AAJA 2014 Spring Report


If 2013 was about igniting change, 2014 will be about the implementation of changes. We experimented with new ideas and programs at our 2013 convention and will continue to make more additions. We re-examined the value of an AAJA membership and our board structure and we will start a roadmap to implement key governance changes. We reorganized our national office to better meet tomorrow’s demands and will continue to execute our reorganization plans. We launched new programs and partnerships. We will develop those programs further so that we can tap into new sources of funding and bring different areas of expertise into our fold.

This is the year AAJA must take our brand to the next level. I believe AAJA’s brand is a manifestation of expression, experiences, and/or potential services that speak to what our brand is trying to convey to all its stakeholders. Brand is not just an identity that people associate with an organization, but rather it’s really about the ecosystem (expression, experiences, and/or services) that surrounds it.

Our Goals in 2014

2014 Goal 2013
Membership 2,000 1,700
Gold Members 200 163
Platinum Members 25 20
Power of One Donation $25,000 $23,000
Convention 1,500 participants 1,300 participants


2014 Convention

The convention co-chairs and the programming co-chairs will update the board in person on March 16, but here are some highlights:

  • Registrations: The deadline for early bird registration will be April 15th. Early bird rates are $250 for professional members and $100 for student members. Log in to register today!
  • Programming: Yvonne Leow, AAJA’s VP of Print, and Emma Carew from our DC chapter, are the programming co-chairs. The programming committee is working to continue the success of last year’s dynamic programming for the convention. Instead of panels of talking heads, the committee will be offering a variety of interactive talks from high-profile speakers to hands-on workshops. We will also partner up with different organizations like IRE, Columbia and George Washington University on a variety of full-day boot camps.
  • Silent Auction: Silent Auction will get a make over this year. An online auction will be open to the general public and a subset of those items will be available onsite for convention attendees.
  • Keynote speakers: Securing keynote speakers are currently in progress. We are working with the DC chapter to secure a diverse set of speakers from political figures to industry innovators.
  • Recruitment: Building on last year’s success, the national office will offer sponsors the opportunity to upgrade to our recruiting “plus” package. The package allows members to submit resumes to three participating companies in advance of the convention. If there is a match, a one-on-one meeting will be facilitated. 

Signature Programs

MediaWatch (Chair Bobby Calvan) The MediaWatch Committee, comprised of nine dedicated colleagues from coast to coast, continued its important work of monitoring the news media. The committee has taken the lead on several incidents over the past few months, including ESPN’s unfortunate translation mistake (“Wanda Wrection”), the New York Post’s offensive front-page cover featuring a Japanese warplane, and a CNBC host’s ill-advised remarks about Indian Americans.

More importantly, individual chapters have contributed in major ways in AAJA’s mission to monitor their local news media for fair and accurate coverage of our communities.

  • The San Francisco Chapter continues to work with KTVU in making good on the television station’s vow to make amends for last year’s embarrassing on-air mockery of Asian-sounding names.
  • The Philadelphia Chapter took the lead in admonishing the Philadelphia City Paper for a restaurant review that referred to almond-eyed waitresses.
  • The Portland Chapter took on news station KXL for a billboard that sent the wrong message. The billboard’s message – “We love you long time” – was especially insensitive given its placement in the city’s Chinatown neighborhood.

The MediaWatch Committee appreciates the hard work of our colleagues across the country and in Asia to hold our newsrooms accountable to standards of fairness and decency.

For bios of the MediaWatch Committee, please visit http://www.aaja.org/about-us/mediawatch-committee/

J Camp (Co-Director Lorene Yue) – It will be held July 29 to Aug. 3 at Emerson College in Boston. This was the site of the 2009 program. George Washington University, where JCamp 2013 was held, was unable to accommodate the program at the time of this year’s convention, so the program will dovetail with NABJ’s convention. We are in the process of recruiting applicants for the 42 spots available in the program. The directors are finalizing the instructors’ list. Arelis Hernadez, JCamp graduate 2004, will return and Timmy Hyunh of JCamp 2005 will join as an instructor.

