Rick Reilly returned yesterday to the University of Colorado's J-School to deliver a speech to graduates. A 1981 alumni himself, Reilly sent out the last pure CU journalism grads, as the program converts to "journalism plus" next year. Gathered from reports by the Denver Post and Daily Camera, here are some of the words of wisdom he imparted:
"When you get out there, all I ask is that you: DON'T WRITE FOR FREE! Nobody asks strippers to strip for free, doctors to doctor for free or professors to profess for free. Have some pride! What you know how to do now is a skill that 99.9 percent of the people don't have. If you do it for free, they won't respect you in the morning. Or the next day. Or the day after that. You sink everybody's boat in the harbor, not just yours. So just DON'T!"
"And don't ever use the word 'enjoy.' Ever."
A professor back in college told him that he was too good for sportswriting.
"I look at my tax return this year and say, 'Pfft, no I'm not," Reilly said.
He told graduates that journalism will always be relevant, and the "digital house of cards will fold" without trained professionals to dig up documents, check facts, interview people and write well. Bloggers who hold down couch springs in their mothers' basements and write for a few people, he said, aren't carrying out those duties.
"One of my rules is to write sentences that have never been uttered before in the history of the English language. . . . So when you get out there, say things people have NEVER said before, like: 'Tiger, I'd like you to meet my sister.' 'Brett Favre has finally made up his mind.'"
Young journalists, the biggest present you give yourselves as you head out into the workplace is to NEVER FUCKING LISTEN TO RICK REILLY. His big advice about not writing sentences people have already read? Reilly has made a career of writing sentences people have already read. Here are a few selected instances of Reilly's never-before-uttered sentences.