It is an amazing honor for me to be here today.
But first, let me address the thoughts I am sure are going through many of your heads right now —
Is this some kind of scam or what!
No, but seriously…
I’d like to begin by repeating a few things I’m sure you’ve already heard…
Your education has been one big, huge, waste of time.
That you are all going into a dying industry!
Or how about this one — journalism is dead!
You’ve heard all of this, right?
And seriously, how can you blame people for thinking these things?
And how the ones that have stayed open have had to slash their staffs.
And how the reporters who are left standing are all hacks.
Or Fake News.
A week doesn’t go by where someone doesn’t tell me I should find another job.
You know, one with a future.
And I’m only twelve — what does this mean for all of you old washed up twenty-somethings?
To the 2019 Graduating Class, you face a daunting task.
There will be those out there waiting for you to fail.
And others who believe you were doomed before even earning your first byline…
They are wrong.
There is another path…
But getting there won’t be easy.
1) Keep your Ledes tight
See – words on screens are usually in shades of black on white, but life if full of bright colors.
There are amazing mysteries and stories all around us.
Life isn’t boring. Don’t let your writing be.
People are busy. And they don’t have a huge attention spans.
Get to the point. Let the facts tell the story. And most importantly, keep your ledes short.
2) Talk to Real People
Politicians and law enforcement can be great sources of information.
Who are the real people?
Real people have real stories.
And if you take the time to listen, you would be amazed at what the real everyday people know.
3) Trust No One
The answer; Don’t trust either of the people.
Even good people.
And sometimes without knowing it.
Sometimes cops lie.
Sometimes government officials lie.
And yes, sometimes even the everyday people lie.
That’s why it is important to have your loyalty NOT to any personalities but to the truth.
And only the truth.
Trust no one.
Follow the facts.
4) Get Away From Your Desk
So many reporters just sit at desks all day refreshing their emails or checking social media.
That sounds like death to me.
The best reporters I know aren’t waiting for the story to hit their inbox. They go find the story.
How can you report on a community from an office? That sounds like a fraud to me.
Don’t sit at a desk waiting for email tips or press releases. Get out into your community.
5) Bring Pencils
Pens stop working when it gets cold outside.
I learned this one the hard way.
6) Remember YOUR Boss
So they didn’t.
I was only nine — but seriously, I think I almost threw up in my mouth when I heard that.
I knew even at that age that a reporter doesn’t work for the police.
A reporter works for the people.
You are reporters.
You don’t work for the police.
You don’t work for the government.
You work for the people. And if you recognize that, the people will work for you.
7) Don’t Read the Comments
I admit, this one is hard.
We all want to see what people are saying about our work.
And I understand that most of you are going to ignore this advice, at least at first.
But trust me — Don’t read the comments.
They will only make you feel bad about yourself.
And bad about the world.
8) Don’t Forget Your Super Power
Reporting is about getting the truth to the people.
How do we get to the truth?
This isn’t complicated.
It’s the same way reporters have gotten to the truth for years.
By answering the six sacred questions of journalism– Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?
Look – everybody wants to change the world.
And a reporter is armed with the most persuasive tool in the world — the facts.
That’s the power of the truth. The power of facts.
And THAT is the REAL super power of a reporter.
Which leads me to my next point —
9) Don’t Mix Politics and Reporting —
Look — I believe the future has never been brighter for reporters.
This isn’t a good thing.
This is a great thing.
Each one of these people is a potential subscriber to the Orange Street News.
First, I keep my expenses low.
And I think that is how it should be.
But the skeptics aren’t all wrong.
See — there IS a crisis in media.
But it isn’t the shrinking newsrooms or losses in revenue.
The crisis we are facing, is one of trust.
See -too many people just don’t trust what they are reading anymore.
Don’t believe me?
See – by mixing their political opinions with their news they’ve created two different medias.
And without new information, how can people grow?
That’s why I keep my political opinions to myself and am careful to report only facts.
I know that if I lose the trust of my readers, I might as well find another job.
But as long as I have that trust, I can keep growing.
And if you take this advice, so will you.
But these reporters who spent their time dividing us and not reporting facts aren’t the future.
They are about to be the past.
See — they are dinosaurs.
And they are all going extinct.
I say good riddance.
They’ve had their time. Its over.
WE are the generation that can restore the people’s trust.
See — we aren’t the pro-Trump reporters.
We aren’t the anti-Trump reporters.
We aren’t the left-wing reporters.
We aren’t the right-wing reporters.
We are the generation that will be known simply as…………REPORTERS.
That is a trust I guard with my life.
You should too.
And as you move forward, it will be your most important currency.
To the Class of 2019 —
It is up to each and every one of you to change that narrative.
To the facts.
To uncovering corruption — where ever we find it.
In just a few moments you will be graduating.
You are moments away from beginning this journey.
Moments away from embarking on the most noble of professions — that of reporter.
It will not be easy.
You will not make a lot of money.
And if you are good at your job, you will be despised by more people than you can possibly imagine.
But as new beginning…
When this generation..
A media based on truth.
On those six timeless questions..