TRAVELS THE U.S. ­­— VIRTUALLY Alumna produces digital content for CBS News

Candice Helfand travels the U.S. with the click of a mouse. She covers local news for CBS from New York and still finds time to sing with an a capella musical group. Photo supplied by Candice Helfand

By Darian Barnes — 

While sitting in her CBS News office in New York, Candice Helfand, J/MS 2005, produces articles for local news websites in Washington, Tampa and Atlanta, even in Seattle.

As a digital content producer for CBS News, Helfand has a window on what’s going on in cities and towns around the nation, even though she may have never traveled there.

Helfand is a new breed of journalist.

She sifts through other reporters’ work, news services, newsfeeds, and even social media to cover news at a distance, although she feels social media is “good for the dissemination of news rather than research.”

For her, “honesty and integrity” and “making sure you have your facts straight” are important factors in covering news.

She proudly added, “CBS has a high standard and code for online and on-air reporting that I do my best to adhere to.”

A former Daily Targum reporter, Helfand has to compete with other news reports and news vendors for the public’s attention.

“It can be difficult,” she noted. “The only thing you can control is your quality of writing — what you are putting out there — and making it as good as possible, hoping it stands out.”

Talking about her role as a journalist, Helfand admitted, “It’s kind of a cheesy principle, but I see myself being a person that helps inform others, without ego, educating other people about what’s going on.”

Helfand’s job also requires a lot of patience.

“Patience is the one thing I would say is needed,” she added. “I have gaps in my day — either waiting for a story or being extremely busy.”

A native of Edison, Helfand started writing in high school. At Rutgers, she grew to love journalism as she got involved with the coursework and internships. She interned at New Jersey Network in the summer of 2004, and later at News 12 New Jersey.

After graduation, Helfand wasted no time entering the work force, freelancing as a journalist while serving as an editorial assistant at Packet Publications in Princeton from June 2006 to July 2007.

Her talents landed her a position as a staff writer at the Star-Ledger, where she reported general assignments, hard news, features, politics, and long-term projects. During her time there, she had several front- page news stories. Finally, her career at CBS News began in 2011.

“Journalism is my career and passion,” noted Helfand, but music is her recreation and devotion.

As an experienced vocal percussionist, arranger, and session singer, Helfand has carved out a nationwide reputation in a cappella mu­sic. Her singing and theatre experience spans 14 years.

Helfand was in the Mason Gross School of the Arts majoring in Voice Performance before switching to journalism. She was the featured soloist in three Rutgers choral groups, including the Kirkpatrick Choir. She was the musical director for Rutgers Deep Treble and Rutgers Shockwave, an all-female a cappella group that she founded.

Since 2001, Helfand has been the recipient of six awards, most notably the Harmony Sweepstakes Outstanding Vocal­ist in 2010, the first ever Rutgers Homecoming Idol winner in 2009, and runner up in 2009-2010 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards.

Currently, she is the founding member of the semi-professional a capella group Red States, adding there is “no political affiliation.”

Helfand sees a definite correlation between the two passions. When asked how the two help her in her career, she said, “I’ve never been shy; I have always been very comfortable putting myself out there. I think music, being on stage, has helped me with that. There is no hesitation in approaching people, talking to sources or trying to get a story.”

Helfand’s introduction on her Google+ accounts boasts: “If I’m not at work, I’m at rehearsal. That’s my life, and I love it.”

One of her vocal skills is perfect pitch. Helfand seems to have found perfect pitch in the journalism business as well.