Alumnus Pincus-Roth pursues journalism at the Washington Post


Emily Yahr

Pincus-Roth poses on the roof of the Washington Post building.

By Brooke Hilliard, Richard Montgomery High School

This RM alumnus’ job includes attending popular movies and theater performances, traveling across the world, and visiting striking museum exhibits, all while writing for one of the largest newspapers in the US: The Washington Post.

A 1998 graduate of Richard Montgomery, Zachary Pincus-Roth first began exploring journalism in high school where he wrote for the RM Tide.  “I took a journalism class sophomore year and I worked on The Tide, where at various points in time I was a sports writer, sports editor, humor columnist, features editor, and editor-in-chief,” he said.

His humble beginnings at RM kick-started his impressive career in journalism and pop culture. After graduating from RM, Pincus-Roth continued building his skills and pursuing different opportunities at Princeton University, receiving a Bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a theater certificate.

Pincus-Roth decided to pursue a career in journalism because he always found himself thinking of article ideas that he wanted to pursue. After graduating from college, he interned at a theatre company but still found himself wanting to write articles. “At one point I cold-called the New York Times theater editor to pitch story ideas, and she must have been baffled, since that’s not the typical way in the door,” he said. He also is very interested in how works of entertainment are created and enjoys watching movies and theater. As a writer, he prefers to write nonfiction, likes to observe, and ask questions.

Later, he decided to seriously pursue journalism by scoping out internships in the area. “I also got an internship at Variety, wrote entertainment articles for them, and eventually got hired there.” At the same time however, he continued to pursue his passions for theater and entertainment. “Later I moved to L.A. and worked as a researcher and writers assistant for a TV show called ‘Lie to Me,’ since I thought I might want to switch into the entertainment business,” Pincus-Roth said.

“Lie to Me” was an American drama series about the character Dr. Cal Lightman, a man who helped law enforcement and the government find whether someone was lying. While working on the show, he freelanced for the New York Times and the LA Times, but eventually accepted a job at LA Weekly as the deputy editor over seeking arts and culture, writing for four years before joining the Washington Post. More recently, Pincus-Roth wrote a perspective article for The Post on the romantic comedy “Working Girl”, and compares it to other well-known romantic comedies

Pincus-Roth’s career in journalism has also allowed him to travel and learn about other countries and cultures. While working as L.A. Weekly’s arts and culture editor, Pincus-Roth got a grant to travel to India for a story. Pincus-Roth wrote a front-page story about India’s use of television as a force for justice. He even had the opportunity to interview Bollywood star Aamir Khan, who hosts a talk show that addresses the societal issues going on in India.

20 years later, he is now the pop culture editor for the Washington Post. He edits articles about movies, music, TV, celebrity culture, internet culture, and other arts-related topics. “I’ve always been a fan of entertainment, so I like talking and thinking about it—I especially enjoy trying to figure out why audiences love the entertainment that they love,” Pincus-Roth said.

Outside of journalism, Pincus-Roth enjoys exploring various sources of arts and entertainment. “I got to a lot of movies, theater performances, museum exhibits, and comedy shows,” he said. He also likes to taste unique foods and will travel far away for an unfamiliar cuisine that he is itching to try. He has even visited a few Rockville favorites, including La Limena and Shanghai Taste.

For students that want to pursue a career in journalism, Pincus-Roth recommends getting an internship. “Once you have an internship, work really hard so you can get noticed and hired at that publication or come away with writing samples you can use to get a job elsewhere or to send to an editor when asking if you can pitch freelance stories,” he said.

Although he works for one of the most well-known newspapers in the country, Pincus-Roth is still familiar with the misconceptions and scrutiny of journalism that even extend to the Washington Post. “Of course, some people don’t trust media outlets like mine, even though we are meticulous about our reporting and about making corrections if there are mistakes,” he said. He also believes that readers don’t understand the depth of the stories they read. “Sometimes a really deep, substantive story that I really like will get a lot of readers, but sometimes it won’t. And sometimes a story we whipped together quickly that is not our deepest, most nuanced work will get a ton of readers, because it’s about a topic that people are Googling that day,” Pincus-Roth said.

This story was originally published on The Tide on January 11, 2019.