Gator Nation Makes Lasting Impression on this Future Journalists


James Carter on the set of Florida’s 5WUFT-TV on April 18,2018/Photograph taken by a J-school Tour guide.

Denton, Texas-Some people spend their whole career looking for a job or career that they love. It’s a well-known fact if you find something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.

In a search for that dream job or career, as the minutes tick off my life clock in the game of life. I can visualize the educational key that unlocks the door to opportunities. As I stand ready to knock each opportunity out of the park with my God-given talents.

James Carter – Inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium April 19, 2018,/ Photograph taken by a Tour guide.

As an adult learner with an alternative learning style who no longer fits into the standard college age group (18-24), I need to find a school that would be a good fit for my educational goals. It’s a must to find a school that believes in my academic success as much as I do. So a good campus support systems are important to reaching my goal. Since I do not have a large bank account,   finding scholarships or grants  I might qualify for is very important. To help open some opportunities I have never considered before in pursuit of my college degree I might consider a switch in majors, from public relations to journalism. As it is possible to do PR with a journalism degree. And not so easy to go from the field of PR into the field of journalism with a PR  degree.

Hopefully specializing in Sports Media or Sports Journalism would also be beneficial to that all-important degree and get the chance to walk across a stage and receive my long awaited degree.

There is an abundance of opportunities out there now as today’s technology has advanced and the internet has given journalism a growth spurt and increased the number of writing opportunities for up and coming want-to-be journalists.

Now that I’m in my mid-50’s and over time I have grown to be more focused on my career objectives. I also have a firm belief that a good education is necessary to enter the field of journalism or public relations.  So attending the right institution of higher learning that is a good fit for me is just as important as the educational program itself.

All I need is a school that might be willing to give me the opportunity to be part of their program. I simply want to show a strong program in journalism or PR that I belong, thought my skills and ability, not my GPA or SAT score. I’m not the type of student you can look at my transcripts and say he belongs in a certain program.  But I know that action and result speak louder than grades, transcripts or test scores. Hopefully, as I search for a school with a strong Sports journalism program God will lead me to the best program for me.

My desire is to land a job in sports doing journalism or PR that allows me to utilities my writing skills; I would love to attend a school who is a member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). There nothing like being down south in the fall for a Saturday college football game.

One school that is on my radar for sure is the University of Florida in Gainsville, Florida. The Journalism and Communication College has a program that shines brightly in the national sense with a  journalism specialization in sports media which is a fairly new specialization added to the journalism line up in fall of 2016.

A plus to this program for me is the hands-on opportunities that students have

James Carter at Gator Vision Studio. The photograph was taken by a Tour guide

available to them while developing their writing craft. The school’s connection with Gainsville  ESPN radio is another great selling point for this sports fan. But the true selling point for this future returning college student is the students in journalism here are learning current cutting-edge skills, so your journalism skills will not be outdated by the time you receive a journalism degree in Gainsville.  The journalism program even brings in people who currently work in the media to teaches the student the most relevant skills needed in the journalism profession.

Dropped in on Gator Nation (April 18-19 2018) to take a look around the campus and speak with Spiker about the journalism program. What a great campus with fantastic people who really do care about your interests and success if Florida becomes your choice for college.

After you get over the size of this beautiful campus you come to realizes it’s a large university with a small school feel to it, especially if you are a transfer student who applies directly to the college that offers your intended major provided you have enough credits.

One great example of access to professional journalists in Gainsville is adjunct Professor Jason Cole, who writes for, he worked for Yahoo Sports, The Miami Herald, The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

Cole considered one of the top NFL reporters in the country and is a selector for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is the author of three books.  This veteran sports journalist wrote Giant with wide receiver Plaxico Burress, Ocho Cinco with wide receiver Chad Johnson and Heart for the Game with Simon Keith. Keith, a former professional soccer player, is the first man to ever play professional sports after having a heart transplant. Cole also assisted in the writing of books with Art Briles, Rex Ryan, and Tony Siragand

He and Charles Robinson combined for a five-year investigation, exposing former USC running back and Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush’s receipt of approximately $300,000 in cash and other benefits during his final season in college in direct violation of NCAA rules. The investigation eventually led to Bush becoming the first person to relinquish his Heisman and USC was stripped of its 2004 National Championship in football.

