In this episode of finding career zen, WTVY Multimedia Journalist Caroline Gerhart joins Pete Newsome to share the story of how she turned career dreams into reality.
What does it take to get started? It begins with a goal and a vision for success.
Gaining experience takes significant effort and determination. While in college, Caroline worked exremely hard in pursuit of her goals. She joined clubs on campus and obtained internships while pursuing a double major that included a full-time schedule in the dance program. She had big expectations, and the road to success wasn’t easy.
Caroline openly discusses her hurdles of overcoming imposter syndrome, fear of the unknown, and being a woman in a male-dominated industry. How did she overcome those challenges? Tune in to this episode to find out!
What does it takes to pursue a career in journalism
- Find a school and major that fits your needs. Becoming a journalist begins with your education. Choose a college While journalism is the obvious choice, majors like English or Communications are also great options.
- Take advantage of your school’s resources and get involved. Many universities have student-run newspapers and television news productions.
- Get experience. Success doesn’t come quickly or easily. Everyone came from somewhere. Put in the time and get yourself out there.
- To those dealing with imposter syndrome, fake it till you make it. Let your work speak for itself, and your confidence will ultimately shine through.
Advice for young adults searching for their purpose
- Take every opportunity that is given to you. The opportunities are endless. It’s impossible to know what you like until you actually try it.
- Put yourself out there and step out of your comfort zone. The thing you’re meant to do may be something you’ve never even thought of.
- Find the confidence to try new things. Uncertainty is scary. While it’s much easier said than done, getting past your fear of failure is crucial and necessary to succeed.
Pete Newsome 00:08
You’re listening to the Finding Career Zen Podcast. I’m your host Pete Newsome and my guest today is Caroline Gerhart. Caroline is a multimedia journalist with WTVY in Dothan, Alabama. And I’m really happy to have her on today because she’s someone I’ve wanted to interview for a long time.
Pete Newsome 00:24
I’ve known Caroline through her parents for a number of years, and so this is sort of a unique opportunity. Caroline, how are you today?
Caroline Gerhart 00:31
I’m doing good. How are you?
Pete Newsome 00:32
I am doing great. Thank you so much for taking the time. And I know it’s your day off. So of all things, you could be out doing anything fun, but here you are speaking with me about pursuing a career in journalism.
Caroline Gerhart 00:42
It’s my pleasure. I’ve been excited about this for a while. So I’m ready.
Pete Newsome 00:46
Well, it’s wonderful to connect. First, let’s start at the beginning. Caroline, you’re a multimedia journalist. What does that mean?
Caroline Gerhart 00:54
So multimedia journalist is just a fancy word for a reporter, right? I mean, things have changed over time. And we call it a one-man band now. So when I wake up in the morning, I pitch stories, go out, and with my camera, tripod, audio equipment, everything, I do all the footage, I do all the interviews, I tape all that back, I edit it all.
Caroline Gerhart 01:19
And then I also write web stories for it. So I’ve pretty much written and produced everything that goes into any story I have a part in. So they call it multimedia journalist to give us a little more credit than just reporter.
Pete Newsome 01:34
I think that’s an appropriate phrase, given that you have to do all of that stuff. I mean, I think most people probably don’t realize that when they see a reporter on TV, they’re doing all of those things behind the scenes.
Pete Newsome 01:45
So unless you happen to be out somewhere, you see someone setting up their own camera, but even then, you don’t realize all the work that goes in ahead of time. So you really are multimedia. You’re doing it all.
Caroline Gerhart 01:57
And it’s funny, too, you know, in southern Alabama, very, you know, southern hospitality kind of culture, lots of southern gentlemen. I always have, you know, men who I’m interviewing, wanting to carry my camera equipment and stuff for me trying to help me out.
Caroline Gerhart 02:10
And of course, I’m like, please don’t touch my equipment. You know, people are really sweet and trying to help us out. But it is a lot when you pack it all into one day.
Pete Newsome 02:18
Well, let’s go. Let’s talk about the fact that you’re young and doing this too. And that is something that I want to explore, and one of the reasons I wanted to have you on is that you just graduated from Troy. So let’s go backward to go forwards.
Pete Newsome 02:35
You’re a recent graduate of Troy University. Talk a little bit about how you ended up at Troy in the first place, because you’re an Orlando girl, which is how I know, your family, of course, and know you. How did you start pursuing a career in journalism?
Caroline Gerhart 02:48
Yeah, so I, um, I was actually, I mean, I still am a dancer, but I grew up dancing competitively from age three. And dance has always been a passion of mine. And I knew I wanted to explore it in college. I was originally planning to go to a school in Oklahoma for that.
Caroline Gerhart 03:05
But I thought about it. And I said, you know, I want to pursue journalism. It’s always been I’ve kind of always had these two passions of wanting to be on camera and writing and then dance. And the only school one of the only schools in the country that would let me double major and do both of those specific majors was Troy University here in Alabama.
Caroline Gerhart 03:25
And I visited the school and fell in love with it. Everybody was kind of like we’ve never heard of Troy, what is this place, but it was the perfect place for me. I just adored it there. And so for four years, I pursued I took dance classes, ballet and contemporary, four days a week. And then, when I wasn’t in the studio rehearsing for shows and dancing, I was in journalism classes.
Caroline Gerhart 03:49
And I was a part of our student-run broadcast news program, which is called Trojan Vision. I got to report for them and anchor for them. So I packed a lot into four years. But yeah, I just interned with WTVY before I was offered my full-time position this past summer. As soon as I graduated in July, they decided they would keep me so I am like three months on the job.
