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CBS analyst Spencer Tillman speaks at Overby

Quentin Winstine / The Daily Mississippian

Spencer Tillman ran for many touchdowns during his All-American, Super Bowl-winning career at Oklahoma and during his nine seasons in the National Football League. Now, he spends his days on CBS alongside sports figures like Tim Brando.

Tillman, a former NFL football player and current CBS sports analyst, spoke at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics Friday. Tillman addressed a wide variety of topics, including technology in today’s media world.

He graduated in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, then received second bachelor’s degree in communications in 1988, both from the University of Oklahoma.

Tillman discussed how we in the United States are not just competing within our borders anymore.

“In short, Thomas Freeman says that you and I don’t necessarily compete against 365 million people here in the United States, give or take,” Tillman said. “Our competition is global.”

He went on to say that information technology is the driving force behind this change in competition.

Tillman said he began to see technology change in 1986 when he was in Houston, Texas. He hired a man to teach him the format Pro Tools, which is a widely-accepted format that production houses use for recording music. By having this technology, Tillman said he could accept jobs that he couldn’t do a few years ago because it cut down on his editing time so drastically. He was able to get much more done in the time he was given.

Tillman went on to say that recently we have seen a “quantum leap” in the digital media world.

“If I had to pinpoint the inflection point for you guys, it would probably have to be around 2008 when Barack Obama announced his vice presidential candidate running for office – it was Joe Biden – he did it via Twitter,” Tillman said.

That point was when Twitter and tweeting became normal for everyone because it was pushed into the limelight by Obama making such a huge announcement like that on the website. Information is now made available almost instantaneously.

One problem that has risen out of this, however, is that people are not checking their sources when they find information. They want to be first, so accuracy is not their first priority. 

Tillman said because of the new instant access to information, we have to be responsible in how we spread our information. 

An audience member asked a question about the presence of women in the world of sports journalism and if Tillman thought there was still a “glass ceiling.

“There are biases within that space, and there are things that you will have to deal with that are unique,” Tillman said. “Is there a glass ceiling of sorts? It’s a paradox. Yes, on the one hand there is, but because there is, there are some people who are conscientiousness who don’t want to be perceived as having a ceiling, and they will engage in a form of affirmative action and will hire for that specific purpose. And that’s the unvarnished truth. Most people will not tell you that if they work in a newsroom.”

Tillman went on to say that no matter what you do, you should stick to your core values because they will give you long-term satisfaction instead of the temporary satisfaction you get when you do not.

Tillman said his career as an athlete helped him tremendously, and he uses the skill sets he gained from his athletics every day. In football there is daily feedback, but in the workplace an individual may not get feedback from his or her supervisors for months at a time. He credits the self-reevaluation and self-improvement that makes him a better journalist to his athletic career.

Tillman also had advice for people looking for jobs.

“What you’ve got to do is, number one, get someplace and do whatever it is that you want to do,” he said. ”I don’t care if two people see you or ten thousand or ten million. Get somewhere, and do what it is that you want to do and be passionate about what you’re doing. That passion has to already be pre-determined. You can’t force passion. But I can tell you this, you can’t succeed without it.”