Event Story: Diane Roberts

Award-winning author and journalist Diane Roberts talked to Piedmont mass communications students on Thursday, March 29, about football, hate mail and her motivation.

Roberts has written four books, including “Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America,” and has also written for several newspapers across the United States. Her writing experience, coupled with the work she has done for BBC radio, puts together a unique résumé. Even though Roberts has already accomplished so much she is always looking for another task to complete.

“No matter what you accomplish, there is a ‘what next?’,” Roberts said. “When I first published a book, I would lie on the sofa and think ‘I’ve done it!’, and that feeling lasted for a little bit, but you’re always thinking ‘what next?’”

Fellow students at the lecture were impressed by the internal drive and motivation that Diane Roberts has.

“I loved what Diane Roberts said about accomplishing something then thinking, ‘what next?’,” Senior mass communications major Leslie Pritchett said. “For someone that is so accomplished to still have that kind of motivation, that’s special.”

As any journalist knows, the more stories you write, the more naysayers and critics you will have. Everything you write will not be well-received by the entire audience. Roberts has covered several stories over the years, some of the most interesting being about white supremacist movements and rallies, but has not always received the best feedback from readers.

“I like hate mail. It makes me feel like I’m doing my job,” Roberts said. “Not the hate mail that says, ‘it was 10 not 20, her name is Laura not Margaret,’ that’s not the hate mail you like. I like the hate mail that says, ‘you’re a bad person, and you hate America.’ That doesn’t speak well to my character, but I like it.”

Despite the disdain that Roberts has received over the years, she remains a very dedicated journalist.

“I could never quit journalism. I could try to not do as much, but I can’t stop,” Roberts said. “That’s the thing about journalism. Once you get a story in your head, you just have to do it.”

It was clear that Roberts is very passionate about her work. Whether it is writing a 500-page book, or writing a short column for the St. Petersburg Times, Roberts fully devotes herself to what she is doing.

“It was really awesome to hear someone like Diane Roberts talk about all the places she has been and things she has done,” Senior mass communications major Durden Smith said. “She has so much passion for her work, and that really shows when you look at all of her accomplishments.”

While Roberts touched on several topics, but had a very interesting take on diversifying oneself. She noted that a person should have several different personas, not just one.

“I think one of the best things to do is confuse people. Everybody is looking for authenticity, and I’m not sure authenticity is quite real because everyone has various selves, nobody is just one thing,” Roberts said. “Writers really have different selves. You try to express one of your selves, but you don’t have to be one thing all the time. You will bore yourself and everybody else if you stick to one thing.”

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