Pete Newsome 04:14
So this is a lot. I mean, you blew through that explanation as if it’s no big deal. But I want to explore it a little further. Because it’s a really big deal. You were in a sorority in college, and you went dancing, which is its own full-time job by any rational definition, right?
Pete Newsome 04:34
And you had super high expectations of you for that and time commitment. And then, somehow along the way, you were able to be a reporter in college and have an internship that ultimately led to the job. So talk about the dance commitment for a minute. This is something you’ve done, you set it since you were three years old, what was a week or a day like on average while you were in school?
Caroline Gerhart 05:01
Yeah, like I mentioned, we would take ballet for an hour and a half and then contemporary for an hour and a half, Monday through Thursday. And during the fall semester, we would prep for our fall dance show. And spring for our spring dance show.
Caroline Gerhart 05:15
Fall was a student-choreographed production. So I choreographed my junior and senior year and also being in pieces. So a typical week, I would go to class in the morning for three hours. More like four actually, because we would have an hour and a half break, or half an hour break, excuse me.
Caroline Gerhart 05:37
I would go to my journalism classes for two to three hours, depending on what day it was, run home and eat something, and then either be back in the studio for rehearsals or be in the theater for dress rehearsals. Or if it was a day that I didn’t have studio rehearsals or anything like that. As you mentioned, I was in a sorority.
Caroline Gerhart 05:57
And so I would like to, you know, get involved in different things my sorority was doing and go to events with my friends and stuff. So there was never a dull moment, that’s for sure. It was a huge time commitment. It’s not for everybody.
Caroline Gerhart 06:10
I loved it because I loved what I was doing and the people I was doing it with, that really made all the difference for me. But it was a great way to stay in shape. I’ll tell you that.
Pete Newsome 06:23
Not getting a lot of sleep along the way, I would guess. So you said it’s not for everyone. And I think that’s correct. But I think everyone would want to have that sort of passion that they’re able to pursue. And in your case more than one thing, which is rare.
Pete Newsome 06:42
I’m sure you realize that most young people and college students don’t have that thing yet that they found that they’re willing to commit to and do not because they have to but because they want to. And that’s a real gift in all of this.
Pete Newsome 06:59
So let’s now go back even further because I want to understand where that came from? When did you first you said you started dancing at three? But as you were in high school, consider what was what you were going to do next. How soon do you remember that you said this is really what I want to do, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to pursue it?
Caroline Gerhart 07:22
I remember I went to St. Mary Magdalene in Orlando K through 8th, I remember 8th grade sitting in our computer lab talking about careers. It’s just it was just the topic of our discussion that day. And I started looking up dance as a major in college because, up until that point, I didn’t really know that that was a possibility.
Caroline Gerhart 07:45
And I found that school in Oklahoma that I mentioned earlier, and I was like, oh, that’s where I’m gonna go to college. I’m gonna be a dancer. That was a really, I wish it was like a little bit more, you know, exciting than that. But it really, you know, I think it’s something that performers only really understand the feeling that you get when you’re on stage.
Caroline Gerhart 08:05
It’s indescribable. And once I experienced it, at three years old, I was like, This is it for me, you know. But it’s interesting because I get that feeling when I’m on air too. I mean, it’s that same kind of, you know, butterflies anxiously. But then, when you get into it, it’s just so rewarding.
Caroline Gerhart 08:26
But yeah, that really, like eighth grade was when I was like, This is what I want to do in college and then for my career. And then as I started to teach dance as well to kids, and you know, other people in my studio that really transformed it for me, too, because I love teaching and choreographing as well.
Pete Newsome 08:44
And you’ve never wavered from that. Was there ever a time along the way when you thought, oh, maybe I’m getting burned out, maybe I’ll do something different.
Caroline Gerhart 08:52
In my sophomore and junior year of college, I got really sick one of my semesters of sophomore year, I actually had to come home for a little while, get better, and then go back. And at that point, I was like, should I really keep doing this? Like, my body is rejecting it.
Caroline Gerhart 09:09
I’m putting a lot on myself. And then I got back, and I was like, I missed it all so much. When I had to take a step back, I was like, no, this is what I meant to do.
Pete Newsome 09:19
You know, you can’t really force those things. I don’t think that is right. You know, it’s either you have it, or you don’t. And I try to tell young people, including my own children, that find that thing that you think about when you wake up in the morning that you go to bed thinking about what you would do under any circumstances if you didn’t have to.
Pete Newsome 09:41
But I’ve also realized that so much easier said than done. So when I said a few minutes ago, it’s a gift I really do look at it that way as I’ve explored this topic a whole lot more with zengig and doing the podcast of trying to understand how to give the best advice to others of how you can find you what we call career zen but that thing that you really would do because you want to.
Pete Newsome 10:05
Do you have any sense of where that comes from? I know your dad pretty well, who is slightly competitive, we’ll say, right? We were friends for a number of years. And we work together now.
Pete Newsome 10:19
And he played two sports in college, which in and of itself is extremely rare. Needless to say, do you think and I don’t know, your mom was well, but do you think it came from them? Or? Or just do you think it was just who you are as an individual?
Caroline Gerhart 10:34
It’s funny when my parents talk about like, you know, this kind of crazy path that I chose, they’re like, we don’t know where she came from, which for my dad is ironic because he played two sports in college and everything. So like, you know, that doesn’t really add up.
