Sports Journalism Institute

Helping women and minorities get into newsrooms since 1993

Wilbon’s advice: Work harder

When Michael Wilbon was an intern at the Washington Post in 1979 and 1980, he was afraid to leave the office before his editors did. Why? He wanted it to be clear that he was there to work, and ready to put in whatever hours were needed.

Wilbon, co-host of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption, yearned to improve as a young writer and now, he wants this generation of young writers to do the same. As Wilbon spoke to the Sports Journalism Institute’s 26th class, he emphasized the importance of listening, paying attention and hard work (“work your butts off,” he advised). He cautioned against using too many stats in game stories, telling us we should focus on telling stories.

I agree that young writers must work to avoid distractions and simply tell stories. But that’s hard to do in an era when people can’t put down their phones. Wilbon spoke to this notion, saying how some people struggle to have conversations because technology has taken over society. I see the truth in what he’s saying because sometimes I catch myself not focusing on what I need to accomplish, and when that happens I correct it by reducing my social media use.

Wilbon’s advice, like that from other speakers at boot camp, helped me refocus. He’s serious about the young generation being more ambitious and after listening to him, I agree. My big takeaway: We need to work harder than ever.

–Cameron Fields