Jerald Raymond Pierce graduated from Newhouse’s Goldring Arts Journalism program in 2018. While at Newhouse, he worked as a marketing department intern at Syracuse Stage and an editorial intern at American Theatre magazine. Pierce currently works as associate editor for American Theatreand as a freelance theatre critic for the Chicago Tribune.
“Newhouse gave me the groundwork in what it means to be a journalist.”Jerald Raymond Pierce, G’18
How did you obtain your current position?
I was an intern for American Theatre while at Newhouse and when Diep Tran (another Goldring alum) left her position with the magazine, I jumped at the chance to join the team full-time. Before that, I was freelancing, mostly writing about television, plus an occasional feature for American Theatre.
What’s an average day like for you on the job?
An average day typically involves bouncing between tracking press releases as they come in for any newsworthy items for the magazine’s website, writing or interviewing for any feature stories I have in the works, and copy editing, fact checking, and proofing articles for the print magazine.
How do you feel Newhouse prepared you for your current job?
Well, I came into Newhouse with absolutely no journalism in my background, I was just a theatre person who enjoyed writing reviews for fun who took a leap at going to school for it. Newhouse gave me the groundwork in what it means to be a journalist. Newhouse gave structure to my interest in writing. Then, working with TheNewsHouse allowed me to take a stab at being an editor both in terms of overseeing copy, but also working with a variety of journalists to cover news and events. Most importantly though, the program introduced me to so many fantastic editors and journalists working in the field, both alums and friends of the program, who have helped me get where I am today.
Did Newhouse open your eyes to new professions or aspect of your field you may have not considered when applying?
When I started at Newhouse, I had my mind pretty set on wanting to be a theatre critic. It wasn’t until I was going through Newhouse that I realized I enjoyed the other parts of journalism—the interviews, the research, the actual reporting—in addition to spouting my opinions for hundreds of words on end.
What unique features of your graduate program drew you to it in the first place?
The Goldring program was appealing both because it was only one year, and it was the only journalism program around that allowed me to focus on writing about theatre and the arts specifically. Since I was 27 and had been working a steady job for three years before starting Newhouse, I was looking for a program that could give me the skills and education (especially the basics) I needed while not keeping me out of the workforce too long. Not to mention, it’s really hard to say no to a program that takes you to places like the Toronto International Film Festival and Spoleto Festival USA down in Charleston, S.C.
What are some obstacles or misconceptions about your field that students ought to be aware of?
The obstacles of writing about the arts have been covered ad nauseum of late. Publications, in efforts to cut down on costs, have been eliminating or severely reducing their arts coverage and arts staffs. I would say that the misconception is that this all means there are absolutely no jobs to be had. The reality is, they’re difficult to find, but they’re out there. It goes back to the old saying that luck is when opportunity meets preparation. Newhouse and the Goldring program provided the preparation and, considering all of the chances to meet and talk to people in my field of interest, they also provided the opportunity. The Goldring program gave me a chance to be a little lucky.
What moments in your career have been most exciting or defining thus far?
This is tough, since it still feels like I’m so early on. The two that spring to mind are seeing the announcement go out on Twitter that I was joining American Theatre – I knew I was, but seeing it on Twitter made it somehow feel even more official – and having two of my reviews on the front page of the Chicago Tribune’s Thanksgiving Day Arts & Entertainment section. Both were just really cool moments of feeling like I’m actually doing this for real.
What advice do you have for current or incoming students?
I would just say to not be afraid – or too ingrained in your vision for your time at Newhouse – to try new things, skills or classes. For every class I loved, there was another I wish I had also been able to take.