AAJA 2014 Mid -Year Report

A special thanks to our Platinum and Gold level chapter presidents and board members for their additional support of AAJA. Our goal is to end 2014 with 2,000 members.

Governance & Finance 

2014 Convention
Overall attendance was 954. A special thank you to convention co-chairs Seung Min Kim and Sherri Ly and the Washington D.C. chapter for their hospitality and leadership.

2015 Convention
Will be held in San Francisco’s Hyatt Regency Embarcadero from Aug. 12 to Aug. 15. Room rate will be $259 per night including wifi but we will have a special deal of $220 including wifi for first 150 rooms booked.

Power of One
As of Aug. 22, we are $2,000 short from our $15,000 goal. We will contribute any amount over our $15,000 goal towards the endowment.

Board Restructure
The Governing Board has been working this year on restructuring AAJA’s leadership structure, which kicked off with resounding support from members. For months, we have worked to gather and incorporate input from members to reshape AAJA to make sure the organization is positioned for stability amid a quickly-changing media landscape. The purpose of the governance restructure is to help AAJA better serve our members and carry out the organization’s mission, regardless of what platform, device or other advances emerge in our field.

The Governing Board has gotten feedback on a restructure proposal that allows us to adopt the new structure in a timely manner, without disrupting the existing election timeline for officer positions. The Advisory Board, Governing Board and Chapter Presidents discuss the final proposal during the convention. Final details will be available later in the year.

Journalism Programs

J Camp
JCamp took place at Emerson College in Boston from July 29 to Aug. 3. We received a record number of 320 applications. Forty-two students participated in the six-day program, led by co-directors Neal Justin, Clea Benson and Lorene Yue. Visit http://jcamplive.aaja.org/ for a sample of student’s work.

13 participants attended ELP this year hosted at Gannett’s headquarter in McLean, Va, from June 18 to 21. See their review http://www.aaja.org/2014-dinah-eng-leadership-fellows-reflect-on-elp/.

ELP will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year. Instead of hosting a traditional ELP, AAJA will be planning an ELP summit. The summit will be built around a team-building experience that results in tangible project ideas, designed to further innovation in the media industry and deepen the leadership/entrepreneurial skills of summit participants. Former ELP director Dinah Eng will partner with current directors Bob Der and Justin Tejada to plan the summit. There will be a planning meeting in September during the ONA conference to plan details of the summit.

Finally, Bob Der and Justin Tejada will be resigning as ELP directors effective Sept. 31, 2015. We thank Bob and Justin for their contribution to ELP. AAJA will conduct a national search for new ELP directors in 2015.

The Voices multimedia project is focused on leadership development for college students aspiring to be journalists and mid-career professional mentors. Now in its 24th year, the program sponsored 16 college students and 13 volunteer faculty from around the nation.

The program has also aided from senior advisors such as former directors and retired journalists. The program has continued its meal sponsorships to link executive recruiters and top management with students in order to enhance the students’ networking experience and defray costs of the program.

Corporate grants from media companies, chapter sponsorships and the exchange of advertising in Voices for sponsors has built up the bulk of Voices’ funds for this year. The publication was printed courtesy of Gannett. Additional cost-saving measures have also been in place in securing deeply-discounted group meals for the opening and closing meals. Voices also has had generous support of from AAJA chapters, individual members and employers of volunteers. Visit http://voices.aaja.org/ for a sample of student’s work.

Heartland Project
The Heartland Project has been underway in Nebraska since March. It’s a first-of-its-kind experiment to help newsrooms enhance coverage of communities of color and LGBT issues. Project reporter Bobby Caina Calvan has traveled across the state to work with newsrooms. He’s done radio pieces for the statewide NPR station, produced television reports, as well as written for newspapers and online outlets. He also serves as a resource for the Journalism Department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This fall, the university is using an advanced reporting class to partner with the project. Bobby has been also been filing “stories behind the story” on AAJA.org. http://www.aaja.org/category/programsprojects/heartland/

Community Engagement Programs

From restaurant reviews in Philly and offensive billboards in Portland to a reexamination of the Vincent Chin case in Detroit, the MediaWatch Committee continued to keep tabs on newsrooms across the country. Chapters in Philadelphia, Michigan and Portland, in particular, helped the committee remain vigilant for fair and accurate coverage of our communities. You can see some of our work at http://www.aaja.org/category/media-watch. Co-chair Bobby Calvan will be stepping down as chair by Dec. 31, 2014. We will be conducting a search for a new co-chair.

Media Institute
For the inaugural launch of Media Institute, AAJA has selected 25 non-profit and business leaders for a 1.5-day training to become better source and resource for journalists. Participants are expected to get a professional headshot, a video clip that demonstrates their expertise and a writing pitch. Kellogg Foundation is the primary sponsor of the Media Institute


2016 UNITY convention is up for debate. The board and the individual alliance will need to determine if hosting a UNITY convention will make the best business sense. In the meantime, UNITY is strategizing based on feedback from the spring diversity summit. One of the outcome was the UNITY fellowship. Melanie Balakit, the UNITY fellow, has already completed the NAJA, NAHJ, NABJ, AAJA and NLGJA student projects. See Melanie’s collection of stories http://unityjournalists.org/reportingfellow2014/

Thank you
Much of 2014’s success will be determined by our collective wisdom and passion. Each one of us has the ability to move AAJA forward. Thank you for joining us in this journey.

Contact me anytime with questions or suggestions at pcheung@aaja.org or call 917.402.5756

Paul Cheung
AAJA President