2013 was great but let’s make 2014 even better!

Cheung_2014Dear AAJA Members:

2013 was a great year for AAJA, and we couldn’t have done it without you. As you’ll see in the AAJA President’s 2013 Report to Members below, AAJA ended the year with more than 1,700 members; celebrated a successful 2013 National Convention with record attendance; strengthened our MediaWatch program and helped students and young professionals gain valuable journalism and leadership skills through JCamp, Voices and ELP; and more.

We hope to make 2014 even more successful. Please continue to support AAJA and its important work by renewing your membership if you haven’t already done so and considering a donation to Power of One. We also encourage you to register for the 2014 AAJA NationalConvention in Washington, D.C. while early bird rates still apply.



At a glance: AAJA had 1,739 members in 2013:

  • Full members:  907 / Gold Full: 174 / Platinum Full : 18

  • Associate: 141 / Gold Associate: 14

  • Students: 455

  • Others: 15 Retired / 6 Lifetime

A special thanks to our Platinum and Gold members for their additional support of AAJA.


2013 Convention: AAJA trained and engaged more than 1,300 attendees last year at its national convention in New York City. Some key highlights from the convention included keynote speaker Ann Curry; a new innovation alley of start-up tech companies in the exposition hall; more than 44 exhibitors/recruiting booths, and new workshops that focused on building skills for web scraping and the investigative reporting tools.

2014 ConventionEarly bird registration is now available for the 2014 AAJA National Convention that will be held Aug. 13-16 in Washington, D.C., at the Renaissance Washington Downtown. With the campaign season in full swing for midterm elections, it will be an exciting time to be in the nation’s capital.

AAJA’s hotel group rate is $174 per/night. This rate is eligible until June 1, 2014 and includes free wifi for all AAJA guest rooms. Book now and lock in your rate!


AAJA started its 2013 audit in December. Currently the national office is working with our auditors to review AAJA’s financials for the fiscal year of 2013. AAJA is continuing to identify areas of operational efficiency, opportunities to diversify funding sources and enhance our programs for our members. AAJA is projected to end 2013 with a net profit. We are waiting for a final audit to be completed before releasing final numbers.


Kellogg Foundation: In 2014, AAJA will be launching six media access workshops across the nation. These workshops will engage local communities in discussions about media literacy and provide practical advice on how to work with news organizations. These workshops will also work with community group to teach them how to amplify their voices through writing opinion pieces. Look for a media access workshop coming soon to Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, Houston, Seattle, and San Francisco.

Ford Foundation: The Asian American Journalists Association will also be working collaboratively with multiple media outlets in Nebraska beginning in 2014 as AAJA and NLGJA launches the Heartland project. AAJA and NLGJA worked this fall on assembling a diverse and award winning Advisory Board that will assist in providing guidance and expertise for the project. Look for original and in-depth coverage of Nebraska in stories that will be posted on AAJA and NLGJA’s website.


Committees are composed of national board representatives and chapter presidents

Marketing & Communications: Since the Summer Board Meeting, the committee continues to move forward with its goals.  There was significant social media activity during the 2013 NYC Convention by members and the board, with the assistance of social media intern Audrey Cheng.  The Committee wishes to thank Audrey for her service and hopes we can find ways to keep her active and involved.  Her internship ended in December 2013 and we wish to do an exit interview to ascertain ways we can improve the program, as Audrey was the first person to hold this position.  The Committee intends to work with Kathy Chow to see how we can refine the program and perhaps add a second intern position to assist with social media and communications needs for 2014.

Governance: For years, we’ve discussed the need to restructure AAJA’s governance model. After months of deliberation and research, the governing board has developed a proposal to revamp our board structure in a way that better serves our members. The goal is to maximize our resources as an organization and make AAJA more agile to adapt to changes in the industry. The proposal is by no means set in stone. It will be presented to advisory board members and chapter presidents for feedback soon. We also plan to have a town hall to hear from all members.

Membership: The Membership Committee worked with the national office to revamp the “Membership Types and Benefits” page on the aaja.org website to highlight the benefits of membership and, under the heading “Which Membership is Right for Me?”, give visitors a fuller understanding of the various membership categories. The latter now includes testimonials and headshots of members from different categories so that visitors can see where they fit into the AAJA family. The effort was headed up by Sanjay Bhatt, while Jennifer Samp coordinated collecting the testimonials. Committee members reviewed drafts of the webpage and made suggested changes. Check out the final product at http://www.aaja.org/join-aaja/ (and tweet and otherwise share this link with potential members).

The national office emailed and posted online a letter from membership committee co-chair Ken Moritsugu asking members to consider upgrading to Gold or Platinum membership. The letter laid out several reasons for being a Gold and Platinum member, both in terms of benefits and showing support for AAJA’s mission. It was reviewed by the Membership Committee members and revised based on their suggestions. See the letter here: http://www.aaja.org/go-for-gold/.

Finance: The Finance Committee continued to work on proposals to revamp the management of AAJA’s endowment, in hopes of improving the performance of the organization’s investments. The endowment is crucial to guaranteeing the organization’s long-term financial well-being, and as such the finance committee is currently investigating investment options that might produce a better return, and developing criteria to evaluate and select a financial manager. We are also finalizing a proposal that would offer accounting support from National for chapters that lack the ability or desire to manage their own books. The recently concluded chapter audit once again highlighted deficiencies in our current auditing and record submission process, which we hope to correct in 2014.

Programming: The programming committee’s goal this year is to localize learning for our members by offering online workshops. We were all impressed by the wealth of knowledge from our panelists at the convention, and we’d like to make that available for everyone. We’re going to organize an e-seminar to test the concept. Both of them will be focused on data reporting. The goal is to attract at least 25 people to attend the seminar in real-time and then make it available for everyone as an archive on our site. We may consider charging or giving member discounts later on.


