Local Voice Goes Live

by Ariana Bhargava and Sanjana Deshpande , Features Reporter and Features Editor
photo contributed by Ashan Singh

Ever since spending late hours in South’s halls printing the newest issues of Denebola,  ‘11 graduate Ashan Singh has had a passion for journalism. Now, as a multi-platform reporter for ABC’s “Nightline”, Singh travels the world to deliver the news and tell stories on national television and online news sources. He has interviewed celebrities like Lil Nas X and traveled to Ukraine to cover the ongoing crisis.

After just their first meeting, Singh’s passion was clear to Donna Segal, his guidance counselor at South. She said that throughout his time at South he continuously worked to achieve his goals.

“From the minute I met him, I knew he was going to do great things here,” she said. “He had an unusual energy, and he was more mature than the average freshman. He actually had a vision for what he wanted to accomplish during high school, and that became very clear in the roles that he assumed at South.”

Singh, who worked as a managing editor of Denebola, said he is grateful for the unique journalistic opportunities available to him at South.

“The newspaper culture at South … it just doesn’t exist anywhere else, and that was a super exciting thing to be a part of, especially that rush of trying to get the paper to print,” he said. 

After graduating from Tulane University, where he studied international relations and development, Singh moved to New York City and took a job at a law firm .

“It was 2015, and I was working at a law firm in the communication department in Midtown, and I just realized I needed to be a part of something more. I didn’t really want to just be at a pencil pushing job,” he said. “I wanted to be doing some sort of storytelling.”

Singh began applying to various entry-level jobs in journalism. He secured a meeting with an executive producer at ABC from just a cold email and became a production assistant for ABC’s “Nightline” show. Over several years, he worked his way up the production route and eventually landed his current job.

Although he had not planned to pursue his passion for journalism, Singh said that he was thrilled to join a field that is so crucial in today’s world. 

“Journalism has been attacked in really dark ways, whether it be from political administrations in this country or abroad. There are conscious efforts to not just blur the truth, but deflect from the truth, and that’s when ignorance runs rampant, when corruption happens, when everything goes wrong. It’s when someone is not out there to tell the truth, and that is our responsibility as journalists,” he said.

 “Freedom dies when there is no journalism. It’s imperative to a functioning, modern and free thinking society.”

Singh said that he works to highlight honest pieces of journalism on “Nightline”. Examples of his work include articles about the recent Buffalo shooting and interviews with often-forgotten groups such as the Hmong community during gymnast Sunisa Lee’s Olympic experience.

Singh said that being a reporter for “Nightline” and journalism as a whole has enabled him to understand the motives and beliefs of others better.

“What I love about doing these long-form stories for ‘Nightline’ is that you get to understand not just what’s going on but why it’s going on and why this person thinks this way. To be able to dissect that and help each other see each other is such an important part of journalism and creating an understanding,” he said. 

Segal said that Singh’s career in journalism aligns with the values she knew him to hold.

“He was truly relational. His true gift was his ability to connect with people, and I could feel that and see that in every interaction that I observed with him, whether it be with younger kids when he was mentoring them, or just in the way that he spoke to his teachers,” she said. 

“He had a real interest in people that went beyond what was being studied in class or what the topic of the day was, so I’m not surprised that he landed in the world of journalism. It just fits him.”

As Singh continues his work for ABC, he said he is conscious of the role he plays in the ongoing discussions about representation in the broadcasting world.

“It’s a huge privilege that I get to do this, and I don’t think anybody in a similar position, especially from minority communities, takes it lightly,” he said. “Now’s our time to get our seat at the table and force these conversations about representation and force our faces.”

To aspiring journalists, Singh said it is important to continue to create and tell stories that invoke personal passion, which is essential to personal growth. 

“If [journalism] interests you and you want to tell stories, now it goes beyond being able to do traditional broadcasting. For your generation, you have so many tools at your disposal that you should just be making. You should just be creating, and that way you find your voice, your style and the things that drive you.”