Pete Newsome 10:48
But we think we may have an idea of where it came from.
Caroline Gerhart 10:52
Right. But I mean, I think part of it really was just a part of who I am, you know, I was blessed with two parents who always just said, do your best, you know, it wasn’t you have to get straight A’s every single year from 3 to 18. They said, Do you want do you still want to dance? Is this still what you want to do? Even in college, every year, they asked me, Do you still want to do this double major? Is it what you want to do?
Caroline Gerhart 11:16
You know, and so I think, who I am inherently combined with, you know, that positive reinforcement, and that idea that it is up to me, and it’s my choice really was like, the perfect balance to get me to where I am today. Because I can only imagine that if it had gone another way. And there was this high expectation set for me that I might not have been, you know, as keen to reach it, I guess.
Caroline Gerhart 11:44
But I’ve always just been a real self, you know, motivated person, I was always the one freaking out at 10 years old that I didn’t study enough for a test or something like that, you know, so I think a lot of it is just inherently who I am. But it definitely has been a gift, you know, having these two passions that I love and that I knew I wanted to pursue, but it also has been a curse at times, just because it’s always what I knew I wanted to do.
Caroline Gerhart 12:12
Yeah, I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s a really good thing and an enviable thing because people spend their whole life searching for something that gets them excited, something that causes them to work hard. And that’s a meaningful thing to me because I think success can’t happen doesn’t happen by accident, it doesn’t happen by coincidence.
Caroline Gerhart 12:12
And so it felt like, oh, well, there are no other options, like, is this all I’m ever gonna do? Am I good enough to only do this, you know, am I able to do anything else? So I think it definitely is a double-edged sword at times, but I’m so grateful now being in the position that I am having, you know, a profession in this that I had those two things, you know.
Pete Newsome 13:04
And so you need to put your effort into it, you need to put time and energy into it. But to do that towards something that you’re not excited about is a terrible thought. And so it’s advice I give young people as often as possible. Sometimes I ask their parents to cover their ears when giving it, but that is to say, don’t go get a job.
Pete Newsome 13:27
That sounds like an awful thing to tell a young person: go find something and take as long as you need to define that spark. That’s it for you, whatever that means to you as an individual. But the missing piece is how right? How do you find that? So I think you’re right, and in large part, that it’s who you are.
Pete Newsome 13:49
Certainly, you have the right support structure and environment to set you up for success. But it had to come from you. Right. And it is all about you ultimately. So do you have any advice it’s okay if you don’t because I don’t on someone young, and trying to figure out what to do whether they’re in high school or getting out of school, who is lost? Do you have any thoughts on what you would recommend?
Caroline Gerhart 14:19
I would say take every opportunity that is given to you. Like I just feel like in primary education K through 8 in high school and secondary education right now, educators are finding all of these innovative ways to offer career paths to their students.
Caroline Gerhart 14:39
And I think that there’s just a multitude of opportunities available, and you’re not going to know unless you try. I’d like I didn’t start Trojan Vision in college until my junior year. And I might not have ended up pursuing this if I hadn’t, you know, really learned how to report and really learn how to sit at a news desk.
Caroline Gerhart 15:00
I decided to jump and take that opportunity. And that’s what led me here. So I think trying new things and getting out there and stepping outside of your comfort zone, you might not realize that, you know, the thing that you were meant to do is something that you never thought you would do before if that makes sense.
Pete Newsome 15:17
That makes complete sense. I’m glad you said it. Because it’s, I think it’s great advice. And it is easier said than done. You have to have the personality to do that. You have to have the confidence to do to try new things. Because that uncertainty is scary, right?
Pete Newsome 15:36
Fear of failure, fear of feeling awkward, embarrassed, or uncomfortable, you have to go through, you have to get on the other side of that somehow. And that’s, like I said, it’s much easier said than done. But it’s important, and it’s necessary to some degree.
Caroline Gerhart 15:53
Yeah, that fear of the unknown, I think with my generation, in particular, is really a big boundary that we have to get over, you know, I like to stay in my comfort zone. And it sometimes takes me a little extra push to get outside of it.
Caroline Gerhart 16:08
So I think especially with young people nowadays, it’s we like to, you know, be on our phones and stay in our little box and not go out of it. And, you know, you never know what will happen if you do take that step out.
Pete Newsome 16:21
So what do you think about that? I think about phones often. And I think that, you know, with a lot of techs is with a lot of technology, there’s so much good that’s come from it, but so much harm as well, and phones in particular. And I’m guilty of this too, I spend way too much time looking at mine, it’s always with me, but I’ve already done a lot of things I’ve already achieved a lot I’ve my world there’s more of it behind me probably, unfortunately, than there is a had to some degree.
Pete Newsome 17:00
And so I often think that if I had a phone, then I don’t remember what boredom feels like in constant entertainment. And I remember that I was bored in college, I remember that I was bored when I was broke and didn’t have the means to do much.
Pete Newsome 17:21
And I remembered that I didn’t want to feel that way. And so I had to go achieve I had to work and find a way to get past that. Now no one’s bored. No one, you never have to be bored. You have the Encyclopedia of the history of the world, at your fingertips, unlimited games, and unlimited exposure to whatever topic you want.
Pete Newsome 17:44
And so I worry that, you know, where do that motivation and drive come from? So what bothers you about phones? I mean, what bothers me is that I think it’s just, it’s taken away drive and motivation from many people. A lot of young people in particular.
