Jon Cerio G'17

August 31, 2018

“What makes the BDJ master’s program special is its immersive and intensive qualities. The classmates you work alongside, struggle and commiserate with, and celebrate your triumphs with—they become your second family.”

Jon Cerio G'17
Jon Cerio G'17

Jon Cerio earned both a master’s in television, radio, and film in 2008 and a master’s in broadcast and digital journalism in 2017. He is the current sports reporter/anchor for WENY-TV in Horseheads/Elmira, New York.

How did you obtain your current position, and what positions did you hold before it?

I’ve always wanted to do sports reporting. When I started college at Onondaga Community College, I was drawn to the production aspect of the business and pursued that for several years. I actually earned my first master’s degree from Newhouse in 2008 studying television, radio and film. That led me on a journey between Syracuse and Los Angeles, working in a multitude of roles, including production assistant, editor, camera operator, producer, and director. I had the chance to work with live television for shows like "American Idol," "Dancing with the Stars," "X Factor," "The Price is Right," "The Talk," and "Hot in Cleveland." I also worked at CNY Central in Syracuse as an editor, and more recently as a master control operator. It was during that recent tenure that I was reminded of my desire to still do sports reporting. I left that job and knew just the place to go to pursue that dream. Heading back to Newhouse to study broadcast and digital journalism was one of the best choices I’ve made. Fast forward to now and I’m using the knowledge and experience I’ve built up through both Newhouse degrees to succeed at my current role.

What are your job responsibilities? 

I am responsible for producing the sports block for either the 6 p.m. or the 11 p.m. show during the week. On Saturdays, I produce a sports block for Sunday mornings. I go to games to shoot the action, come back and edit the highlights, and write the scripts and then present it on air. I also interview coaches and players, preview future events, as well as cover special events in the area. I am also responsible for searching for content pertinent to the community.

How do you feel Newhouse prepared you for your current job?

Newhouse doubly prepared me for what I’m doing now. I’ve been truly blessed to be a part of such a great school on two separate occasions. The professors at Newhouse are second to none. They care about your success, and they have the experience and ability to help guide you on your journey. There were many long nights during the program, but those long hours help ready you for your future role. Had I not gone back to graduate school at Newhouse this second time, I would not be doing what I truly love to do. I see many possibilities for my career trajectory, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing where my journey takes me. Those possibilities would not be there without Newhouse.

Did Newhouse open your eyes to new professions you may have not considered when applying? 

Newhouse did help me realize the grander scale of the industry. Coming into my studies, I was narrowly focused on what I wanted and gave myself limited options for where I would be willing to work. I learned in my time there to be more open to opportunities that I may have not originally considered. Though I came in wanting to cover sports, had I not pursued the news route as well, I may have not been able to get the job I currently hold. My time in the Washington capstone made me a better storyteller in many ways. My experience there reporting for WFXR in Roanoke, Virginia opened the door for multiple interviews with news stations across the country. One of those positions I applied for was a multimedia journalism job at a station in Horseheads, NY called WENY. I was the runner up for that job. A few months later, I received a call from that very station. They remembered me from the interview, and were impressed with my sports reel. At the time, they didn’t have a sports opening at the station. Had I not been willing to pursue the news route, I don’t think I would have had the opportunity to work as a sports reporter right out of school. It’s important to pursue all avenues when you start out—it may actually end up getting you right where you wanted to be in the first place.

What was unique about your graduate program? 

What makes the broadcast and digital journalism master's program special is its immersive and intensive qualities. This isn’t a program that you do on the side while you work your regular job. There isn’t really time for any of that. The classmates you work alongside, struggle and commiserate with, celebrate your triumphs with—they become your second family. You spend your time with them, on and off the clock. They’re there to support you during the program, and long after you complete it. The broadcast and digital journalism program is built tough to make you tougher. That way, whatever role you tackle after graduation, you’ll be able to excel at. I’m already more prepared for my job than most that have been at the station for months and years. That’s what’s unique about Newhouse.

Describe your most valuable/significant experience at Newhouse. 

There are many experiences that I draw upon in my current role. I had the opportunity to cover the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in 2016, and do a live-to-tape show with two of my classmates in political reporting. I had the ability to go to the White House and interview the President’s director of media affairs on the White House lawn. I interviewed Virginia senators and congressmen on Capitol Hill, and turned the interviews into stories for the Virginia community. What other schools give you opportunities like that? And remember, I’m a sports guy. That says something that these are some of the opportunities that stand out to me the most. It’s also pretty incredible to interview Syracuse coaches like Jim Boeheim and Dino Babers. I was able to ask Mike Krzyzewski of Duke a question. I wasn’t treated like some student that didn’t know what he was talking about. I was one of the sports reporters. I was able to interview future NBA and NFL players from a top Division I institution. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it. It certainly prepared me for what I’m doing now. It actually makes my current role seem even easier.

What advice do you have for current or incoming students? Any classes or professors that you recommend? 

I recommend to future journalists, whether in sports or news, to recognize what makes you excited about your profession. What’s the real reason you decided to go to school for this? Don’t lose that, or be talked out of it. Is sports hard to get into? Absolutely. Professors aren’t lying to you when they say that you have a much better chance of getting into news. I would say at least 9 times out of 10, you’re going to have to do news before you ever get to do sports. I didn’t ignore my professors. The reason I have a sports job is because I pursued news jobs first. Be professional with these potential employers. If they select someone else, thank them anyway.  Follow up with them. If I wrote off my current employer when they didn’t select me for a news job, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity I have now. Things have a way of working out the way they should. I knew I was qualified and capable of doing the multimedia journalism jobs I applied for, but I didn’t get them, and I’m glad I didn’t. Don’t be discouraged by a “no,” or multiple “nos”. You’re going to find the right place for you, just give it time. And don’t lose sight of what you want in your career. There’s a multitude of ways to get there, so be open to the possibilities.