From entry-level to unexpected dream job
By Desi Botica
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Bruce Dold didn’t know where he would end up after college, but he knew it was going to be with a journalism degree from Northwestern University. As a New Jersey native, he chose Northwestern partly because it had a good reputation for its journalism program and partly because it was close to Wrigley Field.
After graduating, he applied for an entry-level position with the Chicago Tribune’s suburban section and has been moving up the ranks since. In his time at the Tribune, he covered suburban news, politics and the Illinois legislature before being promoted to the editorial board. He is now the editor of the Editorial Page.
When asked in a phone interview about his professional goals when he began working at the Chicago Tribune, Dold said he always thought that he’d live his life solely as a reporter. That all changed when a spot on the editorial board opened up at the Tribune in 1990.
“You can’t, as a reporter, say what your opinion is, and I thought I had pretty strong opinions on things,” he said, which was why he decided to make the change and apply for the editorial board. He became the editor of the editorial page 10 years later in 2000, where he’s been since.
Dold stressed the importance of passion. It’s an important quality when joining the journalism field. Journalists have to love what they do. You never know who will walk through the doors or what type of people you’ll deal with in the field. Dold has experienced all types of people walking through his door, including Bono and Jimmy Carter.
So what’s the best part of being the editor of the editorial page? “Making an impact. It’s having the impact that we were able to have on the child welfare system in Illinois,” Dold says.
Not only did he enjoy working the long hours on such a necessary cause, but also in 1994 he won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing for a series of editorials about the Illinois child welfare system. According to Dold, readers really do care about what the editorial page has to say. They want to see what others think and learn something from the research these professionals put into their stories.
Along with the child welfare system, the editorial writers and editors also had a huge impact on Illinois’ criminal justice system and the elimination of the death penalty in their state. These journalists aren’t just writing about what they believe, but also are affecting the public with every word they write, Dold said.
Though he didn’t have any internships during his own college years, Dold said they are important now because the field is getting smaller by the minute. “I’ve personally hired quite a few of our interns since we’ve already had an idea of how hard they work, and what their work ethic is like,” he says.
His advice for those trying to gain their first job or internship is to use a resume to show what they can do, even though they may not have a vast amount of work experience in the field.
He also said that good letters of recommendation are greatly considered when looking at similar applicants. He spoke about the importance of social media in the business as well. Since the industry is changing rapidly, Dold said, “It’s important to adapt with the changes and understand that social media is more important than ever. It has a huge impact on stories and their immediacy. To be successful, you must be able to fully understand social media and use it to its full potential.”