Caroline Gerhart 18:02
Absolutely, I feel the same exact way. And it’s so interesting, this job, in particular, has transformed the way that I look at my phone because I only really use my phone, you know, to communicate with my friends and play games and use social media and everything.
Caroline Gerhart 18:17
And I am on my phone 24/7 now, but calling contacts and, you know, getting emails and stuff. And so when I get home, I don’t want to touch it, I’m like, get it away from me, I want to sit down and like be a person for a minute, you know.
Caroline Gerhart 18:34
But in college, I was attached to it in all those ways. It was a way to, you know, when I had a free minute, not be bored, and freshman year I lived by myself, and that really was like, I was able to like escape into it to a not healthy degree, you know, I really think it’s changed the way that we communicate with each other, not for the better.
Caroline Gerhart 18:57
I feel that so much of this canceled culture that we have in today’s society and, you know, people getting into fights and stuff. So much of it stems from the fact that you can’t interpret tone and intention through a text message or tweet or Facebook post, you know, you have to be able to communicate with a person face to face to do that.
Caroline Gerhart 19:16
And as somebody who communicates for a living, I think that’s like the worst part about it right now is that I see, you know, we take a lot of social media things from social media, and they can be stories sometimes. And it’s like, this might not have even happened if you guys just picked up the phone and called each other, you know, met in person and talked about it, you know?
Pete Newsome 19:39
Yeah, and there’s the constant opportunity to do that and too much opportunity where that never stops. And it’s as easy as sending out a one-sentence message which can and often does ruin relationships and change the entire course of a relationship that you’d have to go out of your way to make contact with someone before those social media, you’d have to make a conscious decision, I’m going to pick up the phone, I’m going to call this person, I’m going to have a conversation with him, there’s going to be back and forth interaction live.
Pete Newsome 20:10
Where now it’s, you know, you don’t know what you’re going to see next, depending on your mood and the situation you’re in at the moment. I mean, I’ve probably done it too. I know on Twitter over time, I mean, I’ve had to change the way I use my Twitter account where I would get in the habit of sending a reply or message to someone without any thought until, you know, a little time went by, and I thought, wait a minute, this is a terrible idea.
Pete Newsome 20:38
This is not good because once you send that message to the world owns it, it never goes away, as you well know. And that does a lot of harm along the way. And we keep returning to the younger generation because look at my age if I do it now. So be it right, I can live with the consequences.
Pete Newsome 20:57
But a 15-year-old, an 18-year-old who still has to rely on so many others who are potentially seeing those messages can be devastating, which you could argue is unfair, but it’s fair or not. It’s a world that we’re in right now.
Caroline Gerhart 21:13
Absolutely. And I think too, you know, thinking about TikTok and YouTube, these videos like heavy platforms, I think it can expose people to so much more in not a good way that they should be. And also, I see so many people who are, you know, looking for a career not sure what they want to do and decide, oh, I’m just going to make it as an influencer.
Caroline Gerhart 21:37
And not that there’s anything wrong with that. But it’s like a one-in-a-million chance that that’s actually going to be sustainable for your lifetime. You know. And that, I think, is a huge thing that people asked me when I said, you know, I want to pursue a career in journalism. They were like, oh, are you going to do, like, TikTok and YouTube, but it’s like, you know, a supplement.
Caroline Gerhart 22:00
And I was like, no, we do have to keep up with our social media, Instagram, Twitter, and stuff because people use them as forms of news, news media. And so that you know, I try and keep up with, but the other things, I’m like, it’s funny that because so many people get their news through those apps, that they automatically sync us up with each other, even though that’s not necessarily what we did.
Pete Newsome 22:26
Well, it’s blended now. Right? I mean, for better or worse, it has blended you, of course, are not unaware, I would suspect. Well, I say, of course, I don’t really know this, that the media’s reputation over the last couple of years is in question at times. And while it’s funny, I will often think we used to take things for granted. Right?
Pete Newsome 22:50
We’d hear you know, Walter Conkrite. Right. Is that? Right? Yeah. So or, you know, people like that, who were just those, that was the authority, they would say it, maybe people questioned it. But I think, for the most part, you just assumed that what you heard on the news was fact, and we went forward.
Pete Newsome 23:08
And that was okay. Now, every statement has almost what appears to be a polar opposite contradiction that’s made in the world, and we’re all over the place with this conversation. Hopefully, you don’t mind.
Caroline Gerhart 23:22
No, it’s great this is how my brain works. So I’m driving with it.
Pete Newsome 23:26
But today, I mean, what’s your take on all of that, where I’ll use the easy example, you turn on MSNBC, you get one story, you turn on Fox News, you get a complete, contradictory message. And, you know, journalism seems to be a lot more about sharing of opinions. And having an agenda today, it seems to me as an outsider than it used to be. Is that accurate? Or would you disagree with that?
Caroline Gerhart 23:51
From a journalist standpoint, that’s not accurate, like the idea of as a journalist, I’m unbiased in every story that I do, you know. But as journalists, our goal is to share others’ opinions with the community. So it’s also really different in a local market like I’m in.
Caroline Gerhart 24:11
When I first started publishing my stories and getting them aired and everything during my internship there, I can’t even remember what the story was about, but it was what we call a soft story. You know, it was something sweet that happened in the community. I was all excited. I got to meet new people, I was so excited for it to go out.
Caroline Gerhart 24:29
And when we posted the web article on Facebook, somebody commented something nasty, like nitpicking at a certain thing. And you know, I sometimes like to think that the world is rainbows and sunshine. So it’s partly my issue, but also like, I’ve just had to come up to understand that somebody is always going to have something negative to say about what you do.
