Faces Of NPR showcases the people behind NPR–from the voices you hear every day on the radio to the ones who work outside of the recording studio. You’ll find out about what they do and what they’re inspired by on the daily. This month, we feature our Latin community for Latin Heritage Month starting with Jasmine Garsd.
Name: Jasmine Garsd
Title: Correspondent, Criminal Justice
Twitter handle: @JasGarsd
Let’s start off by telling me where you’re from.
I am from Argentina. I was raised in Argentina, in Buenos Aires. My whole family’s from there.
And what’s your official title at NPR?
I am a correspondent. I cover criminal justice and New York. And right now I’m on hiatus on an assignment, which is a bilingual podcast about soccer and immigration.
Congratulations! That’s so exciting.
So how has your experience with NPR been?
I went way back with NPR, but I started anew with NPR two years ago and it’s been really great. In my regular job as a criminal justice correspondent, I have just wonderful supervisors. And for this podcast, I have an amazing team and NPR has been just really supportive.
What are your main intentions as a journalist at NPR?
I would say to give a space to people who don’t always get to voice what they’re going through, and to tell unexpected stories that tell us about the world in a different way.
And how do you go about finding the stories?
I find that the best stories are the ones you’re really interested in, that you’re super curious about, that you just kind of can’t stop thinking about or that you’re like nerding out about, that you’re always reading about, that you’re fascinated by. I also try to build a lot of community networks, which I’ve been doing for a while here in New York.
How does your heritage and your identity intersect with your work?
A lot. I have really close ties to the Latino community. Like, I work a lot within it as a reporter. I also live in the Latino community. When I don’t go to work, I can spend most of my life speaking Spanish all day. And I also think I try to report on Latinos and Latin America in a nuanced way that shows our diversity of experiences. I hesitated a little with your first question because I’m Ukrainian Argentine, of Ukrainian ancestry. And now as I’m working on this new podcast, I’m like, this is very niche, extremely niche, I don’t know who can identify with it. But I think that people ultimately really identify with people being real about their experiences and not pandering. And so I think my own experiences as a Latina weirdo have really made me kinder and more empathetic.
You started alt. Latin with Felix, right?
What made you want to start the podcast?
So I used to work as an assistant producer and Felix was also a producer, and his cubicle was strategically close to the vending machine. So every day at around like 3 pm, you know, when you start to get the slump, I would go down and be like, I’m gonna go buy a Pop-Tart or something. And we would end up talking for half an hour about our love of music, and like rock music and hip hop. And, you know, he had so much knowledge about jazz, regional, Mexican. And at one point we were like, you know, we should start a podcast on this. I think it goes back to this idea of people responding really well to stuff that is real and from the heart. Because if we had produced this with an audience in mind, it wouldn’t have worked so well. It worked really well because we were so passionate about it and we just loved to nerd out about records. And so we just started sneaking into the studios at night and being like, “Let’s just record a show.” And it was really funny. I think Felix has some early recordings of it, and it was really, really sweet. And then, unknown to me, he submitted it to Anya Grundmann, and she was like, “Let’s try it out.” And I thought, “Okay, I guess we’re going to try this out.” And I think it worked really well because it was just very pure in its intention. We just wanted to listen to music and talk about music.
So how do you feel about the direction it’s going now?
I think Anamaria is wonderful and I’m really excited and I think she has great taste. She follows in the tradition of, she just loves music and Latin culture. And so she’s going to do a great job because she’s coming at it from her heart.
What are some of your motivators?
I like to tell really good stories. I think I grew up in a tradition of storytelling. People told me stories when I was a kid, you know, stories as a warning, stories to make me go to sleep, stories to entertain me, stories to make me laugh. Storytelling was a really big thing in my family. And so I had such a love for good storytelling. Also I consider good journalism as journalism that is a public service. Good journalism is an essential public service. And I’m always really aware of that. Like, who am I serving by this? Am I hurting anyone by doing this? Like, I think about that a lot. It’s community service.
What are your expectations for your World Cup podcast?
I think my expectations are that people who love soccer as much as I do enjoy it and learn something new. People who don’t love soccer tune in because it’s not just about soccer, it’s also about immigration and the immigrant experience. And I think people who don’t love soccer should not be intimidated by it, and should listen. And I hope that people learn something and are moved. But also, I hope that people laugh a little, because there’s a lot of humor. And I don’t get to express humor a lot in my work, because I cover criminal justice. There’s not a lot of funny going on, you know? A lot of the work I do is very grim. And that’s why I say that my supervisors are great, because they’re always like, go take a break, take a day off. But then I think people are surprised to find out I have a sense of humor. It’s like, yeah, I spend all my time at Rikers, you know, of course you didn’t know that. But it’s been really nice to be able to create something where we can tell jokes and we can laugh and I think that’s very sweet.
So how are you going to intersect soccer and immigration?
The podcast is going to tell the story of soccer, and I’m also going to be telling my own story of having left Argentina as a teenager during a very difficult time in Argentina, which was the economic collapse. And so there’s like some parallel, like we weave in the soccer stories with my own story. And we’re also talking to a lot of immigrants about their own experience of leaving home, and we’re going into some of the nuances of that.
I’m really excited to listen. What do you do at Rikers?
Well, I’m exaggerating. I don’t spend every day at Rikers, but I have covered Rikers quite a bit. Rikers, You know, there’s been a lot of human rights concerns. There’s been a lot of inmate deaths. And so one of my focuses is, I look into what is going on there and what solutions, if any, are being proposed. And, you know, it’s the public service thing. It’s important because if there’s anyone who’s pretty voiceless, it’s the families of the people who are detained. So, you know, it’s an honor to do it. And it’s also important to take breaks.
Absolutely. When you are looking for peace, what do you look for?
I exercise a lot. I jog. I run. And I love music. I collect records, and I just love sitting back and listening to good music.
Who are some people that have supported you on your journey?
Well, professionally, so many people. I’ve been really lucky. Anya Grundmann gave me two chances that are wonderful, with alt. Latin, and now with this podcast. I have had some wonderful mentors. Michel Martin has been a fantastic mentor. Gosh, so many people. Felix, the co-host of alt. Latin, he’s always been an ear, and we truly are friends off mic. I can always call him and talk to him. And, you know, I’m sure I’m forgetting people. I have my supervisor, Denice Rios. She’s so accommodating and really mindful of my mental health with, like, covering shootings and stuff. That’s so important. And I have a really great community and group of friends. I just have a wonderful community that I can come to with questions and concerns about work, you know, and really talk it through. So that’s great.
That’s good. And then my final question for you: After this podcast, what do you want to do next? Is there anything else on the horizon that you’re looking forward to?
Sleep. I want to sleep! No, I don’t know. I’m actually kind of excited about, you know, maybe going back to New York recording. I miss New York, which is funny because I’m in New York, but I’m sitting at home writing a lot, which is so much fun and it’s so great, I just put my records on and I write. But I do miss, like, going around New York and doing stories. I love that, and I love New York. So I’m looking forward to going back to that.