ELP (Co-Director Bob Der) The 2014 ELP Introduction session will take place at the Gannett Company headquarters in McLean, Virginia from June 18 to 21.  In 2015, AAJA will be marking its 20th anniversary with an interactive leadership summit that looks 20 years down the road at the future of media and innovation. We will explore topics that media executives today, and leaders in the field tomorrow, must consider if the industry is to meet the needs of its consumers.

The summit format 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. 

Voices (Director Ruth Liao) AAJA’s VOICES career leadership and mentoring program for college students is now in its 24th year in 2014. The project’s mission remains three-fold: providing students with career-ready skills, nurturing mentoring relationships between students and professional volunteers and exposing mid-career journalists to leadership and development opportunities.

This year, the convention’s location in Washington, DC is inspiring the project to examine the state of Asian Americans in politics and voting.  Outreach to recruit the nation’s most ambitious and talented students is now ongoing. Up to 15 students will be selected to take part.

Fundraising efforts to keep VOICES sustainable is taking place year-round. The director is soliciting opportunities from sponsors to place advertisements in the VOICES publication and online as well as working with the national office to seek in-kind and broader sponsorship partnerships.

New Initiatives

IRE & AAJA Partnership
National Office: AAJA and Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) have partnered for 2014. Both organizations are creating a unique opportunity for members of both organizations to take advantage of the training offered at three national events in 2014: IRE’s Computer-Assisted Reporting Conference in Baltimore in late February, IRE’s annual conference in San Francisco in June and the AAJA National Convention in Washington D.C. in August.  Members of each organization can use their existing membership to register for any of these events 

Ford Grant
National Office: Bobby Caina Calvan was hired as the Heartland reporter. His first day on the job at UNL was March 3rd. AAJA & NLGJA hosted a community reception to launch the project on January 9th in Omaha, NE. Approximately thirty people attended the reception. Bobby is currently meeting with local media and will be filing stories shortly.

Reporter Bobby Calvan: Bobby reports that the university is excited to host the project. In addition to producing stories, Bobby is also serving as a visiting lecturer, as the university uses Bobby and the Heartland Project as vehicles for further injecting diversity issues into its curriculum. Bobby has already spoken to several classes about the importance of including diverse voices in news stories. Journalism professors, students will be collaborating with Bobby on projects. Bobby and the University have also spent much of March reaching out to editors, publishers and other newsroom leaders to collaborate on stories.

University of Nebraska’s Gary Kebbel (Host): The College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is pleased to be part of a project that links students, professors, a professional reporter, the AAJA and NLGJA with Nebraska’s news organizations, said journalism professor Gary Kebbel. Not only do we hope to teach students how to include diversity issues in their reports, but we also hope to demonstrate to news organizations that stories about diverse people in their midst have high readership and high community value. This project will help the college strengthen its ties to the people of Nebraska while increasing the amount of information about underrepresented people.

Kellogg Grant
The Michigan Chapter kicked off a six-city Media Access Workshop tour on Saturday March 1. The full-day event drew a wide ranging audience of students, media professionals, non-profit organizations and diversity supporters. Speakers brought their fair share of view points and included: Roland Hwang, assistant attorney general for Michigan, Joe Grimm, visiting editor in residence at Michigan State, Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab Amerian News, Tack Yong Kim, publisher of the Michigan Korean Weekly, Jam Sardar, news director at WLNS Lansing, Matt Triplett, assignment manager at WDIV Detroit, Jewel Gopwani, assistant opinions editor at the Detroit Free Press, Rana Elmir, deputy director of the ACLU Michigan. Speakers were able to network one on one with audience members during breakfast and lunch. – Carolyn Chin, Michigan Chapter National Board Representative

Five other cities will follow: Chicago (4/26), Seattle (3/15), San Francisco (3/29), Atlanta (5/17), and Houston (4/26). These one day workshops will provide education on media literacy and how to write an op-ed. Dates will be announced by end of December.


AAJA’s governing board recently voted to approve Tomoko Hosaka as AAJA’s representative to the UNITY Board, replacing Sharon Chan. Tomoko is a longtime member of AAJA. She’s served on the national board representing Asia and San Francisco from 2007-2013. For the past two years, she’s also ben a She a governing board member.

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 me in this journey.

Thank you
Paul Cheung,
National President