By Natalie Wood and Wiley Anderson
Once an aspiring editorial cartoonist and now ESPN Senior Vice President, Rob King, encouraged journalism students to think of their career path as a “journey” during his speech today in Farley Hall at Ole Miss New Media Day.
“Now, when I have this chance to come back and tell people ‘it’s gonna be cool,’ I do it every chance I can because I know when I go into a room that’s the one thing I know people are worried about,” King said. “And the ability to do that and give back, it’s like a gift.”
Senior Staff Writer for espn.com and ESPN the Magazine, Wright Thompson, introduced King as a dear friend, a great father and the creative mind the company needs to keep ESPN moving forward on all platforms.
“Nobody knows what the future of media is going to look like,” Thompson said. “But I feel like he might have as good of an idea as anyone.”
King began his speech by referencing recent, controversial events that have taken place on the Ole Miss campus as “mere pin pricks” in the grand scheme of things. He also reminded students that they are a central part of a very important American narrative and that these events provide a chance for them to change the world around them.
One point that King reiterated was for students to use journalism as a service opportunity in their future careers. He motivated listeners to gain as much knowledge about the business as possible and to focus on satisfying their audiences in the future.
Although King is remarkably successful now, he laughed while recalling the years that followed his graduation from college, which he referred to as “the awful in-between.” He went on to tell a comical anecdote about his first job in Danville, Ill. with the Commercial-News. After accidentally building the NCCA Basketball Tournament bracket wrong, as a graphic designer, the paper literally had to stop the presses to correct his mistake.
“And now I run SportsCenter,” King chuckled. “Use these first few years as a learning opportunity and ‘mentally unpack.’ Just because you don’t have your dream job right now, doesn’t mean that you can’t get it tomorrow. It’s going to work out, you just don’t know how yet.”
He closed by advising students to allow themselves to act their age and to look out the window and enjoy what they’re seeing along the route. King explained that ESPN gives its employees the permission “to wonder,” and that everyone in the room should do the same in order to grow a little more each day.
“Many of you are in that career chase,” King said. “Stop thinking about it like a career and start thinking about it like a journey because that will give you the chance to act your age. And you want to know something? ESPN is every bit as cool as you think it is.”