Don’t Do Journalism For The Money, My Grandfather Told Me. But Do It.

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In January 1984, my grandfather’s health was failing, when I got offered a summer reporting internship at the Virginian Pilot in Norfolk Virginia. He could barely write, but managed to send this:


This was surprising, because earlier he’d encouraged me to pursue journalism in college (he loved newspapers):

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Papa was a well educated lawyer who deeply respected anything to do with civics, community, and the democratic process… like newspapers. But he was also a first generation immigrant who wanted his grandson to live the American dream, and journalism didn’t seem like the path. So he occasionally suggested I also consider professions like law or medicine.

Taking that summer newspaper job in 1984 was the best career decision I ever made.  It opened my eyes to the thrill and journalistic adventure of doing whatever it takes to find the truth… taking initiative, asking the right questions, working with tough editors on deadline etc. I was running on adrenaline the whole time. And the $235 a week after tax was actually a lot of money for a kid sharing a dumpy house with roommates in Virginia Beach.

The experience led directly to my career in media and technology, which Papa obviously couldn’t have imagined. Today, I would tell any college kid today to go into journalism, even if you have to volunteer. Searching for the truth and hustling for scoops is one of the most satisfying and entrepreneurial things you can do in this world. It is its own reward, and can also lead you to many great places.

Thanks papa for having cared about me so much – it all worked out.

Here’s some of my clips from that summer:

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