Diane H. McFarlin named dean of UF College of Journalism and Communications
GAINESVILLE, Fla. —Diane H. McFarlin, publisher of the Herald-Tribune Media Group in Sarasota, has been named dean of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, UF President Bernie Machen announced today.
McFarlin, a 1976 journalism graduate of UF, will assume her new position Jan. 1. She succeeds John Wright, who will return to faculty in 2013.
“Diane has a comprehensive view of the rapidly changing media industry and the challenges it faces,” Machen said. “As the publisher of a major media operation, she understands not just journalism but also advertising, broadcast media, online media, public relations – everything represented in the College of Journalism and Communications. I’m confident that knowledge will translate into giving its graduates all the tools they need to compete with the best.”
McFarlin said she’s thrilled to return to her alma mater to take the reins of one of the nation’s leading journalism and communications colleges.
“The college has distinguished itself on multiple fronts,” McFarlin said. “It is a leader in graduate education and research, its venues for innovation are unparalleled, and its emphasis on real-world experience enables students to graduate with the capacity to navigate all manner of media. At a time of such complexity and change, the best colleges of journalism and communications can serve as beacons. My goal as dean will be to help elevate that role.”
McFarlin, who was named an Alumna of Distinction by the college in 1999, is a fourth-generation Floridian who began her journalism career in high school and took a reporting job in Sarasota after earning her degree at UF. She rose through the ranks to become managing editor of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune at 31. She left the newspaper in 1987 to serve as the executive editor of The Gainesville Sun. She returned to the Herald Tribune in 1990, serving as executive editor for a decade and as publisher since 1999.
Under her leadership, the Herald-Tribune Media Group, the largest media company in southwest Florida, has been touted as an industry leader in media convergence. The group launched a 24-hour cable news channel, SNN, in 1995 as a fully integrated part of the Herald-Tribune’s news and advertising departments. SNN was sold in 2009 and continues to operate out of the Herald-Tribune newsroom.
The Herald-Tribune also was the first newspaper in the nation to create a readership editor’s position devoted to advancing practices identified by Northwestern University’s Readership Institute to deepen reader engagement.
McFarlin has been active in state and national media organizations. She is a past president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and has served six times as a juror for the Pulitzer Prizes. She has taught at the Centers for Independent Journalism in the Czech Republic and Romania, and addressed the World Editors Forum in Amsterdam on the subject of multimedia newsrooms. She currently serves on the boards of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association and the Florida Press Association.
McFarlin has worked on behalf of numerous nonprofit organizations. She launched the Season of Sharing charitable fund in 2000 in partnership with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, which has raised more than $6 million to rescue families from the brink of homelessness. She recently ended her term as chair of the foundation’s board of directors.