CeCe Gaines ’18 Receives 4 Under 40 Award

As a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist, CeCe Gaines ’18 is passionate about serving her local community, uncovering the deeper meaning within a story, and impacting Minnesota broadcast journalism.

By Katie Johnson ’19, content specialist

August 17, 2022 | 2 p.m.

CeCe Gaines '18 in her current role as multimedia journalist at KARE 11

CeCe Gaines '18 in her current role as multimedia journalist at KARE 11

January 7, 2021, started early for the morning news team at KBJR 6, an NBC and CBS affiliate television station serving Duluth, Minnesota. The day after the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol, morning news anchor CeCe Gaines ’18 and her team needed to produce a show that ultimately benefitted the Twin Ports community. As they shared new information with their viewers, Gaines wanted to make the news relevant to the show’s specific viewers while answering the larger question: How does the attack on the Capitol impact the future of American democracy?  

The team pulled together numerous elements to ensure their show added to the national news coverage, not just repeated it. They included minute-by-minute updates, reactions, graphics, and an “In Case You Missed It” video that conveyed the information in a visually impactful way. For their show’s passion, urgency, and community impact, Gaines and her team won an Upper Midwest Emmy. 

“For me, I was excited, not because I had new hardware to show off, but because I knew what it took to win it,” Gaines says. “While it was a dream to win an Emmy, I think the invaluable information we were able to provide to viewers that morning—and every morning—was the bigger accomplishment.”  

Today, the Gaines works as a multimedia journalist for KARE11, an NBC affiliate based in Minneapolis. She was awarded two Upper Midwest Emmys for her work at KBJR 6. She can trace her career path back to a mentorship program in high school, where she researched a career and shadowed someone working in the field. Gaines found a mentor at KSTP 5, an affiliate of ABC that serves the Twin Cities area. The immersive experience helped her gain writing and journalism skills, like how to interview well and how to manage day-to-day tasks. The mentorship program helped her determine that she wanted to major in journalism at Bethel. 


CeCe Gaines '18 in her role as morning anchor at KBJR 6 in Duluth, Minnesota

CeCe Gaines '18 in her role as morning anchor at KBJR 6 in Duluth, Minnesota

She’s always been intrigued by asking big questions, and Gaines’ writing and journalism skills continued to grow at Bethel. While broadcast journalism wasn’t the main focus of her program, she still learned how to ask the right questions, fact-check her stories, vet her sources, dig for deeper meaning, adapt to changes within a story, and value local journalism. “Even though I went the broadcast route, those journalistic principles span across all mediums whether print, broadcast, or digital,” Gaines says.

The summer before her senior year at Bethel, she interned at WCCO-TV | CBS Minnesota, an experience that proved invaluable for her career. “The internship allowed me to use what I was learning in college and apply it to the real world, which is always helpful,” Gaines says. “The KSTP mentorship drew me in, and the WCCO internship solidified my career path.” She encourages anyone interested in building a career in broadcast journalism to take their college internships seriously and jump at any opportunity to cover stories with the reporters they shadow.

“It’s one thing to learn how to be a journalist in a classroom. But the real learning starts when you’re thrown into real-life situations—like tracking down someone who doesn’t want to talk to media, covering a protest, being called to the scene of a shooting where you have little to no information.” Gaines says. “Those experiences are invaluable, and they shape how you tell future stories.”

Gaines has had her fair share of challenging newscasts with the COVID-19 pandemic, war in Ukraine, the murder of George Floyd, and national economic concerns. She tries to remain grounded as she tells stories about her local community, which can be hard when those stories are rooted in tragedy or discouragement. In those cases, she depends on her family for support, and they have seen her through some of the harder stories and seasons. She has also witnessed many communities step up and show resilience during dark times. “It’s always amazing and redemptive to see a community embrace adversity and rise above it,” Gaines says. “I’ve been lucky along my journey to witness that a few times over the past four years. It gives me and viewers hope for a better tomorrow.”

Four years into her career as a broadcast journalist, Gaines has been recognized as one of Bethel University’s 2022 4 Under 40 Alumni Award recipients for her ambition, dedication to serving her communities, and commitment to ethical reporting. And while her experience so far has certainly set her on a career path full of great impact and service, she has not lost herself in her accomplishments.

“Telling stories about our communities is important. Getting vital news out to viewers is important. But so are we,” she says. “It’s all a balancing act—but it’s doable.”

“Minnesotans need ethical storytellers, truth-tellers, in an unprecedented last 18 months in our communities. When covering elections, COVID-19, and the killing of George Floyd, journalists must be courageous, thorough, and ethical. Luke, in the first four versus of his gospel, basically claims to be an investigative journalist who has done his research and must tell the truth about the greatest story ever told. That's what CeCe Gaines is doing in Minnesota now.”

— Professor of Journalism Scott Winter, who nominated her for the award

Nominate the next 4 Under 40 award recipient!

Bethel University’s National Alumni Board annually seeks and accepts nominations for the 4 Under 40 Alumni Achievement Award. The selection is made from Bethel University graduates 40 years of age or younger who have had outstanding achievements in their career, public service, or volunteer activities.

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