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Dean Hub Brown Comments on the Importance of Community-Based Investigative Journalism

Hub Brown, dean of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications (UFCJC) was a guest on Black Star News on WBAI 99.5 FM, community-based Pacifica Radio in New York City. The interview was broadcast on March 26.

Brown spoke about the importance and relevance of grass-roots community-based journalism and referenced a recent $8 million endowment the College received to strengthen support for local and state investigative journalism.

The Collier Prize for State Government Accountability, funded by Nathan S. Collier, awards journalists investigating state-level government and politics. Collier provided the $8 million endowment to fund the prize in perpetuity, hire a full-time director, host a symposium on the importance of local news and teach students about the importance of making government accountable to the people.

“The value of getting into local news is because a lot of the things were are talking about now started as local stories about what states were doing about all kinds of issues,” said Brown. “Many national conversations get their start in local journalism.”

Brown also spoke about the importance of social media and artificial intelligence (AI).

“AI can be helpful in assisting and extending coverage and helping with fact finding. There are opportunities and threats, and we need to find solutions,” he said. “There is the potential for great data driven stories [where AI] can mine public records for facts. These are things we want to embrace. We want to make sure that we are accountable to people and that we have the strongest effort to get as much information as possible to the people.”

Brown adds, “Your core founding principle needs to be accuracy. Every human has a story, and every story has value. It is the practice of reaching out and finding all the voices and making sure there is an opportunity for those voices to be heard. We are going to work toward a community where they feel they can contribute. We model this for our students. You must bring in the conversations of all people.”

Brown said that young journalists need to not be afraid to knock on the door or make the phone call. They have a responsibility to the people to get the story.

“These are interesting times and the level of threat [to journalism] is as high as it’s been in my lifetime, said Brown. “The level of opportunity is among the highest as well. People still want news.  UFCJC is arguably one of the best [journalism and communication programs] and we are doing a lot of interesting things. When it comes to local journalism it takes a lot of imagination because demand will be there. We will be preparing students for a long time to come.”

Posted: April 1, 2024
Category: College News
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