Caroline Gerhart 24:54
And my job is to stay, as unbiased as I possibly can throughout that, and you know, it’s interesting we in our newsroom we talk about and look at, you know, national news all the time we were CBS and ABC affiliate, and so or excuse me, CBS and NBC goodness.
Caroline Gerhart 25:17
So we’ll pull national stories sometimes. And it’s interesting to see the difference in how they produce their stories versus what we do just because I would say now more than ever, they’re trying to be as careful as they possibly can with their wording and what sound bites they use in a story.
Caroline Gerhart 25:33
So that they’re not creating that polarization between audiences, because the goal is everybody wants, you know, we want everybody to watch our newscast, not everybody else’s. And so the goal is never to be biased. But like I said earlier, share other people’s opinions, there’s a rule about subjective versus objective soundbites.
Caroline Gerhart 25:56
In journalism, you never want to use an interview, a clip of an interview, where somebody’s just stating facts, you want to hear the emotional side of what they have to give. And, you know, that’s like if a sheriff is giving a press conference about a tragic event of a murder or something you don’t want to give the body was found at this time in this place on this day, you want to put in the story, our heart is going out to these families and what this tragedy that they’ve gone through, we are going to find whoever did this if that makes sense.
Pete Newsome 26:27
Yeah. Is that is that because people connect with emotions?
Caroline Gerhart 26:30
Yeah, our job too is to do the boring part, say, you know, sometimes the hard part, sometimes the boring part, but just the facts. And then we let you know, the people tell their stories. Because, as I’m sure you know, human beings are natural storytellers.
Caroline Gerhart 26:47
And so we just tried to play into that emotion of, you know, let’s get you the facts that you need to know. But also, you really want to hear the story, what these people have to say about the situation, you don’t want to hear that from us. So that’s kind of where that idea comes from.
Pete Newsome 27:04
Yeah. Well, my unsolicited wish for journalism as a whole is that it really does find a way to be balanced going forward. And to be more objective than anything else. And because I think we need that, I think the polarization of, you know, of the country right now is in this is a bigger issue than we’re gonna solve, but is bad for everyone.
Pete Newsome 27:30
So I understand it. From a business standpoint, why you’d want to say extreme things to get clicks and, you know, pander to your audience if you’re on one side or the other? But I think everyone loses.
Caroline Gerhart 27:46
Absolutely, no. And I think that you know, there’s a difference between pushing, like pushing somebody’s buttons too hard in an interview, like, I’m gonna say this to you to get you to say what I want you to say, and just letting them tell their story.
Caroline Gerhart 28:01
And I think people have taken it to that extreme of let’s push this person to their furthest point. And, you know, see what happens from there. And that’s not what I ever want to do, you know, people, especially in this area freak out when I bring my camera around in the first place.
Caroline Gerhart 28:18
So I want to make them feel the most comfortable that they can. But yeah, news can media can be very polarizing right now. And, you know, I think part of that comes from also, you know, in a live interview, you never know what that person will say. And so much of what we do is live broadcasting. And so I think we can get into trouble there sometimes too.
Pete Newsome 28:42
So speaking of live broadcasting and being out in public, there’s a trend. It’s an unfortunate one where people like to jump in and try to get on cameras, is that something you’ve encountered yet and had to deal with where you’re like, come on, get out of my shot?
Caroline Gerhart 28:58
I did. So our station does a series called hometown tours. And so that happens during my internship. So we would pick a new town each week of July, and we would do stories on little cool things in that town or cool museum or cool, you know, a factory there. And then on Friday, we would do our live broadcasts from that town. And so the first Friday that happened was my first live shot ever in history, which was like no pressure or anything, right?
Caroline Gerhart 29:30
But there was a woman who had some very specific things that she wanted to say. And thank goodness, we were not live yet. They just had the camera setup and everything. And I was just prepping, but she, you know, was hooting and hollering and, you know, kind of screaming about what she wanted to scream about, and our chief engineer, who is the best, kind of walked up to her and was like, you know, we need you to leave, and she started yelling at him.
Caroline Gerhart 29:58
Thank goodness she can’t go away on our own before the live shot started. But that situation was a little scarier and anxiety-inducing than like, oh my gosh, you know, getaway. But thank goodness, I haven’t had any crazy people try to get into the back of stories or anything yet, but it happens more often than people think a lot of it doesn’t end up on TV because people don’t want to go.
Caroline Gerhart 30:22
I believe as journalists, we don’t necessarily want to go viral for that because it demeans some of the work. I think in a way. But, um, but yeah, it’s crazy. Even just carrying a camera into, like, you know, parking in a shopping center. And wherever I’m taking the camera, people scream put me on TV, I’m like, well, are you doing anything interesting? If you are, then maybe I will. But if you’re just grocery shopping, then I’m so sorry. I’m not going to let you know.
Pete Newsome 30:50
Maybe be careful what you wish for when you say that. They may show up. Do something interesting on the fly that you’d prefer they didn’t.
Caroline Gerhart 30:58
Right? Oh, goodness. Yeah, we wouldn’t want that.
Pete Newsome 31:01
My message to anyone who likes to jump in front of a camera or, you know, it happens a lot at athletic events where the commentators are talking, and someone realizes they’re in the shot. No one wants to see you, and whatever you’re doing, you’re gonna, it doesn’t look good. No, you may think it does. It’s a bad idea.
