UF professor David Carlson receives top SPJ honor
Published: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 12:39 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 12:39 p.m.
David Carlson, a University of Florida professor who built a reputation as a journalist pushing the envelope in new media technologies, has received the Wells Memorial Key, the highest honor awarded by the Society of Professional Journalists to one of its members.
Carlson, executive director of the Center for Media Innovation and Research at UF, received the award Monday at the SPJ's President's Installation Banquet in Anaheim, Calif. He was nominated by 10 former and current SPJ and Sigma Delta Chi leaders.
“I am incredibly honored to be singled out this way,” Carlson said via email while flying home Tuesday from California. “It's the greatest honor of my life and one I never expected. Wells Key recipients are supermen and women, icons I can only hope to emulate.”
The Wells Memorial Key -- given for outstanding service -- is named after the society's second president, Chester Wells. About 100 Wells Keys have been awarded in the society's history, Carlson said.
Carlson became the first journalism professor elected president of the society when he took that office in 2005 and is one of two people to hold every officer post in the organization.
“Our honoree has volunteered nearly selflessly for 20 years,” outgoing president Sonny Albarado said in a news release. “He served as president when the SPJ made its largest distribution from the Legal Defense Fund.”
The Legal Defense Fund is used to help finance the defense of journalists fighting for the First Amendment rights. SPJ was founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi and is dedicated to freedom of information.
Carlson put more than 25 years into daily newspaper journalism before turning his sights on educating future generations of reporters and editors. He has been a professor of journalism at UF since 1993, helping to develop and launch news and interactive media websites.
Carlson helped develop the Electronic Trib for the Albuquerque Tribune in 1990, and three years later he and his master's students at UF built the first journalism site on the World Wide Web.
“That bit of history took place in 3219 Weimer Hall,” he said. “That night, we surfed every website in the world. ... That was possible because there were about 50 sites at the that point in time.”
Carlson said he is most proud of the accomplishments his students have achieved.
“Many have gone on to amazing careers,” he said.