No Fake News for LCW Grad
Internships Prepared Carla Loebenstein, Class of 2018, for the Nexus of Politics and Journalism
When a meal home delivery company in Brooklyn went out of business, it stiffed one customer more than three grand. Lucky for them, Seven on Your Side and the program’s intern Carla Loebenstein were on the case.
“We got the family their money back,” stated Loebenstein, a recent graduate of the Lander College for Women—The Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School. “I love helping people and showing the world that you can get justice.”
During the course of her internship with Seven on Your Side, Loebenstein spent every Friday in the ABC-7 newsroom for sixteen weeks. She scoured the Seven on Your Side tipline and the thousands of Facebook messages the group received, and then conducted follow-up investigations and interviews.
“We collected the evidence and working with our producer, we pieced the story together and made the stories production-worthy,” recounted Loebenstein. “Then reporter Nina Pineda shot the story. I had a chance to go out on shoots and work in the media control room to help edit the video.”
Other stories Loebenstein worked on included pieces on hackers targeting Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks accounts and several cases of consumer fraud. She estimated that the stories she worked on brought between 50-60K to wronged customers and consumers. The stories aired at the 5:55 p.m. slot on weekdays during the evening news on ABC-7.
“I loved working for a small team” she said. “It was me, a producer, another intern and a reporter. I was able to develop real relationships.”
“I got to see what it was like to work in a newsroom,” continued Loebenstein. “I got to see how intense a newsroom can become. You can see the excitement when there’s breaking news—papers are flying, reporters are yelling—it’s almost like being in a movie.”
This wasn’t the first high-profile internship for Loebenstein since starting LCW, she has also interned at the mayors’ offices of both San Diego and New York City. Loebenstein first heard about LCW when she was involved in West Coast NCSY and met Dr. David Luchins, chair of LCW’s political science department, at a Shabbaton. Seeing her potential, Dr. Luchins offered her a scholarship to the school. Loebenstein initially declined but during her year in Israel at Machon Mayan, she realized that LCW’s mix of strong Jewish and academic studies was right for her. She called Dr. Luchins from Israel.
“Without hesitation he said he could get me a scholarship,” recalled Loebenstein. “I’m really happy I made the choice. LCW has been amazing,”
She was a political science honors major and, together with co-founder and fellow LCW student Rivka Arno, launched LCW’s student newspaper, The Lander College Update. In the summer of 2016, she took a general internship with Kevin Faulconer, the mayor of San Diego. (“I was a bit star struck when I met him,” said Loebenstein.)
In the fall of 2017, Loebenstein earned a prestigious internship with Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s Office of Digital Strategy in the data analytics team. While there, she was part of the team that was in charge of digital strategy for the Mayor’s office, which oversees 73 departments and agencies. “Mayor DeBlasio is like the president of a small country,” laughed Loebenstein.
Her final project with the office was developing automated responses for the various city agencies.
“I did a lot of research on what the social media presence is of other cities, like Toronto and San Francisco. I worked with the data analytics team and I pitched what I thought would be the best plan for the city government with social media,” stated Loebenstein. “It’s exciting since what they did was based on my research.”
Though the internship was only supposed to be six months, the mayor’s office asked her to stay on for an extra half-year. Most automated responses from city agencies are a result of Loebenstein’s work.
Loebenstein finished her final course in January and is mounting a defense for her honors thesis on the effect of digital campaigning on voter turnout. It is a personal project for her.
“Being behind the scenes sparked my interest about how politicians do outreach through social media,” she said. “It’s something I have hands-on experience with.”
Loebenstein is currently the breaking news editor at College Media Network, a user-generated news site that launched several weeks ago. The site aims to be the news network for students and Loebenstein plans to enter the world of journalism.
“I’m really interested in helping people,” said Loebenstein. “Journalism and politics—especially city politics—are very similar: It’s bringing relevant information to people to help them make decisions on issues they care about. Both involve public service: you bring light to issues that would otherwise be in the dark.”