Commencement Wisdom: 'Pause,' Push the 'Off' Button
What advice did today's journalists and mass media leaders give to tomorrow's new media innovators and consumers? Here are excerpts of some of the commencement addresses given to the class of 2012.
Ted Koppel, broadcast journalist, University of Massachusetts, May 11, 2012:
"At this critical juncture in your lives … let me implore you to want more: More substance, more real information about important issues; more fairness; more objectivity; more tolerance for views that differ from your own. More time to reflect and consider. And above all, a greater understanding that these extraordinary instruments of communication are still just that — nothing more than that — merely tools. Like the paint brush, the quill pen, the typewriter, they depend entirely on those who use them. You have a truly magical array of media at your disposal. Use them well."
Maria Shriver, author and journalist, University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Communication, May 11, 2012:
"Before you go out and press that fast-forward button, I'm hoping — I'm praying — that you'll have the courage to first press the pause button. … I'm asking you to learn how to pause, because I believe the state of our communication is out of control. And you? I believe you have the incredible opportunity to fix it. You have the power, each and every one of you, to change the way we as a nation speak to one another. I truly believe you can change our national discourse for the better. You have the chance to change the way we talk to one another, what we read on the Web and newspapers and magazines, what we see on TV, what we hear on the radio. You can help us change the channel."
Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York and media executive, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, May 13, 2012:
"The technology revolution that is reshaping our understanding of the world, and the freedom that you enjoy to pursue your dreams, are complementary. They reinforce each other. The more we learn, the freer we will be. And the freer we are, the more we will learn. … The more light we shed on the nature of the world, the more we advance knowledge in science and technology, the more liberty we will spread. In fact, I would argue that the technological revolution that is now underway will not only be our most powerful weapon in the fight against poverty and disease, it will be our most powerful weapon in the fight against repression and intolerance. Because where there is light, liberty grows. And where there is liberty, light flows."
Dom Sagolla, Twitter co-founder, Becker College, May 14, 2012:
"Embrace constraints. Many people feel that social or political constraints are an excuse to fail, but I find them to be freeing. You know, you look at Twitter with 140 characters to get your message across as a great example. Some of the best small companies thrive because their constraints inspire creativity."
Eric Schmidt, Google executive chairman, Boston University, May 20, 2012:
"I believe fully in the power of technology to change the world for the better. … But you can't let technology rule you. Remember to take at least one hour a day and turn that thing off. Do the math, 1/24th. Go dark. Shut it down. Learn where the "off" button is. Take your eyes off the screen, and look into the eyes of the person you love. Have a conversation — a real conversation — with the friends who make you think, with the family who makes you laugh. Don't just push a button saying I "Like" something. Actually tell them. What a concept! … Life is not lived in the glow of a monitor. Life is not a series of status updates. Life is not about your friend count — it's about the friends you can count on."