by Kimberly Singer
From high school on, Lindsey Ellefson had a goal: To work for CNN by age 30. Armed with an associate degree from BSC and a bachelor’s degree in communications with a specialization in broadcast journalism from St. Francis College in New York City, the 25-year-old landed her dream job with five years to spare. In May, she became an associate producer of social TV at CNN in New York City.
Her dad, Joe Ellefson, a professor and coordinator of the BSC Criminal Justice program, said he wasn’t necessarily surprised she reached her goal ahead of schedule. “This young lady she goes for what she wants. I was excited, I was pleased, I was proud.”
Ellefson first set her sights on CNN after touring their studio in Atlanta, Ga. She was there representing Mandan High School in a Future Business Leaders of America competition the summer before her junior year. “I set a personal intention of working for the company. I kept the ticket from the tour and have it up on my fridge.”
Ellefson said she became a news hound at a young age. Her dad echoed her sentiments, and said she’s been interested in journalism and the art of telling stories since she was very young. “She was reading the cartoons in the newspaper before she went to kindergarten.”
She added, “I was always very interested in the goings on all around the country, and the ways things that happened in New York or Washington, D.C., affected people around me – teachers, parents, friends.”
Now, her job involves making the news accessible to those very people, as well as many others.
So, how did Ellefson get to CNN, aside from a lot of hard work and determination? She worked for a media blog called Mediaite operated by Dan Abrams of ABC News.
“The goal is to monitor cable news and find the big interviews and one-liners that people might miss and turn them into content that people can consume in an article form.
“During the election season, we were working monitoring all the networks and worked hard on networking to make sure we represented all the stations accurately,” she says.
Ellefson interviewed on-air talent and met a lot of people, reaffirming that CNN was where she wanted to be. “I was fortunate enough to move over here when a job opened up. It was a perfect
marriage of them needing this position and finding someone who could turn those soundbites and clips into articles – that was me.”
Taking online courses at BSC equipped Ellefson for her career by requiring her to be accountable and teaching her to communicate digitally. “When you get into journalism, especially starting out, you work with people you may never meet in person. It prepared me for online communication, which is a vital part of my career today.”
Ellefson’s role at CNN involves taking information shared in the 24/7 news cycle, and pushing it out in an article format using social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and more. One of her focuses is sharing clips and interviews from CNN’s morning show New Day.
“Just today Senator Heidi Heitkamp was on CNN’s New Day. She said when she watches the Olympics and sees America come out in the Parade of Nations, she’s impressed and proud with how diverse our athletes are and that diversity strengthens our nation. It was a forceful statement to be delivered so early in the morning. I'm able to share that out to those who may have missed it. That wasn't available prior to the advent of social media. I value the opportunity to make news accessible to a wider range of people.”
When asked about the challenges presented by news inaccuracies perpetuated by social media every day, Ellefson said she doesn’t pay much attention to it. “I always believe consumers want to be informed, and that the truth will always find its way out and prevail in the end.”
Though she values news of every variety, her favorite genre is politics. “I love the way it affects the daily life of everyone throughout the country. It can be such a force of good.”
As for future goals, Ellefson said she is paying close attention to any news related to the next presidential election. “I’m already looking forward to the 2020 election, and how much excitement there will be between now and then. My goal is to do really well between now and then, so I can serve people then, too.”