Senior editor for ESPN.com, Matt Lee, came to Steve Fox’s Sports Journalism class at the University of Massachusetts Wednesday morning to discuss his career, along with offering some advice for the future journalists.
Lee, who studied journalism at George Mason University in Washington D.C., always wanted to pursue a career in writing, but there was something keeping him from actively approaching the dream; his fears. Those fears are what kept him from joining the school newspaper until his sophomore year at George Mason. Although he admits he wasted a whole year and a half of his college career, Lee believes he learned a valuable lesson that he continues to preach to anyone willing to listen.
“Don’t be afraid, just do it.”
The quote comes from an excerpt he read in the biography of Apple founder, Steve Jobs, pertaining to a company called Corning Glass. The company was unsuccessful decades ago in trying to find a buyer for their product, gorilla glass. Years later, Jobs decided that he wanted to buy all the gorilla glass that Corning had stored away, and then some, however, Corning’s CEO insisted he couldn’t manufacture enough of his product in the short amount of time that Jobs gave him. Jobs responded with, “Don’t be afraid, just do it.” Needless to say, Corning “did it”, and Apple’s iPhone became one of the largest selling commodities to date.
This story stood as the basis for Lee’s message that he was trying to embed in us, future journalists. That being, don’t be afraid to do what you love, “you have to practice your skills.”
One of the more interesting parts of Lee’s talk was when a student asked him what he though about the critics who believe journalism is a dying practice.
Lee spoke a lot about his career, how we got started as opposed to where he has ended up. When he first started out at the Washington Post, upon graduating from George Mason, there was no Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Craigslist, or iPhone. The world of journalism was far different than it is now because of the technology that was not available at the time. He and his employers even thought the Internet was just a “fad.” Obviously, the Internet has stuck around and changed the world in ways no one ever thought possible, making Lee wonder what his job is going to be in five years. As he put it himself, “Journalism’s not going anywhere. It’s changing. It’s evolving.”
Above all, the senior writer for ESPN.com told us to love what we do. In his own words,
“Find your passion and pursue it. This (journalism) is a tough business. You should love what you’re doing.”
It’s a message that really hit home with me, as I too, like many other journalists, have been skeptical at times of my career path. I love to write. There is no question about that, but I’ve been back and forth with myself on whether or not it’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. All I have been hearing for the past two years is how journalism is a dying business, and to not pursue a career in it. Lee gave me a new perspective and highlighted what’s probably more important than anything else in this whole ordeal; the actuality of loving what you do. It’s simple, yet truthful in the purest sense. It’s something you don’t hear everyday, but served as a breath of fresh air for aspiring journalists.