Pete Newsome 31:22
I support that not happening. 100%. So let’s talk about pursuing a career in journalism because that’s something that I suspect a lot of people want to do. I mean, you want to be on TV, you want to be, you know, famous, right? You want to be known, you want to be recognized.
Pete Newsome 31:43
I mean, you’ve mentioned earlier the feeling of being on stage. And I get that I mean, I am a big fan of live performances, and I’m constantly amazed by the talent, that level of someone being able to go out on stage, night after night, perform at a high level. And then the appreciation that comes has to feel amazing, right? So does that ever get old?
Caroline Gerhart 32:08
That doesn’t get old, ever. It’s funny, though, I want to go back to what you’re saying about people wanting to do this. We’re at like a low right now of people joining this career, at least in my area. I know, my program at Troy, you know, they’re always looking for new talent, new people. We at WTVY, why are always looking for new talent and new people.
Caroline Gerhart 32:31
And I think part of it is what we were talking about, you know, the media does have kind of a negative connotation to it right now. And I think many people are scared to say that that’s what they want to do and pursue it. But that feeling never gets old. It’s like once people do get into it, though, it’s like, you see all of this beauty in it.
Caroline Gerhart 32:52
And you know, it is really rewarding getting to, you know, just like that feeling is on stage, my goal was always as a performer and a dancer, I least want to make one person in the audience feel one emotion, depending on whatever kind of piece I was doing. If I was doing a musical theater tap piece, I wanted to make somebody smile and laugh.
Caroline Gerhart 33:14
If I was doing a sad or contemporary piece, I want somebody to feel the emotion that I’m feeling as this character. And so, from the journalistic side of things, it’s more that I want to give somebody information that they didn’t have before, that might change the course of what they’re doing tomorrow.
Caroline Gerhart 33:34
Or, you know, even if it’s not my job, it’s the meteorologist’s job. But even if we can get somebody to take their umbrella tomorrow because it’s gonna rain, you know, that changed somebody, you know, so that’s kind of how I look at it.
Caroline Gerhart 33:48
And that really does never get old, especially to, you know, it doesn’t happen a lot. But when people recognize me, if I’m like, you know, doing whatever around town, and they say, Oh, I really liked this one store you did or something like that. It’s an awesome feeling.
Pete Newsome 34:04
I bet it has to be. But I’m surprised that I think of that first at a national level, so back to the part about the media being criticized lately. Right? I don’t associate that locally at all. And I only associated with real politics, I guess, from what I think, so that seems pretty isolated.
Pete Newsome 34:25
But do you think that that’s a reason that people see, I would think almost the opposite, not having any real clue that people would say, I’m gonna go make a difference in this, and if that perspective exists today, right, you know, whether it’s valid or not, I’m going to be different. I’m going to change it. I’m surprised there’s not a line out the door of people wanting to be on camera.
Caroline Gerhart 34:51
Right? And I mean, that’s my mindset too. And that’s how I’ve always been the person where if something’s not the way I think it should be, I’m gonna try and be a part of the change and help facilitate that. But I think also a big part of it is the majority, not necessarily the majority. But a lot of people who go into school for journalism, want to do sports, want to be on ESPN, want to be, you know, sports center, all that.
Caroline Gerhart 35:19
That’s what they want to do. And it’s really hard. It’s a niche position, there’s only one to two sports directors and reporters at each station, even in big places, you know, so I think that’s also part of the reason why we’re not seeing, at least I’m not seeing or hearing of a ton of new people wanting to be a part of this. But then the other issue is that the few people who do usually end up really good at it, and everybody’s fighting over them.
Caroline Gerhart 35:50
Yeah, so really is because, unfortunately, that is a hard thing about this job, you know, you can be really passionate about journalism, and you can be a great writer, but you might not be able to handle on-air personality type part of it, you know, you might have the personality to do it. But you might not be able to read as fast as you need to read or, you know, pronounce all the words correctly and things like that, I was blessed that I have a thick southern accent. So I don’t I didn’t have to do any, like dialect coaching or anything like that.
Pete Newsome 35:50
Caroline Gerhart 36:24
But I know some people struggle with that, especially in the south. So I think there also are a lot of, there’s a lot of self-doubts, and people who might consider it and end up, you know, not pursuing it.
Pete Newsome 36:36
I think that’s gonna be a big piece of it because there’s, like, a big intimidation factor. So I would think of it that you probably don’t think a lot of people wouldn’t think they’re qualified or are good enough to make it and incorrectly assume I mean, I’m really surprised that you’re not describing it as an even more competitive break into the industry.
Pete Newsome 37:02
Because I know people want to be on camera. I mean, it’s, and maybe they don’t realize that that possibility exists, or back to what we talked about earlier, maybe that fear is preventing. So, where would you recommend me if someone wants to pursue it? Where do you start the app to get a specific degree? Do you have to have an internship, what’s the path?
Caroline Gerhart 37:27
It’s interesting, I don’t necessarily think you need a journalism degree to do this job. Now, some places are different, some places might require you to have one. I think anything in English, communications, really do that you definitely do need a college degree. But from that point on, you know, start really starting out in the business.
Caroline Gerhart 37:51
It’s kind of what my dad always says to his players, you know, why would you go to a D1 school, where you’re never gonna get on the field, you’re gonna sit on the bench the whole time, you should go to a D3 school where you’re actually going to get to play if that’s what you want to do.