Cole, a 1984 graduate of Stanford University, regularly does more than 400 radio and TV appearances a year on stations around the country to talk about the NFL and his other work. He teaches sports writing and investigative reporting at the University of Florida.

The journalism chair is just as impressive as Cole, Ted Spiker. He became part of Gator Nation journalism faculty in 2001, and was given tenure in 2007, then elevated to a full professor and chair in 2015. Spiker then collected the Teacher of the Year honor in the 2016-17 academic year.

“journalism is about non-fiction storytelling in all kinds of lengths and forms. Words, visual, social media, and more. Stories are who we are.”

Ted Spiker, Journalism Department Chair

Professor Spiker’s book and magazine work cover the topic of health and fitness. His work has been published in,, Outside, The Oprah Magazine, Fortune< Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Runner’s World, AARP The Magazine, Readers Digest, Parenting, Prevention, and many others. He also writes The Big Guy Blog for Runner’s and the Marathon Virgin Blog. See for more information on the is very skilled and talented writer and successful college professor who loves Gator sports.

But a large part of the success of the Journalism and Communication Colege is Dean Diane McFarlin.  Her journalism career began in high school and she is an alumnus of Florida where she earned a B.S. in journalism in 1976 and has held memos jobs as a professional journalist.

She became dean of the UFC College of Journalism and Communications in January 2013. In this role, she has expanded interdisciplinary initiatives, established a central hub for professional advising and student services, and increased research productivity through top faculty hires and increased funding. In addition to academic excellence, the college’s hallmark is the professional immersion opportunities it offers students.

Venues include the multimedia Innovation News Center, GatorVision sports production, and The Agency, an integrated communication agency which opened in early 2015. Each of these programs is led by professionals, staffed by students and inspired by faculty.

McFarlin is active in state and national media organizations. She is a past president of the American Society of News Editors and has served six times as a juror for the Pulitzer Prizes.  She has taught at the Centers for Independent Journalism in Prague and Bucharest and addressed the World Editors Forum on the subject of multimedia newsrooms. The Dean has worked on behalf of numerous nonprofit organizations and launched the Season of Sharing charitable fund, which has raised $19 million to provide crisis funding to families on the brink of homelessness.

As the field of communication is an ever-changing industry that one must be prepared to change with or look for a different line of work. The curriculum in Gainesville is outstanding and this program is definitely made my list of school that is a must apply to school.

My career aspiration includes but is not limited to writing for ESPN the Magazine or possible Sports Illustrated magazine. Newspaper wise, The New York Times sits a the top of my list. After that newspaper maybe the Los Angeles Times or Sacramento Bee Newspaper.  It would be even cooler to work for a college or university sports communication department as a media contact for one of the school’s athletic teams. But that dream job for me would be working in public relations for the LA Lakers.  One of my favorite professional teams. I’m talking “Die Hard” Lakers Fan here!

Outside of sports, I would love to work for or start a nonprofit that helps kids with cancer or people who are homeless.  If no job opportunities develop then I ‘m happy to just put my degree from whatever school on the wall and continue writing this blog.

No worries if you cannot travel to Gainsville to be a student on campus, if you really want to be a Gator, you might consider one of the many online undergraduate and graduate programs offered by this institution of learning.  #GOGATORS!

Journalism is an exciting, dynamic career critical to the future of an informed enlightened society.





James Carter

James Carter has a real passion for online "stuff", is an avid WordPress fan and user, and gets great satisfaction out of helping others. -- so in his spare time, he's busy doing community service with his church, spending time with family and friends while creating post for this blog.

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