The Importance of Local Journalism: Interview with Ana Faguy
By: Emily Wang
“Being informed and keeping up to date with what was happening was always something that was a priority for me”- Ana Faguy
Ana Faguy is a journalist for the Baltimore Sun with a focus on local government, specifically the Howard County government. She graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in 2019 in Philadelphia and joined Baltimore Sun Media shortly after. Previously, she had reported for Maryland Matters and NBC News with Lester Holt.
Faguy’s exposure to the journalism industry started at a very young age; in her home, the news was always running in the background. “Being informed and keeping up to date with what was happening was always something that was a priority for me,” she says. In high school, she struggled to find something she really enjoyed, but through her high school newspaper, she was able to explore journalism more. She ended up reporting with the school newspaper for 3 years. Taking a liking to it, she continued this throughout her undergraduate education, eventually serving as editor-in-chief for two years.
Through her time working on the school newspaper, Faguy realized how fulfilling a career in journalism would be for her: this field required interactions with people, a compilation of new information, and investigations. “[Journalism] would be the perfect culmination of all of these skills I have, all these things I’m interested in doing,” she recaps. Her favorite part about her job is piecing together all of the information she gathered to construct the story in the most effective way
A challenge that Faguy faced was the transition between college and the workforce; the leap between the role of editor-in-chief to a rookie journalist was a tough adjustment to make. Instead of making decisions, she needed to follow orders made from her superiors and be extra cautious with her actions to avoid anything that could hurt her future. Of course, working at a large company also presented a different environment in comparison to one of a school newspaper.
Nonetheless, Faguy has had quite a couple of fascinating stories throughout her career. In February of this year, she was able to interview Gordon Ramsay while he was in Ellicott City filming a show. “I don’t even know how it happened,” she recalls fondly. It all started due to the Howard County government closing a couple of roads due to Ramsay’s arrival. Faguy went to investigate, and over the week, she was able to collect more information for her story.
Eventually, she caught wind that Ramsay would be hosting a mini cooking competition at a casino in Baltimore, and she was able to sit down for a 20-minute interview with him. More recently, she interviewed 3 Maryland nurses who had gone to New York City to help fight the pandemic on the front lines. One of the nurses who grew up and started her career in NYC was placed in a hospital right across the street from her old house. This was a stark contrast to one of the other nurses who had never been to the city but always wanted to go.
Unlike the nurses she interviewed, the COVID-19 pandemic caused many changes in Faguy's day-to-day schedule. Before, she worked in an office setting and would travel to Howard County every day; now, she rarely leaves her house. Before, her main focus was covering the local government and other events pertaining to the county; now, all of her stories are told through a COVID-19 pandemic lens.
Nevertheless, the pandemic has brought about some changes that Faguy believes will be beneficial in the long run. The limitations brought on by this challenge have forced companies to become more flexible with the schedules of their employees. “[Remote reporting] doesn’t make [a] story any less important if I tell it from my desk at home,” she states.
In addition to the pandemic, 2020 is also a presidential election year. Because of her focus on local government, Faguy has not had to make major shifts in her reporting due to the upcoming election, but nonetheless, one cannot escape news about the election. Faguy has reported more on the physical challenges that this election is facing in Howard County, like the shortage of election judges.
All of these stories combine to shape Faguy’s love for local journalism. In school, she had aspirations to be a congressional reporter; however, entering the professional field shifted her passion to local journalism. “I really like original storytelling,” she says. “I don’t want to be writing the same story that 25 other people are writing.” She wants to shift the narrative of journalism to everyday issues that average citizens face, as well as how policies and current events affect the general population. She values the human interaction and the bustle of gathering local information over being a single journalist in a crowd of reporters scrambling to cover the same person or issue. In her future, Faguy wants to continue working in local journalism for some time as well as branch out into international journalism, although she is not sure when that opportunity will present itself in her career.
As a recent college graduate, Faguy’s main piece of advice for prospective journalists is to gain as much experience as possible. “The first thing people are going to ask you… when you apply for journalism jobs… [are] 5 clips… and then they’re going to ask you to explain the storytelling behind them.” For most students, the easiest way to gain this experience is through a school newspaper, but of course, opportunities are not limited to that.
It is also essential to have a good mindset when approaching new stories. She advises students to never think they are above a story; “[journalists] are supposed to be telling stories about and for people,” she explains. Empathy is also an important trait to have as a journalist. No matter how frustrating the job gets, “before I am a journalist, before anyone is, they are a human being, and that is who someone is talking to.” Especially during this era of fake news and mistrust in the press, it is important to bring the human aspect to the table. Her last tip is to not overlook sources who do not have institutional power; “my best sources are people who work within systems, who are in the lowest of levels in those systems. They hear everything, they see everything. They may not have decision-making power, but they’re still there,” she explains.
Even though Faguy is not far into her career, her experiences and vision speak for themselves. Journalism is not about the company name or position on your business card, but about interacting with people and sharing their stories.