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A Guide to the Rae O. Weimer Interview

Finding aid prepared by Joyce Dewsbury

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections
March 2005

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Weimer, Rae O.
Title: Rae O. Weimer Interview
Dates: 1993
Abstract: Interviews by Lisa Barr, a newscaster at WUFT radio, with Rae Weimer, who talks about the formation of the College of Journalism, his years at PM newspaper, and his friendship with I. F. Stone.
Extent: 0.01 Linear feet. 1 box (2 audio cassette tapes).
Identification: Ms Coll. 86
Language(s): English

Biographical/Historical Note

First dean of the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida.

Scope and Content

This single audio cassette tape contains a series of interviews in five parts of Rae O. Weimer, former dean of the College of journalism and Communications, by Lisa Barr, a newscaster at WUFT radio. The interviews were broadcast the first and second weeks of January 1993. In the interviews, Weimer talks about the formation of the College of Journalism, his years at PM newspaper, and his friendship with I. F. Stone. A copy of the original cassette tape is included.

Notes Taken of Audio Tape of Lisa Barr's Interview of Rae O. Weimer:

Part I. How Rae O. Weimer came to the University of Florida in 1949. The UF Administration wanted more talent in journalism. They wanted journalism education upgraded. They went to President Miller who started interviewing people. The committee consisted of newspaper editors. Weimer was interviewed and said he had never been to journalism school. At his interview were the president, deans, and three newspapermen. No one knew what kind of questions to ask him. And he didn't know what kind of questions to ask them. Finally someone asked him if he thought he could do the job and he responded positively.

Weimer said that when he came here it (Journalism) was a three man department, there was no typewriter, and the only book was a beat up international dictionary. Barracks Building E behind Tigert Hall was its location. Within a short time the journalism department became the fastest growing school at the University of Florida. It grew from the nineteen students then to more than 1600 today.

Part II. Obstacles Weimer overcame to get the Department of Journalism recognized as a college. In 1948 when he arrived journalism was a step child and not that important. An early course in commerce and journalism had been kicked out of the Business College. Journalism was then a part of the College of Arts and Sciences but did not attract many students. When Weimer arrived his department was allotted $70 per year for textbooks and supplies. Weimer reorganized the high school press association. In the Fall of 1950 he and John Wells started an aggressive high school recruitment program. He and Wells gave all day workshops on weekends at high schools around the state. They attracted many students this way. In the seminars they included a broad spectrum of students. By the mid fifties they outgrew the building in which they were located (presumably Bldg. E). Weimer discussed the attempt to put journalism in the Stadium. There was a precedent for this at another university. They managed to garner funds and built one half of the building. Eventually they had to go to the Legislature to get money to complete the building. Weimer said they reasoned that no one would want just half a building to be built. In the Fall of 1955 journalism and WRUF moved to their new quarters in the Stadium. They also worked to get a program in TV so in 1956 the television station also moved into the Stadium. In 1968 when Weimer retired it was from the College of Journalism (not department).

Part III. Continuation of Part II. Weimer was the first dean of the College of Journalism and Communication. Weimer was honored at the December 1992 graduation. From 1948-1968 Weimer was dean of the Department (later College) of Journalism and in 1974 he retired. He is now 89 years old and had a recent bout with cancer. In this interview Weimer said that television does a terrible job with news coverage. The ability to have instantaneous coverage is good but there are terrible programs for kids. In twenty-two minutes one can get all the news in the world and then one is educated. No one fills the gap. Newspapers do not seem to be able to do it. Weimer left college in 1926. At that time there were eleven newspapers in New York City alone. Many cities had at least two or three newspapers. Today people come home from work and just watch TV and get the 6 o'clock news and then think they know what's going on. People today are mentally lazy.

He was a Scripps Howards (sp.?) and was news editor at their office in Akron, Ohio. When that closed he was sent to Boston where he was an assistant city editor. Then when that office closed he went to the Cleveland Press. He laughed as he said that the papers closed behind him. After the Cleveland Press job he went to PM.

Part IV. Rae O. Weimer's work experience prior to coming to UF. Weimer recounts his job at PM Magazine, his colleague I.F. Stone, the ad policy, and the prospectus of PM. In this magazine consumer and health reporting were introduced. He mentioned the liberal slant of PM and the criticism that it was "pinko".

Part V. PM Magazine and I.F. Stone. From 1940-1948 Rae O. Weimer worked for PM. He reminisces about I.F. "Izzie" Stone who was a colleague and friend. I.F. Stone worked in PM's Washington bureau. There was interaction of staff who worked in the New York and Washington bureaus. Weimer recounts how Izzie worked and managed to get to the sources even secret documents in some cases. Weimer also recounts a humorous story about I.F. Stone. Weimer says that the progressive newspapers today are doing they type of things that PM did.

Access or Use Restrictions


The collection is open for research.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Rae O. Weimer Interview, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Journalism -- Study and teaching -- Florida.
PM (New York, N.Y. : Daily) -- History.
Stone, I. F. (Isidor F.), 1907-
University of Florida. College of Journalism and Communications -- History.

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