In August 1983, I gave up a good, respectable minimum-wage job to work at the Future for 38 cents an hour.
Minimum wage was $3.35.
What I gained was a priceless journalism education. It was at the Future working as a reporter, columnist and news editor that I learned to be fearless but not reckless, to question authority and to never accept at face value what an administrator told me without adequate documentation. That’s called “critical thinking,’’ and it’s the primary purpose of a university education.
It also baptized me into the camaraderie that is journalism. It’s a fitting irony that John Quinn, the founding editor of USA TODAY and a former president of Gannett, once famously quipped that making a newspaper is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. Making the Central Florida Future sure was fun for the 48 years it lasted. I have asked some of my friends who shared in that fun to share some of their experiences.
Julie Anderson, senior vice president of digital publishing at Orlando Sentinel Media Group and former copy editor, news editor, managing editor, editor-in-chief of the Future: “Working at the Future was the most important experience I had at UCF. In that office trailer, about a dozen of us figured out how to uncover stories, write on deadline and get the paper to press every week. We were student-led and managed, which was exhilarating and at times contentious. Many of us in the Future family have had successful journalism careers, and it all started there.
José R. Rodriguez, circuit judge, Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida: “It was 1972 when I started at what was then Florida Technological University. Later, in 1973, I started writing, then editing, finally was acting editor-in-chief of the Future before moving on to law school.
“My tenure at the FuTUre, as it was called then, taught me several lessons. First, I learned to have confidence in my writing. Next, I experienced the power of censorship and learned the ways to fight it peacefully by persistence and passive resistance to those in power — the administration.
“As a circuit judge, my FuTUre experience showed me the importance of openness and transparency for all branches of government. Similarly, I learned that trust in government only comes from adherence and faithful observance of the First Amendment’s guaranteed freedom of the press.’’
Michael Griffin, vice president of public affairs for Florida Hospital, 2015 inductee to the Nicholson School Hall of Fame and former editor-in-chief of the Future: “When I walked into a dilapidated trailer that was the Future office in 1980, I walked into a certified madhouse. A wild creativity and wonderful weirdness enveloped the place. We were idealistic misfits who wanted to change the world, starting with a relatively obscure commuter school in East Orange County.
“A skinny, naive freshman, I learned to question authority. Hardly a day went by when we weren’t making someone angry about something. We did it with love and loyalty to UCF. We did it in the unshakable belief that our calling was to hold up a mirror and force the administration and student government to confront the reflection. The tenacity I honed in those days served me throughout my journalism career and serves me today.
“We played hard. We worked even harder. And we learned a lot about responsibility, ethics and ourselves. I cannot imagine a UCF without a Future.’’