Student Spotlight: Estefania Rodriguez interviews high-profile subject with ‘Crooked Power’ hosts

Before “Crooked Power” hosts Cesar Perez and Maya Fawaz interviewed an important source for their podcast, they decided to extend an invitation to Estefania Rodriguez to join them. 

Rodriguez, a senior who studies journalism, Latin American studies and international relations, joined the “Crooked Power” student podcast team in September, eager to dive deeper into a story about press freedom in Latin America as well as practice her Spanish. Throughout the semester, she’s proven to be a key member of the team.

Along with the other “Crooked Power” capstone students, Rodriguez helps write scenes for the podcast scripts and draft questions for upcoming interviews. Although she’s familiar with traditional reporting, Rodriguez has never written a podcast script.

“This is a lot more like descriptive storytelling; a lot more subjective, too,” Rodriguez said. “It’s really weird having to go from writing your lead, your inverted pyramid to just spending a whole paragraph talking about the scene and trying to paint the picture in the mind of the audience.”

Due to Rodriguez’s high work ethic and investment in the story, Perez and Fawaz wanted Rodriguez to be a part of one of their most high-profile interviews yet. (To find out who the mystery source is, listen to “Crooked Power” when it airs September 2021.) The hosts extended the invitation and Rodriguez gladly accepted.

“Estefania is really invested in the story, and I think that speaks to her interest in politics,” Perez said. “I believe Estefania always asks important, pressing questions.”

With Perez still in Ecuador, the interview took place via Zoom. Even though Rodriguez speaks Spanish, she felt nervous she would somehow trip on her words. Added pressure came from the source’s status. After all, this wasn’t her everyday interview. The subject wasn’t a household name, but they were still reputable. She had to get this right.

But when the interview subject appeared, a calm washed over her. It was game time.

“I know this subject. I know what I’m talking about,” Rodriguez said. “I’m going to get through this. And it was very surreal.”

Rodriguez will continue working with Perez and Fawaz until the end of the semester. Even with this major interview done, she’ll still provide her talent for reporting and insight.

“She is innately a curious person and makes us question things and dig deeper into a story we already know,” Fawaz said.