Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Commencement address

Okay, so this broadcasting school (which shall remain anonymous) has asked me to deliver the commencement address. So I've been working on this, trying to say just the right things to send the starry-eyed graduates off into the real world. Check it out and let me know if I've missed anything...

Good afternoon, graduates! It is wonderful to see a group of fresh young faces about to head out into the broadcasting industry and make your mark. I know that all of you cannot wait to hit the ground running and change the world.

You've been through a long, and expensive journey. I note all the parents nodding with a look of relief, as they've probably spent more than one hundred thousand dollars to put your through college. And I know they will be happy to see you leave the house as you start that first job with a salary between fifteen and twenty grand.

(At this point in the address I will pause, as several parents will no doubt do a header into the campus coy pond. I have already arranged for a nearby nursing school to stand by with defibrillators and oxygen.)

In light of that economic fact, each of you will find some very useful items in the goodie bag I've provided. A pair of scissors to clip coupons, a siphon hose (better known as a broadcasting credit card), and a list of agencies to which you may sell your blood.

But, alas, you can't put a price on a fulfilling career. You'll be working with some of the most creative people in the world. I want you to look around at your classmates, because many of them who have been your friends...

Will be trampling you in the effort to climb up the ladder. Yes, this is an industry where you have to watch your back.

Most of you envision a working environment that looks like a movie set. You'll have your own office, field producer, photog and audio man, makeup artist, and hair stylist. Ah, now I see those parents smiling. But in reality you'll be spending your day working out of a building that could be used as b-roll for an Iraq story. You'll comb your own hair, many will shoot your own video, and if you want something done right, you'll do it yourself.

This is an industry in which we seek the truth at all costs, yet those who work in it will continually lie to one another. You may be able to trust your first boss, but you may not. As journalists you must learn to dig beneath the surface, not only when working on your stories, but in dealing with your co-workers.

I'm sorry if I've cracked your rose colored glasses on what should be a happy day, but I'm just playing Dad here, trying to prepare you for the real world. I want you all to avoid the mistakes that can set you back, and to look out for number one from day one.

So, in closing, a few words of advice to take with you on your journey:

-No one should sign a three-year contract for an entry level job.

-Have a lawyer look at any contract before signing it.

-Ask for help when you need it. Even though you are leaving here with a degree, you will find that you know very little and have much to learn.

-Photogs are your best friends.

-Stay out of the police blotter. Never, ever, drink and drive.

-Never be afraid to send a tape anywhere. You are not in a position to judge your own talent.

Finally, you should leave here knowing you have the power to change the world and make it a better place. Do so when you can.

And know that in the real world, you no longer get a ribbon just for trying. If you want a ribbon, go to a fabric store.



Jen said...

It's a bit too REAL. Sometimes us young folks need to hear some good stuff too, an inspiring quote or thought. I remember one of your blog entries about how being a reporter is a job unlike any other. You wrote about the possibilities for adventure and not sitting at a desk all day. I remember that inspired me...And believe me we've all heard the bad stuff, my college professors were so negative I almost wanted to change majors. It's one thing to prepare us for reality it's another to crush our spirit. (Not that you're doing that in your speech, just saying...)

-The Grape said...

Jen, I hope you understand my sarcastic attempt to prepare you guys for the worst parts of the industry so you can enjoy the best parts of the job.

I just hear from so many people in their first jobs who all seem to say, "They never told me about this stuff in college."

Jen said...

I think you should keep everything you have, I think it's funny and honest. I just meant maybe you could add a few lines about the great parts of the business,the few that there are lol.

and since I'm here commenting. I have a question, I graduated w/ a degree in Journalism a couple years ago and never really pursued reporter jobs as much as I should have, I got stuck in a couple dead end desk jobs (currently sitting at one). I'm sending tapes out now, but do you think news directors are passing me up for recent grads because of my work history?

-The Grape said...

NDs hire reporters based on their tapes, and ability to write. Your current job probably has little to do with the situation... as many grads find it hard to get an on-camera job and often end up behind a desk right out of college.

For what it's worth, I got my first TV job at 28.