Alexandra Ellerbeck has joined Center for Public Integrity (CPI) this fall as the 2019 American University School of Communication (AU SOC) fellow, further building on an established track record working with journalism-related nonprofits. Concurrently, she will complete her MA in journalism and public affairs at SOC.
Ellerbeck worked at the Committee to Protect Journalists, which focuses on press freedom and journalists’ rights, before returning to graduate school. While at CPJ, she coordinated its North America program. At her previous position at Freedom House, a democracy watchdog NGO, Ellerbeck worked on the Freedom on the Net project, helping produce its annual report on internet access freedom.
“Working in press freedom and free expression for the last five years has given me a profound appreciation for the watchdog role of journalists,” Ellerbeck said, of her last few years of work. “I plan to continue advocating for the rights of journalists as I join the profession.”
Ellerbeck, who graduated in 2013 from Wesleyan University, has spent time researching and studying in Latin America. She completed a Fulbright Fellowship in Brazil, where she taught English and did freelance reporting. She also spent time in Bolivia as a fellow at Mongabay, a non-profit conservation and environmental science news platform, reporting on government reprisals against environmental nonprofits and conflicts related to the indigenous community.
Her language skills in Spanish and Portuguese and her interest in foreign policy and international affairs have motivated her work in the region. “(Latin America) has incredibly interesting and really globally important politics,” she said, “but is often somewhat overlooked.”
She added that her interest in nonprofit journalism work drew her to CPI, where she will spend a year helping with research and reporting. “The Center for Public Integrity has a remarkable track record in investigative journalism,” she says. ”The ability to be a part of that is really thrilling.”
The nonprofit investigative news organization, founded by SOC Professor Charles Lewis, is among the pioneers of the nonprofit newsroom model. Its reporting focuses on the environment, government accountability, health care and national security, through a national and international lens.
Ellerbeck attributes part of CPI’s impressive record of government investigations to its Washington location, which allows its reporters to dig into stories where they happen. Ellerbeck said she is eager to support CPI and its mission wherever she can through her fellowship: “I’m keeping an open mind and seeing what comes up… I want to see how I can be most useful to them and to the reporting they’re already doing. I hope to chip in where I can and learn a lot.”