Ailsa Chang

Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who covers criminal justice, terrorism and the courts for WNYC. She found her way into public radio after practicing law for five years, and can definitely say that walking the streets of New York City with a microphone is a lot more fun than being holed up in the office writing letters to opposing counsel.

Since joining WNYC in 2009, Chang has earned national recognition for her investigative reporting.  In 2012, she was honored with the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton, one of the highest awards in broadcast journalism, for her two-part investigative series on allegations of illegal searches and unlawful marijuana arrests by the New York City Police Department.  The reports also earned an honor from Investigative Reporters and Editors.

Chang has investigated how Detroit's broken public defender system leaves the poor with lawyers who are often too underpaid and overworked to provide adequate defense.  For that story, Chang won the 2010 Daniel Schorr Journalism Award, a National Headliner Award and an honor from Investigative Reporters and Editors.  

In 2011, the New York State Associated Press Broadcasters Association named Chang as the winner of the Art Athens Award for General Excellence in Individual Reporting for radio.  She has also appeared as a guest on PBS NewsHour and other television programs for her legal reporting.

Chang received her bachelor's degree in public policy from Stanford University, her law degree from Stanford Law School, a Masters degree in journalism from Columbia University and a Masters degree in media law from Oxford University where she was a U.S. Fulbright Scholar.

She was also a law clerk to Judge John T. Noonan, Jr. on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Before her arrival at WNYC, Chang was a Kroc Fellow for National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. and a reporter for KQED public radio in San Francisco.  She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Ailsa Chang appears in the following:

Reactions from Times Square to Bin Laden's Death

Monday, May 02, 2011

Ailsa Chang, reporter for our flagship station WNYC, talks to us about what the scene is like in Times Square this morning, following the news that U.S. forces have killed Osama Bin Laden. 


Faisal Shahzad Pleads Guilty to 10 Terror-Related Charges

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-born American citizen who attempted to blow up a car in Times Square, pleaded guilty yesterday to ten terror-related charges. “I want to plead guilty 100 times over,” said Shahzad in Manhattan federal court. He went on to describe his training in Pakistan and the events leading up to the attempted bombing.

We talk with WNYC reporter Ailsa Chang, who was in the courtroom.


Latest on Investigation and Interrogation of Faisal Shahzad

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The question everybody is asking this week has been, who is 30-year-old Faisal Shahzad, the man held and accused of placing a car bomb in New York's Times Square over the weekend? After two days of intense interrogation efforts, news continues to trickle in about the motives and connections behind the attempted attack.

Comments [5]

Alleged Bomber to Arrive at New York Courthouse

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

WNYC reporter Ailsa Chang is at the Manhattan federal courthouse where the alleged Times Square bomb suspect, Faisal Shahzad is expected to arrive. The courthouse is mobbed with news cameras all waiting for his arrival.


Yankee Stadium Falls Short of Neighborhood Promises

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Baseball's World Series is set to kick off tonight, pitting the New York Yankees against the Philadelphia Phillies. The first two games of the World Series will be played in the new Yankee Stadium — a hulking white structure that opened in the Bronx in April 2009. The modern stadium was built at a cost of over $850 million, including taxpayers' money, and came with the promise of improving the low-income neighborhoods surrounding the ballpark. We speak to Ailsa Chang, reporter with WNYC, for a look at whether the new stadium is living up to that promise.

Comments [1]

Re-Making Times Square

Monday, May 25, 2009

One of the most famously congested and crowded spots in the world is Times Square in New York City. Starting today, segments of its main thoroughfare, Broadway, will be closed to cars. In their place will be more room for pedestrians, and even cafe tables and chairs. The city says the plan will actually relieve traffic congestion. Transportation writer Matt Dellinger joins The Takeaway with a look at why New York is taking this step, and what it might mean for cities around the U.S.


Stormy Weather? Predictions for the Hurricane Season

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Atlantic hurricane season starts June 1st, with forecasters predicting a near-normal hurricane season. Statistically speaking, "normal" translates into a 70 percent chance of four to seven hurricanes occurring, including as many as three major ones. For a closer look at what hurricane season means for those people who live in a storm's path, we check in with Mark Schleifstein, the environmental reporter for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans and Terry Coleman, a tugboat captain and a lifetime resident of New Orleans.


A Long Way From Home: The Pirate's Day In Court

Thursday, May 21, 2009

After the U.S. Navy rescued the captain of the Maersk Alabama (he was being held hostage by Somali pirates), one lone pirate survived. The teenager, Abduhl Wali-i-Musi, is being indicted this week on ten counts including piracy and kidnapping. He has been in a Manhattan jail since he was captured on April 12 and flown to the U.S. His arraignment is today. Joining The Takeaway to talk about the first piracy prosecution in the U.S. in more than a century is Ron Kuby. He’s a criminal defense lawyer who’s been consulting on the case on behalf of the defendant’s parents. He is also the host of "Doing Time with Ron Kuby," a talk show on Air America Radio.


