2012 State of the Association Address by AAJA President Truong

The 2012 AAJA Advisory Board (and a few stand-ins). [Photo by Joe Nguyen]

This is the text of an address prepared by AAJA National President Doris Truong for the AAJA General Membership Meeting on Aug. 2, 2012, at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas:

Thank you to each of you for being here today.

To paraphrase another president, one whose last name starts with O, the state of our association is strong.

I’m pleased to inform you that after holding steady at 1,400 members for several years, AAJA’s ranks have grown to more than 1,600 — and we have the most Platinum members ever. For anyone who isn’t aware of the Platinum membership, not only are you digging deeper to support AAJA, you are getting greater returns: One of the biggest benefits is that the convention registration is included in your $750 dues. Our Membership Services Director, Antonio Salas, can work with you to set up an installment plan — it’s how I can afford to be a Platinum member. I would love to see 2013 set a new record for AAJA membership, especially at the Platinum level.

For those of you who arrived yesterday to participate in the half-day or day-long training, you have a sense of how much this year’s program is focused on helping you be a better journalist. We’re not all working in expansive newsrooms anymore. Many more people are backpack journalists or expected to be, and AAJA is helping you to succeed by giving you tools for that backpack. Be sure to check out sessions planned on data visualization, creating your own maps and being healthy on deadline.

The 60-plus programs on this week’s schedule are thanks in large part to the months of hard work by UNITY’s two programming co-chairs, who were chosen from AAJA and NAHJ. We are fortunate that veteran convention programmer Paul Cheung was able to take on this time-intensive role, and he had strong support from Ted Kim — our secretary — and Victoria Lim, who represents Florida on our Advisory Board. Let’s give a round of applause to the three of them for their tireless work to line up the best possible training with top-notch presenters.

As I mentioned at yesterday’s opening, AAJA has fully updated our “Handbook to Covering Asian America.” It’s at AAJA.org. In the coming months, we will improve search functions and add links, but this resource is ready for distribution now. Special thanks go to Tony Ramirez, who did the heavy lifting on the original handbook in 2000. Tony, Maya Blackmun and SAJA’s Prabha Natarajan did the bulk of the revisions, so we are all in their debt.  I will be assembling an ad-hoc group to review requests for  further revisions. Please let me know of people who can help, especially those with Asian American studies backgrounds or extensive editing experience.

We are continuing to fundraise for the Power of One. During the convention, be on the lookout for our AAJA Men of Broadcast, who will be selling our calendar at the greatly reduced rate of only $5. Get yours autographed, not just by cover boy George Kiriyama but by former VPs of Broadcast Randall Yip and Stanton Tang, and by our young guns Archith Seshadri, Shawn Chitnis, Chris Jose and Chris Nguyen. And be sure to look for Mr. April, Brian Tong (the “Asian Usher”), at tomorrow’s karaoke night. Plus, former National President Lloyd LaCuesta is here to sign calendars, too.

Speaking of karaoke, this year will be the inaugural UNITY Idol competition. We will have a trophy for the winner, but more important, all the funds raised help AAJA.

We are just getting started on our time together for the UNITY convention, but be sure to mark your calendars for Aug. 21-24, 2013, when Brooke Camp and Michelle Yu will co-chair AAJA’s national convention in New York City. It will be the first time we will be in the Big Apple since 2000, and we are excited to be in the heart of the action at the Hilton in Midtown.

AAJA is committed to our core programs, which build a pipeline for career journalists. This summer, our JCamp for high-schoolers graduated its 12th class, and we now have more than 500 JCamp alumni. Be sure to check out the JCamp blog: jcamplive.aaja.org. We also had a successful relaunch of our Executive Leadership Program under the direction of Bob Der and Justin Tejada, who are keeping true to ELP founder Dinah Eng’s vision but incorporating new elements in our signature professional training program.

And remember that when I was elected in 2010 I pledged to visit all of our chapters? I am 90 percent of the way through my tour of AAJA Nation. My final two visits will be Minnesota and Texas this fall. It has been a remarkable journey, getting to see each of our chapters in person. And I hope that you have felt supported during my administration. I will continue to be at your service as president through the end of 2012, so please let me know if you want to schedule time to talk about how AAJA can better serve your needs.

[Photo of Doris Truong by