Exploring all corners of 21st century journalism
In February, St. Olaf College student Avery Ellfeldt ’19 arrived in Quito, Ecuador, for a semester studying social change with an internship in the country’s capital. Four months later, she arrived in the heart of another capital: Washington, D.C., where she had a summer internship with Bloomberg Government.
Visions of social change in Ecuador
In the spring of 2018 Ellfeldt lived in Quito, Ecuador, while studying the country’s visions of social change through an academic internship with El Churo Comunicación, a nonprofit organization that works to give those who are under-covered or forgotten by news organizations a platform to share their stories.
At St. Olaf, Ellfeldt is the editor of the student newspaper, the Manitou Messenger, while majoring in both Spanish and an individual major that she calls Intercultural Communication. “Intercultural Communication is how to communicate through writing and media in a way that acknowledges power structures that are present in society,” says Ellfeldt. “Essentially it is how to do journalism without eliminating or erasing certain people and points of view from the picture.”
Ellfeldt was thrilled to join El Churo Comunicación, where her studies at St. Olaf fit right into the work that the organization does. “Their mission is what my major is,” says Ellfeldt. “It was exactly what I was interested in.”
In her time with Churo, Ellfeldt learned how the organization gives those without voices an avenue to convey their stories by covering individuals and social movements that are not covered by typical Ecuadorian media. As part of this internship, Ellfeldt strengthened her photography and reporting skills while covering protests. She also participated in Churo’s workshops that are designed to help community members develop their own media skills.
A summer with Bloomberg Government
Just seven days after ending her hands-on learning experience in Quito, Ellfeldt started another internship — this time at Bloomberg Government, a subset of one of the largest media consolidation corporations in the United States, Bloomberg.
“Bloomberg Government provides news analysis on policy and puts this information on their website where lobbyists, chiefs of staff, or members of Congress can go to get the expert analysis of a bill,” Ellfeldt says.
In a nutshell, Bloomberg Government provides information to United States decision makers so that they have the tools to make informed ones. “It is extremely incremental reporting that breaks down what’s going on in D.C. from a policy perspective so that politicians who don’t have any time in their days can still understand what is going on,” she says.
As a reporting intern for Bloomberg Government, Ellfeldt mainly worked with Bloomberg Government’s U.S. Department of Transportation reporter, although through the internship, she also got to see and work in many other areas of Washington politics.
On one particular day, Ellfeldt covered a Senate subcommittee hearing on child separations at the border. “The head of Customs and Border Protection was there, a Homeland Security representative was there, the Office of Refugee Resettlement was there, and some very furious senators were there. As they discussed the issue, it was my job to figure out what was news within all of it.”
Another day was spent at the White House with Bloomberg Government’s White House correspondent, where she was on site with media professionals when Air Force One landed on the South Lawn.
Ellfeldt says her internship in Ecuador and her subsequent internship in Washington D.C. could not have been more different.
“I was exposed to both ends of the journalism industry. The two polar opposites,” says Ellfeldt. “In Ecuador, the work was all about who is not being represented by the media and how we can open a space for people who need it.”
This, she notes, is in stark contrast to the news environment in Washington, where coverage is centered on well-known politicians.
“My internship in Washington, D.C., made me more realistic about what the industry is and can be, while Ecuador showed me that there are many ways to be creative with journalism to use it in unconventional ways,” she says.