Adam! Kris! Squeeee! It's the American Idol Finale.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Adam or Kris? Adam or Kris? That was the question dividing Americans as they chose their American Idol. Adam Lambert, or Glambert as he is known in among fans, is a black nail-polished, guyliner-wearing rocker with a much-rumored-about sexual orientation. His competition? Kris Allen, a sweet crooner from a small town in Arkansas. He's married and an evangelical Christian who plays his own instruments. It's a cultural death match playing out on millions of television sets. Helping us pick sides is Angel Cohn, the senior editor of Television Without Pity.

See the stiff competition for yourself. Here's one of Kris Allen's performances:

And here's Adam Lambert:


Traffic Jam: How to Reduce Congestion

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

By 2050, there will be 130 million more people in the country, relying on an increasingly aging and inadequate transportation system. The stimulus money is supposed to help— tens of billions of dollars are slated to revitalize states' infrastructure. But how should that money be spent in order to actually reduce congestion? Joining The Takeaway is Miles O’Brien. He's a correspondent for Blueprint America and has just finished a documentary called Road to the Future, which looks at how Denver, Portland, Ore., and New York City are rethinking transit.

Comments [1]

Invest Like A Woman

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Warren Buffett invests like a girl. He’s patient and does thorough research. He doesn’t take huge risks. He waits for the right price to buy, and he hold onto stock a long time. All of which, according to a survey of financial analysts and investment advisers, is generally how women investors behave. The study found that women felt it was much more important than men did to avoid incurring large losses, falling below a target rate of return or acting on incomplete information. In short, women are more risk-averse than men. And that can make them better investors than men. The study found that women’s portfolios gained 1.4% more than men’s portfolios did. (Single women did even better than single men, with 2.3% greater gains.) Now that the economy is showing some faint signs of recovery and many of us might be considering jumping back into the market, we turn to Dr. Ellen Peters, a psychologist from the University of Oregon, who was involved in the original study, for some ideas on what investment strategies will work for everyone.


California, Here We Come: New Fuel Standards

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Obama administration is expected to announce new national standards for car emissions and mileage today. The standards are expected to be comparable to the standards California sought, but were delayed by the Bush administration. Under the new standards, new cars and light trucks will have to get 35 miles per gallon by 2016. This will drive up the price of new cars, but drivers may recoup some of that money through savings on gas. Automakers aren't expected to challenge the new rules — but will the new standards help reduce demand for gas or change driver behavior? Joining The Takeaway to debate the new standards are Lisa Margonelli, fellow at the New America Foundation and author of Oil On the Brain: Petroleum's Long Strange Trip to Your Tank and Robert Farago, publisher of the blog The Truth About Cars.
"CAFE doesn't work. It hasn't worked. It will never work. There are too many loopholes now. There will be just as many in the future. The only way to get American's to use less gas is the way that's been proven, and that's to raise gas prices."
—Robert Farago of the blog The Truth About Cars on CAFE standards

Comments [6]

Ending the War On Drugs

Friday, May 15, 2009

President Nixon coined the term "war on drugs" in 1969, and began fighting the problem of drug use with arrests and prison time. Since then every administration has more or less done the same. In what may be a major shift, though, the Obama administration’s new drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, says he wants to get rid of the term "war on drugs" altogether, and focus more on treatment instead. To discuss the implications of this possible policy shift is Glenn Greenwald, a columnist for and he just wrote a Cato Institute-funded study, Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies, published last month.

Comments [1]

New H1N1 Warnings For Pregnant Women

Thursday, May 14, 2009

H1N1, commonly known as “swine flu," has now been found in 45 states in the U.S., with over 3,300 confirmed cases across the nation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this week that pregnant women should be treated with Tamiflu, even though the drug isn't normally recommended during pregnancy, because of the risks that the virus poses. One of the three H1N1-related deaths in the U.S. was a pregnant woman in Texas. Tim Uyecki joins us to talk about sensible protections. He’s a medical epidemiologist at the CDC who’s been shaping the center's guidelines for vulnerable populations like pregnant women and young kids.
"All the interest has died down, but this virus has not gone away. It's a new virus. It appears most people are highly susceptible."
—Tim Uyeki of the CDC on swine flu
For more of The Takeaway's coverage of H1N1, click here.

Other Flu Resources
Map: State-by-state swine flu infections (The Takeaway)
Read and listen to more about swine flu (The Takeaway)
Times Topics: Swine Flu (The New York Times)
Q&A: Swine Influenza and You (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Understanding Swine Flu (The New York Times)
Key Facts (CDC)
Swine Flu (CDC)
Swine Flu Alert Map (
Consults Blog (The New York Times)
Follow CDCemergency on Twitter


Secret Intel: Pakistan's New Era in Drone Warfare

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The LA Times reported this week that the U.S. and Pakistan are beginning a new joint operation that allows Pakistan to get substantial control over U.S. drone targets, flight routes, and air strikes. The U.S. military disputed many of those claims but conceded that for the first time, it's providing Pakistan with a broad array of surveillance information collected by American drones flying along Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Is this a new era of military cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan? Will it last? To help answer these questions, The Takeaway is joined byChristine Fair, senior political scientist for the RAND Corporation.
"We have this idea that it's only the sophisticated Americans that have this technology, but the reality is anyone can stick a camera on a plane and then do something bad with that information."
—Christine Fair, senior political scientist for RAND corporation, on drone technology