MediaWatch: MediaWatch has had another eventful year, issuing a slew of advisories and admonitions in recent months. The days following the crash of Asiana Flight 214 in San Francisco were especially busy, as our team took on a Chicago Sun-Times headline, cultural reasons for the accident, and an egregious gaffe by Oakland, Calif., television station KTVU that mocked Asian names. The aggressive handling of the incident helped boost the program’s visibility.

A MediaWatch Committee is now in place, representing the diversity of our membership and industry. The committee has already gone into action, issuing a statement after offensive comments were recently made on CNBC. In the next few months, the committee will begin work on creating a database of groups and organizations that can serve as a resource and partners in the work of MediaWatch. The committee currently includes:

  • Chris Casquejo (broadaster from the Michigan Chapter)

  • Jonathan Choe (broadcaster from Minnesota)

  • Abe Kwok (online editor from Arizona)

  • Ling Woo Liu (social advocacy rep from San Francisco)

  • Harry Mok (university rep from San Francisco)

  • Zain Shauk (print reporter from Texas)

  • Sachin Shenolikar (sports magazine editor from New York)

  • Doris Truong (multiplatform editor from Washington, D.C.).

Chair Bobby Calvan is currently trying to find a new permanent lead chair for MediaWatch.

ELP: The 2013 ELP program was a great success. Close to 30 media professionals from around the country converged in New York City before the AAJA convention to learn about leadership, goal setting, and cultural values in the workplace. Speakers at this year’s ELP included David Rhodes, president of CBS News and Nik Deogun, senior vice president and editor in chief of CNBC. We heard a lot of positive feedback from this year’s participants. Many of them have already put the lessons learned in ELP to use and we are aware of two who have already received new jobs since the program concluded. Some feedback from recent graduates

The 2014 ELP program will take place in June and applications is available.

VOICES: Voices celebrated its 23rd year in New York. The program trains students and young journalists in multimedia and leadership. Both the students and the professional staff learn to write and edit in print, audio and video — producing issues in print and online. The majority of these students and staff go on to writing and editing, at such media companies as The Wall Street Journal and ESPN. This year we had students who have worked everywhere from Kenya to Japan, with internships from the BBC to ONA.

We aim to not only to train the next crop of journalists, but also to raise enough money to sustain this program. This has led to creative solutions, such as sponsored lunches with high ranking editors and recruiters from such media companies as the New York Times, Bloomberg, USA Today and The Associated Press. Bloomingdale’s, Pepsi, Pret-A-Manger and McDonald’s also donated food. And local ice cream company Ice & Vice provided gourmet ice cream for our reception. In 2014, Voices will also continue its outreach beyond media companies, such as attracting service-oriented providers like SuperShuttle.

Some feedback from recent graduates

JCamp: JCamp 2013 was held at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., June 21-26. Forty students from across the country had experiences they may never forget: A chance to visit with Bob Schieffer in the “Face the Nation” studio, hearing from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, an emotional talk with Joie Chen about diversity, a heart-to-heart with PBS’s Gwen Ifill and NPR’s Michele Norris (who both tweeted afterwards that they are committed to JCamp from here on out), a visit to the Newseum, a chance to hear from Washington Post Managing Editor Kevin Merida, and so much more.

And then there was the reaction of ASNE, our partner for the closing reception. More than 50 members of the organization got a chance to mingle with our students at the Capital Hilton. In his wrap-up letter to members, ASNE executive director Arnie Robbins included the following statement among his convention’s highlights: “We were blown away by the high school students we met at the JCamp reception. They peppered us with questions; handed out business cards; and, all in all, left us hopeful and inspired about the future of journalism.”

2013 was also special for the addition of two new faculty members. AAJA board member Bobby Calvan brought his passion for young people to the classroom and beyond. Arelis Hernandez from the Orlando Sentinel also did a tremendous job — and represents a landmark moment in the program’s history. She is a 2004 graduate of JCamp. Her addition to the staff is part of our ongoing process to make JCamp part of a “big picture” outlook, one in which JCamp doesn’t end when the students step out the door. In fact, four other former graduates joined us at the reception, including Aimee Anne, a 2011 graduate who just landed an internship that will have her at NBC”s Washington affiliate for the next four summers.

ASNE’s new board of high school advisors is made up entirely of JCamp graduates. This is the direct result of us working with them during the last JCamp. We look forward to building on that relationship as well as the one with the High School Scholastic Press Association. Neal Justin met with their board in October and we will have a presence at their convention in Boston in November.

Some feedback from recent graduates

AAJA 2014 will be hosted by Emerson College in Boston from July 29 to Aug. 3 during the NABJ convention and the application is available.

UNITY: 2013 has been a challenging year for the UNITY alliance partnership, with NAHJ’s decision to leave the alliance as well as a vacancy in the organization’s executive director position. AAJA’s National Board remains committed to UNITY’s founding mission of supporting newsroom diversity, and firmly believes in the need for an alliance that strives for this. During this past year, including at our December governing board meeting, AAJA has continued to maintain our individual relationships with former alliance members NABJ and NAHJ, as well, of course, with UNITY.

As a result of those meetings, we continue to find ways to partner with all groups. The UNITY board has also resolved outstanding financial obligations involving AAJA and the 2012 Las Vegas convention.

We look forward to the virtual Town Hall UNITY leadership plans to convene on Jan. 29 2014 at 10:30 am PT / 1:30 pm ET and encourage you to spread the word about it and also participate. Thanks to all those who have provided constructive feedback as AAJA continues to determine its next steps with UNITY.