Others have written better evaluations of Mitch Albom’s work, columns and books, but I have to admit the guy knows how to give a speech.
So, if it is custom with honors such as these, to close one’s remarks with what advice you’d give a young person coming up in our business today, I would start there. And I would add the following “be’s”:
Be ruthless with yourself, be compassionate with those you cover.
Be scared of praise, be brave about criticism.
Be aware that a microphone is a funny thing, it changes people. Be sensitive that “on the record” is a guideline, not a trap. Be mindful that a pen is a powerful thing – and a pen plus the internet can change a person’s life forever.
The image from the movie “Absence of Malice,” where a woman runs from lawn to lawn trying to pick up the newspapers before a damaging story can be read, should play in all our heads before we take somebody down.
Be a judge, but don’t be God. Be fast, but not rushed. Be humble enough to admit a mistake, and be able to sleep at night with what you’ve written.
Be in love with language, be respectful of its power and be in awe of its possibilities.
Be prepared. Read everything. Study other writers. Remember that, as the saying goes, a writer’s brain is like a magician’s hat. If you want to pull something out of it you have to put something into it first.
Be proud of the sports section – it’s as real as any section in the paper, and it’s the most read. No matter what the geeks from Metro say. (Added: This may be true but I’ve met some “geeks” in sports journalism too, Mitch.)
Be aware of your community, be proud of it, because you are a voice to it and for it. I am often asked why do you stay in Detroit, why don’t you go elsewhere? I always say why? Is the news more real elsewhere?
Be grateful for your seat.
Be funny now and then.
Be on time (that’s for the editors here).
And always, always, be mindful of who you are serving – not your ego, but your reader.