Fettrow-Alderfer earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Penn State University in 2000. She landed her first reporting job with WENY-TV, a small station in Elmira, New York. Within two years, she moved up to WBNG-TV, a CBS affiliate in Binghamton, New York. “There, I worked with a really good hands-on news director who ripped my writing apart every time,” she recalls. “From there on out, my writing got a hell of a lot tighter.”
In 2004, Fettrow-Alderfer became a general assignment reporter at TWC News 14 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and after that, a general assignment sports reporter with WHP CBS 21 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She worked there until 2009 as weekend sports anchor and weekday sports reporter. Fettrow-Alderfer has faced some demanding assignments in her journalism career. Eleven months into her first job at WENY-TV, she covered an arson story involving a woman who set her house on fire and killed one of her three children. “I don’t know that you’re ever fully prepared for writing in a breaking news situation and for the emotional toll it takes on you,” she says. “But you can be prepared for the story.
When the scanner went off in the newsroom, I asked myself, ‘How would I have this phone conversation with my parents, a friend, or family member later? What would they want to know and how would I describe the scene?’ When you write television news, you’re essentially having a conversation with the people who were not there.”