Stay out of the paper " and other great advice
One of the great traditions of graduation is the graduation speech.
Another of the great graduations traditions is being bored stiff while listening to graduation speeches.
Still, it’s an honor to be asked to speak at a graduation ceremony, which is probably why no one has ever invited me to do it.
But I have a graduation speech ready if the call ever does come, so I might as well share it with you now:
Good afternoon, and congratulations to this year’s graduates.
I’ve been asked to speak today because … well, I’m not sure why I’ve been asked to speak to you today. I don’t have any great wisdom to offer, and I’m a little short on jokes I can tell in mixed company. What I can share, though, is some advice from the perspective of a newspaper reporter who’s had experience covering a little bit of everything.
One of the fun things about the newspaper business is writing about kids doing neat things, whether in school or in clubs. And kids always seem to enjoy getting their names in the paper, because, well, any story with a kid’s name in it is going to hang on the family refrigerator for weeks, and, sometimes, until the article disintegrates around the magnet.
I hate to tell you this, but for most of you, the days of getting your name in the paper are probably past. Many of you will get married and have kids over the course of your lives, and, if you continue to live in smallish towns, that will rate a mention in the community pages. Some of you will go on to other achievements in community groups, or in the military. That could get you a little ink from time to time.
But for others, the next time you’ll be mentioned in a newspaper is after you’ve done something stupid.
I hope that doesn’t happen, so I’m here today to tell you I don’t want to see your name in the newspaper while I’m working here.
I don’t want to see you mentioned in a press release from any police department, especially when your name appears in the same sentence as:
– Arrested following a high-speed chase.
– Had a blood alcohol content of …
– Is now facing felony charges of …
– Was pulled from the vehicle after it landed on its top in a pile of pig manure.
I also don’t want to see your name in anything from the U.S. Attorney’s office. That’s usually bad news.
I don’t want to see any of your names in a press release containing the words, “Was indicted this week by a federal grand jury.”
You probably won’t end up on mom and dad’s refrigerator door if a story with your name in it details a plot to blow an arm off the Mount of the Holy Cross. Unless you’ve helped foil that plot, in which case your parents will have the story framed.
There are other ways I hope I never see your names in the paper, but you get the idea.
What I hope for all of you is an adult life marked by happy moments. A few of the big ones might grab some ink. But most, I’m happy to say, don’t attract much attention.
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