Photo provided by Pulitzer Prizes: Mike Pride, Pulitzer Prize Administrator, and Lee C. Bollinger, President of Columbia University, present the 2015 Public Service Prize to Jennifer Berry Hawes, Natalie Caula Hauff, Doug Pardue, Glenn Smith and Mitch Pugh of The Post and Courier.
By Kailey Cota, SIPA assistant
Posted February 17, 2022
It’s not often that someone has the opportunity to work in newspaper, radio, TV, government and at a library, but Natalie Caula Hauff says the skills she learned in each job prepared her for the next.
“Libraries and journalism have a lot of parallels in that both are rooted in the right to access information freely,” Caula Hauff said.
Caula Hauff will lead SIPA’s "Convention Conversation" at the 2022 convention on March 5. Phillip Caston, a former The Post and Courier reporter and the yearbook adviser at Wando HS (Mt. Pleasant, S.C.), will moderate the conversation.
Public service is what Caula Hauff has spent her whole life chasing — and it’s even what she won a Pulitzer Prize for.
She started her career at NPR affiliate, Mid-Florida Public Radio, before spending five years as a general assignment reporter at WCIV-TV, the ABC affiliate, and finishing her journalism career at The Post and Courier.
She spent eight months working on The Post and Courier’s "Till Death Do Us Part" series filing hundreds of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and analyzing data to tell the story of why South Carolina kept topping the list of states around the nation of women killed by men.
When the team was finished, they had written a seven-part series that was the most comprehensive public reporting on the topic in the state, Caula Hauff said.
But the work had also taken a toll.
“I was drained and my priorities had shifted in my work/family life balance. So, when an opportunity presented itself to work at Charleston County as a media relations coordinator, I took the leap out of the journalism industry,” Caula Hauff said.
She spent two years handling media relations for Charleston County before becoming the Charleston County Public Library’s public relations manager. She was then promoted to the director of communications and programs and is currently the Deputy Director of the system. She oversees outreach, the mobile library, programs and events, partnerships, food services and communications.
“When I became a journalist, I never would have expected to be a leader in a library system, but I can attest that every single role I had in journalism prepared me for this very position,” she said.
Each medium presents a different way to tell stories and serve the community.
Caula Hauff said she adored her time in radio.
“It really gave me the opportunity to embrace creativity in storytelling. You don't have any visuals and so it was my job to encapsulate the listener in the moment of the story I was telling through natural sound and compelling interviews.”
When she moved onto TV, she said she found a niche in crime. The fast-pace was exciting and her job was ever-changing, she said.
Ultimately, she moved onto newspaper reporting because “the pressures of the daily show needs and growing competition very much affected my ability to tell valuable stories or provide me the time to conduct investigative journalism pieces.”
But through the mediums, she said relationships are always key. Not only would she drop by offices to say hello, but she would schedule coffee meetings and lunches and protect sources’ anonymity when they asked for it.
“A great journalist goes beyond the beat call. I learned the value of informational currency. I had to earn the trust of sources by building strong relationships,” Caula Hauff said.
Ahead of the convention, she hopes students will take time to read at least part one of the "Till Death Do Us Part" series.
Advisers interested in attending SIPA 2022 with their students can register online.