The University of Florida announced a $2 million commitment from UF alumni Linda and Ken McGurn to establish the McGurn Fellowship Program for Media Integrity and the Fight Against Disinformation.
The gift will fund fellowships at the UF College of Journalism and Communications, the Levin College of Law and the Consortium on Trust in Media and Technology, a multidisciplinary initiative launched in 2019 to understand the dynamics that have undermined the trustworthiness of content and information disseminated via technology. Both colleges will appoint scholars and practicing journalists and lawyers to serve as McGurn Fellows for various lengths of time.
“The spread of false information and increasing distrust of credible news organizations is a scourge that is polarizing our nation and endangering our ability to survive as a democracy,” said Linda McGurn. “Ken and I are thrilled to be able to support the Levin College of Law, College of Journalism and Communications and the Consortium on Trust in Media and Technology in their efforts to combat this perilous trend.” The McGurns are principles in McGurn Management Company based in Gainesville.
The fellows will work with students and faculty to: Develop ways to educate the public about disinformation and the technology that contributes to its spread; regulate disinformation within the confines of the First Amendment; and support reporting and decision-making rooted in evidence and facts. McGurn Fellows will offer courses, conduct workshops, make campus-wide presentations, or develop white papers and policy proposals designed for national distribution, among other activities.
“The generosity of Linda and Ken McGurn will position the University of Florida as a leader in efforts to strengthen our democracy and the rule of law through accurate reporting that rebuilds our capacity for reasoned debate,” said Laura A. Rosenbury, Dean and Levin, Mabie, & Levin Professor at the Levin College of Law. “The Levin College of Law is excited to partner with the College of Journalism and Communications in this critical task.”
“We are very grateful to the McGurns for supporting UF’s efforts to address the continued spread of misinformation and disinformation, which is undermining media credibility,” said Diane McFarlin, the recently retired Dean of the College of Journalism and Communications. “This support will be particularly helpful to the Consortium on Trust in Media and Technology, which is focused on research and development to restore the trustworthiness of vital information that is disseminated through technology.”