Learning from the Best


Having a role model is important for everyone, but especially in the difficult

world of journalism. On the 6th of March, the FISH staff had the honor of

interviewing the author and journalist Carol Kloeppel.


The experienced writer educated the FISH staff on struggles that journalists deal

with, such as coming up with ideas. For the FISH staff, or any journalist, coming

up with what you want to write an article about, is one of the most important

steps to your finished work. Kloeppel advised the young writers that the author

should put oneself in the audience’s shoes, referring to, when she is writing for

the expat community, she tries “to put [herself] in people’s place who are new to

Germany” and listens to “what kind of stories might be interesting to them”.

Writer’s block can be fought, Kloeppel tells us, through writing “down a list of

things or people” one would like to write about; brainstorming is the key. Paying

attention to your audience is also very important. She and her colleagues,

therefore, as they write or translate articles for the expat community, try to find

topics, which are of interest to the international community. The women’s

marches around the world, local traditions, laws or customs, or big events

happening in the area are examples of these articles.


Kloeppel also addresses what many of our FISH staff are concerned about: how

to establish a future in the journalism career. That first internship is what counts

and creating a portfolio of your articles is important. This gives you “this gives

you the opportunity to get real life experience and also show what you can do”,

which is what is so important in journalism. As Kloeppel pointedly sums it

together: “It’s basically getting your foot in the door.” Studying something that

helps you get on the path for journalism is also perhaps recommended. For

example, Kloeppel studied Speech Communications with a focus on broadcasting.

Through this degree, she got an internship at a magazine show and even got to

produce a travel segment. However, she quickly realized this was too much

“fluff” for her, but still, this “getting your foot in the door” helped her accomplish

her dreams. She “preferred news” and went, at the same TV station, to the news

section. The internship at the magazine allowed her to gather experience needed

for the internship at the news section. The first job is what counts.


Nevertheless, a bachelor in journalism is not necessarily required, the published

author informed us. One can also specialize and then after getting a Bachelor in a

specific area, gain a Masters in journalism, perhaps. For example, one can get a

degree in agriculture and later go on to journalism school, or one can study

music and parallel to that get a minor in creative writing, and go on to write

about music. One doesn’t need to think “I need to get that journalism degree.”

What Carol Kloeppel also emphasized for aspiring journalists, is building your

portfolio and having an accumulation of your work to give to your potential

employer. Employers “want someone who has shown a passion” for journalism

and writing. Always keep writing on the side and “keep trying to get your articles



Kloeppel personally realized journalism was for her when she was able to travel

around the US and be on location, where “news is being made”. For her, this is

“the coolest thing in the world.” Understandably, she viewed it as a privilege to

be able to have a pass that opens doors to exclusive buildings, such as the United

Nations, and NYPD.


However, the FISH not only discussed journalism as a career path with Carol

Kloeppel, but also writing generally. A constant issue journalists have, especially

nowadays, is the task of writing objectively. This matter of objectivity is notably

becoming an issue in the US where people have grown accustomed to watching

only news stations that reflect their personal worldview.


As Kloeppel mentions, many journalists are accused of being too emotional when

it comes to Trump. When trying to conquer this problem, Kloeppel says it is

important to stick to the facts in any article, and “tell the truth.”  In this regard,

credible sources are crucial.  But she admits that she personally does not have

experience in writing about politics. She loves op-ed pieces and enjoys reading

them from a variety of sources from New York Times to FOX.


An additional topic discussed was the translation from German to English, which

can naturally be transferred to any language switch. As Kloeppel points out, each

word has a different connotation and it’s very difficult to find that perfect match

between different languages. This transition from English to German, from the

United States to Germany, is also discussed in her book “Dear Germany”.


Generally, a large variety of topics were discussed and each FISH member

definitely enjoyed and gained new, valuable knowledge from our interview

with Carol Kloeppel. We were very lucky to be able to interview such an

experienced journals as Carol Kloeppel.