvert.

Category: Faculty Bylines

Summer Journalism Institute in the UF spotlight

Published: July 16th, 2014

The College’s Summer Journalism Institute for high school students is featured in the July 15, 2014 story, “Aspiring journalists learn newest skills for media jobs,”  in the University of Florida Spotlight series on the UF Web site.

Green joins INC as Deputy News Editor and Digital Director

Published: July 10th, 2014

Gary W. Green


A senior photographer and videographer who helped develop mobile reporting workflows for Tribune Co. newspapers, will join the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Division of Media Properties as the new deputy news editor and digital director, Matt Sheehan, the director of the Innovation News Center, announced today.

Gary Green joins a newsroom that provides local news, weather and sports content to seven terrestrial and affiliated digital media outlets managed by professionals and staffed with students enrolled in the College. He starts July 28.

“We’re so delighted to bring a gifted storyteller and visual thinker into the INC to help us shape the future of digital communication and news,” Sheehan said. “Not only does Gary have 20 years of experience, but as we look toward the future, we recognize that Gary’s ability as a visual storyteller will bring critical strengths into our newsroom and help shape evolutions in how we create and consume news on mobile platforms.”

Green comes to the College from the Orlando Sentinel, where he has served the past 12 years as a photo/video editor, multimedia producer and senior photojournalist.  His portfolio includes coverage of some of the biggest stories of the last two decades, including Sept. 11, deadly hurricanes, presidential campaigns, space shuttle launches, controversial court trials and sporting events, including seven Super Bowls, NCAA Final Four championships, NBA playoffs and the NBA Finals.

Most recently, Green led a team, and helped develop best practices, for utilizing mobile devices in the collection and dissemination of news by Sentinel journalists. Other Tribune papers are using those lessons in their operations.

Gary is also behind the video components of the Sentinel’s “In the Shadow of Race” series, which chronicled race relations in Central Florida following the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.  Todd Stewart, the interactive and visuals manager at the paper, called Green’s contributions to the award-winning series “some of the highest-level video storytelling the Sentinel [has] ever produced.”

Before joining the Sentinel, he worked for several newspapers, magazines and wire services in Florida, Ohio and Kentucky. He is a graduate of Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication. He is currently completing his thesis as a master’s degree candidate in mass communication at UF. Green’s thesis explores the opportunities and challenges posed by the digital disruption of a newsroom..

Green has served as a speaker at the ACP/CMA National Media Convention, as a coach for University of North Carolina Photojournalism Sports Workshop and mentored dozens of student interns and emerging journalists.

His work has been published by numerous national newspapers, magazines and websites including: Time, Sports Illustrated, New York Times, The Washington Post, Sporting News, USA Today and Huffington Post as well as several international publications. His journalism has been honored by the Associated Press, National Press Photographers Association, Ohio News Photographer Association, Florida Society of News Editors, Ohio Prep Sports Writer’s Association and the Associated Press Sports Editors.

About the Innovation News Center
The Innovation News Center, the home of the College’s news, weather and sports operations, opened in August 2012.  The two-story, 14,000-square-foot space provides nearly 100 seats for reporters, producers and editors working together to report the news for the College’s many distribution channels, including WUFT-FM (NPR), WUFT-TV (PBS), ESPN 850 WRUF, WRUF-FM, WRUF-TV6 and The College’s students work with professional news directors and College faculty to report for multiple platforms.

About the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications
The University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications is driving innovation and engagement across the disciplines of advertising, journalism, public relations and telecommunication. The strength of its programs, faculty, students and alumni  — in research and in practice — has earned the college ongoing recognition as one of the best in the nation among its peers. The college offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and certificates, both online and on campus. The college’s strength is drawn from both academic rigor and experiential learning. CJC students have the opportunity to gain practical experience in the Innovation News Center, which generates content across multiple platforms, and a strategic communication agency that will begin operation in Fall 2014. The college includes seven broadcast and digital media properties and the nation’s only program in public interest communications.

Category: College News