Journalism professor receives highest honor from professional group
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Journalism Professor David Carlson has been awarded the Wells Memorial Key, the highest honor for a Society of Professional Journalists member.
Carlson received the award at the President’s Installation Banquet on Aug. 26 at the Excellence in Journalism conference in Anaheim, Calif.
The Wells Memorial Key was first awarded in 1913 to honor Chester Wells, the society’s second national president, who died in office at age 26. It is awarded to a member for outstanding service to the society during the preceding year or over a period of years.
Carlson is the second UF College of Journalism and Communications faculty member to receive the award, joining the late H.G. “Buddy” Davis who was honored in 1977.
“Our honoree has volunteered nearly selflessly for 20 years,” outgoing president Sonny Albarado said when presenting Carlson with the jeweled key. “He served as president when the SPJ made its largest distribution from the Legal Defense Fund.” The Legal Defense Fund pays for the legal fees of journalists who find themselves defending their First Amendment rights.
Nominated by 10 past and current SDX and SPJ leaders, Carlson served first as a board member for SPJ and then on the board of Sigma Delta Chi Foundation. He is also one of the few individuals who has served the society in each of the four officers’ positions: president, president-elect, secretary-treasurer and vice president for campus affairs.
In his acceptance speech when he became national SPJ president in 2005, Carlson noted that journalism ethics come from the beholders of the craft — journalists. He inspired the audience to live by the SPJ Code of Ethics and challenged them to take ethics into their own hands.
Eight years later, Carlson thanked many of his friends and fellow members of the society.
“I don’t think anyone can be an SPJ president or an SPJ leader without the incredible support group that is the past leadership,” he said, after his colleagues ushered him to the stage with a standing ovation. “All of you have made whatever I do possible, and I am humbled by this award. Thank you so much.”
Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.