Pete Newsome 38:04
Caroline Gerhart 38:05
Starting out in a super, super small market, I looked in Orlando like I really wanted to go back home, I’m really close to my parents. And I looked in Orlando, and there were just no opportunities there for me at the moment. So I talked to my director at Trojan Vision, and he set me up here in Dothan. And it is a super small market, but you stay for two years, and you get all of this awesome on-air experience.
Caroline Gerhart 38:31
And then other people, you know, they want you, and I think that is a really hard thing too that people don’t understand is that you’re not going to get a job at NBC right out the gate. Like it’s just not going to happen. You know, you have to have those experiences in smaller markets moving forward. So that’s my biggest advice.
Pete Newsome 38:50
Again, great advice for younger people who need to hear it. And that’s been a generational problem in my experience, where I would say people generally under 30 right now think that success happens. Yeah, this is very much a generalization, but too big of a percentage, I’ll say, think that success happens quickly.
Pete Newsome 39:19
And it happens easily, where I don’t know how to be successful quickly. And I even mentioned that too in our office the other day to our team, I said to think about anyone who you know who’s achieved something significant. Someone you know, personally, someone you thought was famous that you look up to and then think about which of those achievements came fast and came easily, and I don’t know of any I don’t know of anything significant.
Pete Newsome 39:47
That happens easily. And so you do need to put in that time you do need to climb the mountain, and that’s how I think of it. But so but you know, so many people want to show up at the top. Like you said, showing up on NBC Nightly News from day one not gonna happen.
Caroline Gerhart 40:04
I mean, like, I feel like a part of me was still like, oh, maybe I’ll get an offer from I don’t know, you know. And it really is. It’s just not feasible. But it’s interesting. When I did one of my first interviews for my internship, my news director asked me, you know, who are some of your favorite journalists, I am a huge Today Show fan.
Caroline Gerhart 40:24
Like, I grew up watching the Today Show with my mom, which is part of why I fell in love with journalism. And I love Savannah and Hoda when I mentioned that he was like, oh, Hoda, you know, interviewed in this market in this area when she was first starting out of college.
Caroline Gerhart 40:41
And so it’s like, you look at that. And on the Today Show, they’ll show, you know, their old stories from when they were reporters out at a storm, you know, just getting footage and stuff. And so I think that it is important to remember that everybody came from somewhere. And more often than not, the people who really had to work hard for it are still successful. It wasn’t just like, a one-hit-wonder tech deal.
Pete Newsome 41:06
Correct. Yeah. And I think those things go hand in hand. Right? Yeah, I interviewed Brian Shields, who is a meteorologist here in Orlando, a couple of weeks ago. And he talked about how you know about his path and how he would drive all night in college to get a shift on air out of state.
Pete Newsome 41:31
And then, even after he graduated, he had a weekend opportunity and a bigger market. So he was flying back and forth to another state again. And you know, it was so nice to hear. Because when you go industry by industry and job by job, everyone I speak with, without exception, who has achieved any level of success and has a story like that.
Pete Newsome 41:56
And I think those stories need to be shared, I think that message needs to be shared. And so it’s great to see you doing this, it’s great to see that you weren’t waiting to be handed anything you’ve taken your career, you know, the bull by the horns, so to speak, right?
Pete Newsome 42:16
You’re right out of school, you’re going on air, what’s been the hardest part of that for you in that transition from student to professional? Who’s, you’re accountable now, right? People are listening to you tell them? Yeah, what the news is, that’s a big deal.
Caroline Gerhart 42:31
It is. And it’s funny because I graduated on July 29, I think it was a Friday. And I started work that Monday. So I did like, I didn’t take any break. I just went right into it. And I think the hardest part was kind of internally, like making that transition from student to professional, and also trying to, you know, prove to myself that I am a professional, I’m qualified to do this. I definitely battle imposter syndrome.
Caroline Gerhart 43:04
Like, and that’s a lot of because of just the situation that I was in, you know, moving from student to professional so quickly, but from an actual on the job, you know, what has been really hard is that throughout, you know, my entire life, I’ve loved to write, and I’ve always learned super long form, you know, essays, research papers, I like to be wordy in my writing.
Caroline Gerhart 43:28
And that’s not broadcast writing, you have to be short, you have to be to the point, you can’t use too big words, you know, and every once in a while, I’ll turn on a script for approval. And my news director will call me in and be like, and point to a word. And it’ll be like, I don’t know, something like loquacious or something. I don’t know.
Pete Newsome 43:49
Don’t use that on air.
Caroline Gerhart 43:52
He was like, really, it’s like, I know, I’m sorry. So that has been a really hard thing to battle. It’s definitely, I mean, even more than a habit at this point, that writing for me. And so breaking out of that and learning how to be super quick, super conversational. And making sure that it’s not too above anybody’s head has been tough.
Pete Newsome 44:14
Well, it’s interesting. You mentioned imposter syndrome. I’m familiar with that feeling when I was first out of school, and I would be in recruiting, and I remember talking to people older than my parents, and I would have to talk to them about their income and their career. And it was so uncomfortable. Until I realized, Wait, I’m the professional here. I’m the one whose job is to do this.
Pete Newsome 44:40
And it’s only uncomfortable if I make it that way or in, and I had to make that switch, and I remember like it was yesterday. It wasn’t yesterday. It was a long time ago. And I and I think young people who you are can be held back by that, and you’re not doing that, so what advice would you give to young people who may or may feel that way that they’re not worthy, so to speak, any, any, anything you’d share on that?
