Fake Newsman Tweets Commencement Speech to Journalism Students: ‘You Suck At This But You’ll Get Better’

1Gary Vosot is a fake local newscaster with a lot of chutzpah and more than 4,500 Twitter followers. Yesterday, Vosot (real name: Matt Evans) tweeted top tips to impending journalism school graduates. He described the roughly hour-long stream as an impromptu commencement speech.

The unfiltered advice appears to have earned the respect of media pros and profs far and wide. As a former sports reporter tweeted, “I know he’s a parody account, but every young journalist should read the @GaryVosot commencement tweets from today.”

Similarly, the communications director for the American Heart Association shared, “Loving @GaryVosot’s commencement address tweets to journalism students — real world advice delivered with some comedy.”

Below is Vosot’s tweeted speech, interspersed with a few follow-up perspectives of my own. (For those not yet in on the joke, VOSOT is a common broadcast journalism acronym for Voice Over Sound on Tape.)

Dan Addendum: Everyone’s post-grad first leap is different. I’ve had friends find success with the homeward-bound-start-small approach and others who are now ‘making it’ after they relocated the day after commencement and started the slog in New York City, Los Angeles and even foreign metropolises like Hong Kong. It’s less where you start than how you take advantage of where you are. If you find yourself at first in a small market, follow the Vosot MO laid out above and learn to do everything and push for all the exposure and mentoring you can muster. If you’re the little cog at the big city outlet, aim to get noticed by doing the one thing you’ve been asked to do better than everyone else — and by showing extra initiative outside your assigned wheelhouse at just the right moments. In addition, in the larger markets, soak up the endless informal and formal networking opportunities and the chances to become familiar with — and eventually known within — the city’s journalism scene.

Dan Addendum: I’m reminded of a quote from the late great New York Timesman David Carr. As he once shared, “The dirty secret: journalism has always been horrible to get in; you always have to eat so much crap to find a place to stand. I waited tables for seven years, did writing on the side. If you’re gonna get a job that’s a little bit of a caper, that isn’t really a job, that under ideal circumstances you get to at least leave the building and leave your desktop, go out, find people more interesting than you, learn about something, come back and tell other people about it — that should be hard to get into. That should be hard to do. No wonder everybody’s lined up, trying to get into it. It beats working.”

Dan Addendum: As a once-upon-a-time undergrad who loved and practiced journalism as much as I could at a liberal arts school, pursuing and earning a journalism master’s degree was both life-affirming and career-defining. If you’ve already been steeped in the journalism muckety muck for four years though, I agree with Vosot that additional semesters of straight-up j-school may not be the path to take. In that case, search for a more specialized program — maybe one devoted to a particular content area you’re interested in (such as health journalism or media law) or one on the cutting-edge of tech-geek innovation. Or even consider studying a discipline outside the ranks of the journalism universe entirely. Bottom line, there is nothing wrong with wanting to better yourself through academia. After all, journalists are known for their insatiable curiosity — a little about a lot and a lot about a little, as they say. And more practically, the master’s is also a gateway to some teaching and advising gigs that might be of interest as extra income. More debt might be the reality, but there are also more fellowships, scholarships and assistantships than ever. Ask around. Network. Be willing to relocate. You may be the one who ends up getting paid — to learn.

Dan Addendum: Don’t fear taking off — not literally being lazy — but taking off on a temporary adventure or foreign travel stint or short-term offbeat journalism experience after you graduate. You’ll only be behind if you allow yourself to feel that way. Success in our industry is a bit like attaining new levels of achievement in the addictive mobile app Trivia Crack. (Your level may keep going up, but the game itself remains the same.) No need to jump *immediately* onto the industry assembly line. You have the rest of your life for that. Take advantage of being young, healthy, free of most responsibilities, OK with living on the cheap and mature enough to be on your own far from home. Learning about the world, giving back, simply exploring for a bit (sans deadline) will make you a more interesting person and most likely a more informed journalist down the road.

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