NPR Reporter Interview

Meredith Howard, Co-Editor

The Lamp conducted a phone interview about the Capital Gazette shooting and the media’s current opinion on journalism with Sasha Ingber, a reporter on NPR’s breaking news desk.


What was your initial reaction when you heard about the attack on the Capital Gazette?


Sasha Ingber: “I was sitting at NPR when I found out about the incident, and it was surprising and incredibly sad to think about people who were working in the same industry as myself, whose lives were forever changed.”


Have you ever personally been threatened by anybody who wasn’t happy with something you published?


Ingber: “I’ve received some negative emails, and certainly been criticized, but no one has ever threatened me personally for the work that I’ve done. There have been times where I have been on assignment and I have been called ‘fake news’, but I never really had to fear for my life, as a journalist while reporting in the United States.”


Has there ever been an article that you were cautious to publish because of fear of backlash?


Ingber: “Well, I think that any time you publish something, you have to be skeptical of the information that you’re getting, and make sure that you really know what you’re about to    publish…at the end of the day you have to feel that it’s worth it to put out whatever it is that you’re writing. I think that some stories can be more sensitive than others, but maybe that’s because you know that it’s an incredibly controversial issue. Because I have written for mostly national publications, in a way, my job is easier because I’m writing about people who aren’t necessarily in my community, and people who are already public figures. So they wouldn’t necessarily be angry at me, whereas the journalists at the Capital who were attacked had written a negative article about someone who took issue with it in the community.”


Has the attack on the Capital Gazette made you more wary to anger people by writing something controversial?


Ingber: “I think that it’s important to remember why journalists get into this industry, we do it because we care about bringing awareness toward what’s going on in the world, in our country, in our states, on a local level, so if we let ourselves be dominated by fear, then we can’t really

do the job. I wouldn’t let fear stop me from writing whatever needs to be written. And I feel like a lot of other journalists that I know, a lot of my friends who are also journalists, none of us would stop ourselves, we wouldn’t self censor because we know that that does a disservice to journalism.


How do you think the public currently views the media?


Ingber: “I can’t say that I know the numbers, if people trust journalism more now or if they’re more skeptical, but I do feel a sentiment, some sort of general atmosphere where certain media outlets are being targeted and called fake news when they are reporting information that has grounding in reality. And it’s a strange feeling, because I think that journalism is so important to democracy, and if you look at countries where there is no free press, countries like Turkey, countries like Russia, Venezuela, Iran, part of the problem is that people don’t have access to true, reliable information. So to hear people repeat these opinions of how so much of what is said is fake, it’s disheartening.”


Do you have any other comments to make?


“I try to go in with a fresh mind when I report on something, and I try to find the right sources to speak to, the people who know most about the topic at hand, and I try to have facts and documentation to really bolster whatever it is that I’m reporting; I’m not going in with an agenda. I think it’s important that people understand that we aren’t going in with a theory, we’re trying to understand what happened and then report on that. I appreciate journalists who do their job. I was reading today that the United States is now one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, and that’s because of the Capital Gazette shooting. It’s incredibly sad to think about that, as another person who’s from the United States, I think that it doesn’t seem like we would be on par with Afghanistan or Syria. And it’s incredibly important to keep journalism alive.”