Caroline Gerhart 45:12
I’m definitely still working on it. So any advice, I’m also trying to take myself, I think it’s funny, fake it till you make it is a good thing to think about. Because even though you might think I’m not good enough to do this, well, just fake like you are until you can do it.
Caroline Gerhart 45:29
And I find that mostly in similar situations to you, I’m talking to somebody about, you know, a tragedy that maybe has happened, or something really important to them, a charity that they need donations for, I did a story this week about domestic violence awareness.
Caroline Gerhart 45:45
And sometimes I’m a very girly girl, I like to wear pink, I like to, you know, dress the way I like to dress. And people might see me walk up and be like, oh, she’s not a serious journalist, she, you know, is this little girl, you know, walking up out of nowhere, we don’t know her.
Caroline Gerhart 46:01
And I have just, you know, decided that I’m going to let my work speak for itself, you know, I’m going to ask them the questions I need to know the answers to, and through that, they should be able to understand that I’m qualified to do this. And, you know, I know what I’m doing kind of deal.
Pete Newsome 46:19
Well, you’re doing it right. So I think that speaks for itself. But you didn’t bring up something that I have to say I often don’t think about in interviews or even business settings which is gender. To me, it’s never been something I’ve thought of in my career, and so you could say that?
Pete Newsome 46:42
Well, that’s because you’re a guy, you haven’t had to think of that. How much does that come in? Is that a factor for you too, is that you know, do you see that as a, you know, as a woman and in the particular young woman that you have to operate at an even higher standard than you otherwise would have to? If you were older? Or if you were a man? Or is that? Is that something that hopefully you don’t have to feel?
Caroline Gerhart 47:07
Yeah, I love where I work, and we have such a supportive, you know, team and administrative team and I have never felt that way, you know, through my work ever. I think some of our viewers sometimes think that you know, we have to perform to maybe a higher standard, and that’s just self-personal bias from person to person.
Caroline Gerhart 47:31
I do think that women in general, in media, in journalism, struggle with the idea that, you know, based on how somebody looks, somebody might not be willing to listen to you do an interview with you, or even believe what you’re telling them on television, which is why we’re making strides.
Caroline Gerhart 47:49
I think news and media and journalism is coming, becoming more body positive, and more accepting of, you know, all races, genders, religions, but I am in southern Alabama, and you know, sometimes there, it’s just not like that here.
Caroline Gerhart 48:08
I find myself really worried about how I’m looking when I am on air. And you know, that’s also just me, I really care about my appearance. But I know that there are people who, maybe if I’ve put on a few pounds, might comment, Oh, is she pregnant? We have had people come up, not to me, thank goodness, because I don’t know if I would recover.
Caroline Gerhart 48:28
But we had somebody come up and like ask if somebody was pregnant, and it was like, Are you serious? Like, also, that’s what you’re focusing on? You’re not focusing on the news when you’re watching the news. So it’s just I think that’s the hardest part about being a woman in this industry.
Caroline Gerhart 48:49
And, you know, I think that there’s also been a connotation of, you know, well, I guess I touched on that, but like, there always has to be a male and a female anchor. And why I love the Today Show so much is because they broke that, you know, after the whole scandal that they had happened. And I think that that was kind of the first step signifying to everybody else that, like we can do this all together, you know, we can start battling these stereotypes.
Pete Newsome 49:21
Yeah, I look, I look forward to a day when we stopped focusing on all of that so much, right? And I feel like we could be close. I feel like we keep getting pulled back to some degree. Yeah, there’s the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Football Coach is a black guy, and he was asked a question about coaching and, you know, another black head coach the other day, and he’s like, what I love the way to answer the question because he basically said, like, that’s the last thing on our mind.
Pete Newsome 49:54
Like we’re football coaches, why would we why would that be a factor essentially said, You guys stop asking about it, it’ll stop being a factor, right?
Pete Newsome 50:04
And that that I believe, and but what we all know, it’s still real selectively, and in some, in some cases, some parts of the country more than others, some markets more than others, so good for you for identifying it and not letting it slow you down anyway because that’s really what ultimately is necessary, right is to face those challenges. And then and then move forward with what you’re doing so good for you.
Caroline Gerhart 50:30
Thanks. Especially I think in that case, too, I feel like my dad is very competitive, and I’m like, well, why act like that, that may win. So I’m not going to let them win, you know, so I’m just gonna keep doing what I do and being myself, and that’s all I can really do.
Pete Newsome 50:46
Well, you know what, I think that’s a perfect way to end then, Caroline. And I’ve except I do have one more. One question. I asked everyone this, and when I’m talking about their career and what they’ve chosen to do, although you’re still on your way, I will ask you, have you found career zen?
Caroline Gerhart 51:03
Um, I would personally say Not yet. I’m still new to these three months on the job. With what I do, it’s difficult because it’s so easy to take it home. News is everywhere. News is happening all the time. So I don’t know if I found it yet. But I’m definitely in the right place to find it soon. I’ll say that.
Pete Newsome 51:30
That’s the perfect answer. I love it. Alright. Well, Caroline Gerhart, thank you so much for your time today. I will absolutely check back with you later. I’ll get you to come on. We’ll see what you’re doing next. We’re going to follow your career. And really appreciate your time today talking about pursuing a career in journalism.
Pete Newsome 51:45
This has been really a pleasure.
Caroline Gerhart 51:47
Of course. Thank you so much. It was my pleasure to be on.
Pete Newsome 51:50
Alright, everyone. Thanks for listening, and drive safe.