Letter from the Editor: Spinnaker turns 45

Carter Mudgett, Editor in Chief

“Compared to the buried cobblestones and rutted tracks of an old Kings Highway, the advent of a new newspaper may seem of little consequence.”

That was the first line published in the first ‘Letter from the Editor’ on the second page of the University of North Florida’s first newspaper: The Halyard. Although The Spinnaker wouldn’t be founded until three years later in 1977, this short, half-page letter was the beginning of our story. 

Words read "The Halyard"
The Halyard.

Entitled “Goals, roles of newspaper outlined,” a UNF faculty member, reporter, columnist and editor named William Roach wrote just shy of 860 words to explain his role as The Halyard’s editor, the role of the newspaper and promise four simple, important things: 





“The Halyard is your newspaper,” Roach wrote, a fact that has not changed since, although the name has. 

Named after a racing sail — colorful, powerful and built for speed — Spinnaker today is simultaneously the same as and different from the original newspaper it set out to be.

A black and white photo of students and Roach sitting around a table during a meeting
Professor and The Halyard editor William Roach (back center) talks with newspaper staff during a meeting, circa 1974-1976.

“This first issue, we hope, reflects those functions. But it is not a typical issue […]” Roach wrote in his letter published in 1974. “But this issue does, however, provide a start, a faint idea perhaps of what may develop. As we begin, we hope that we will soon develop more news stories — both on campus and off campus.”

And develop we have. We’ve added four additional departments: Spinnaker Radio, Spinnaker TV, Business and Creative Services, which bring us to a grand total of five departments that comprise Spinnaker Media. Each one is led by its own student leader who works with a team of more students. 

UNF Spinnaker is an award-winning digital newspaper, releasing content online and in a themed, semesterly magazine. WSKR 95.5FM Spinnaker is a low-power FM radio station that airs around campus and on TuneIn. Spinnaker TV airs on the UNF campus channel 15-5 and on YouTube

They are separate but work together in a converged newsroom. From the Editor in Chief to the reporters and everyone in between, Spinnaker is for students, by students. 

Just as the world of media is constantly shifting and changing, Spinnaker works to stay ahead of the game every day. 

Spinnaker brings you what is most meaningful and what is most important to UNF. Not just the positive but also the negative, the hard to talk about and the news that slips through the cracks. 

A mural painted on Spinnaker's front office wall, featuring colors of blue, red, green and pink with illustrations of newspapers, social media, radio waves and TV
Full shot of the mural in Spinnaker Media’s office. Photo courtesy of Jill Responte

In the words of Henry Ward Beecher, “the newspaper is a greater treasure to the people than uncounted millions of gold.” 

We, like all news outlets, operate as watchdogs, bringing you the good, the bad and the ugly. We bring you news you find funny, take joy in and often get angry at. Spinnaker’s role at UNF is priceless, although I wouldn’t complain about having uncounted millions of gold. 

Our mission is simple. Bring the UNF community news, entertainment and a forum for the exchange of ideas while giving our students a place to innovate and develop their skills. Find us on the second floor of the Student Union East building, Room 2200, where students work tirelessly to bring you the happenings of UNF.

Read all the stories published with The Halyard here. Read all the printed stories with The Spinnaker here and all the online stories by visiting unfspinnaker.com.

Want to get involved? Visit here to get started, we’d love to have you.


For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].