7 graduation speeches that will renew your faith in journalism

As a recent college graduate, I can attest that it’s been a busy — albeit exciting — couple of months. And some journalists and media executives have been getting in on the action.

Several prominent national journalists, editors and media executives, including Marty Baron of The Washington Post and Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times Magazine, have addressed the newest batch of college graduates over the past few weeks. While the speeches vary in tone and subject, they all share a reverence for facts and responsible storytelling.

Here are a seven of the most notable and inspiring 2017 graduation speeches.


Marty Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post

Baron delivered the commencement address at George Mason University on May 20. He is the former editor of The Boston Globe and has led several Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting teams. During his speech, Baron talked about the necessity of facts and the role of the free press in the American political system.

Self-governance does not end at the ballot box. It is an obligation that persists every day. Speaking up is no threat. Suppression of speech is the threat. Silence is the threat.

Read the whole speech here.


Ernie Johnson Jr., sportscaster for Turner Sports and CBS Sports

Johnson delivered the commencement address at the University of Georgia on May 5. He is the main voice of Major League Baseball on TBS and hosts “Inside the NBA” for TNT. During his speech, Johnson talked about the importance of embracing the unscripted parts of life and being kind to others.

We’re all neighbors on this planet. It’s about me lifting you up. It’s about you looking at the person next to you and lifting them up. You can speak up for the person who has no voice. You can uplift the downtrodden.



Nate Silver, editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight

Silver delivered the commencement address at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies on May 19. He is a renowned statistician and has been named one of the world’s most influential people by Time. During his speech, Silver talked about politics and the election of Donald Trump, as well as the importance of using evidence to make judgments.

You’d be surprised at how easy it is, on a planet of 7.5 billion people, to become one the world’s foremost experts on a topic if you really bear down and study it. Go deeper into understanding a problem than you ever thought possible, go local and geek out.

Nikole Hannah-Jones, investigative reporter at The New York Times magazine

Hannah-Jones delivered the commencement address at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Media and Journalism on May 13. Her reporting focuses on civil rights issues in the U.S., such as school segregation in Ferguson, Mo. During her speech, Hannah-Jones talked about using journalism to create social change, as well as treating everyone with dignity.

Never lose a sense of outrage of the injustices that surround us. This work should be, above all, our mission. We may not always see our work leading to change, but we should never, ever stop trying.


Gregory Gerard Coleman, president of BuzzFeed

Coleman delivered the commencement address at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business on May 20. He is the former president of Criteo and HuffPost and has expertise in digital sales and advertising. During his speech, Coleman talked about the importance of having courage and conviction in life.

In work and in life there are going to be times you’ll believe in something that’s unpopular, and you’re going to be called on to defend that choice. Too many times, people look and turn around to see what others think first and then make their choice based on that.



Anne Thompson, chief environmental affairs correspondent at NBC News

Thompson delivered the commencement address at Stonehill College on May 21. Thompson has led national coverage of major events in the U.S., such as Hurricane Katrina and the Martha Stewart trial. During her speech, she talked about the importance of finding the truth and the science behind climate change.

The pragmatism of the truth is what allows us to dream. When anchored in reality, we're free to let our spirits soar to the outer limit of our imaginations.

Read the whole speech here.


Margie Mason, Asia medical and regional writer for The Associated Press

Mason delivered the commencement address at the West Virginia University Reed College of Media on May 12. Mason was part of a team of four female AP reporters who exposed a slave island in Indonesia — work for which they won more than 30 awards, including a Pulitzer Prize. During her speech, Mason discussed threats to journalists and press freedom and the importance of reporting on injustices.

Seek out those who don’t think like you, or speak like you, or worship like you. It will make your life so much richer.

Correction: A previous version of this story said Nikole Hannah-Jones worked at New York magazine. She works at The New York Times Magazine.


Related News

Email IconGroup 3Facebook IconLinkedIn IconsearchGroupTwitter IconGroup 2YouTube Icon