Denver Chapter Member: Gil Asakawa

Gil Asakawa has been writer and editor since 1980 and has worked online since 1996, managing content for startups and media companies. Currently Manager of Student Media for the University of Colorado, he’s an expert on SEO and social media. Follow Gil on Twitter (@gilasakawa) and read his blog.

Q&A

What advice would you give to aspiring journalists?
My advice for young journalists and students, as well as mid-career journos: Embrace change because it’s inevitable. Technology is evolving at ever-faster cycles, and what’s standard today will be dust tomorrow. Our jobs are changing at a crazy paces, and you don’t want to be left behind. Don’t be scared of change, or of technology. Don’t belittle new platforms and ideas. Embrace change, or you won’t have a job.

How have you been involved in AAJA?
I was a founding member of AAJA Denver (along with my wife, Erin Yoshimura), and served as its second president for two years. At the national level, I have moderated or served as a panelist at AAJA conventions, and was a mentor for the Student Project at the Minneapolis convention.

What inspired you to become a journalist?
I was inspired to become a journalist by the career of Ben Fong-Torres, whom I grew up reading in Rolling Stone. When I graduated from art school with a BFA in painting, what I wanted to do was become a rock critic. I was the music editor of Denver’s alt-weekly for 11 years, during which time I began writing news articles.

Why is media diversity important to you?
Media diversity is important to all of us. It’s a focal point for almost everything I do because Asians in particular continue to be under-represented in the mainstream media, both as journalists and as subjects.

What do you love most about being Asian American?

My Asian American heritage is the focus of my blog, NikkeiView.com. Through my online commentary about Asian America, I was able to publish a book, “Being Japanese American” (Stone Bridge Press, 2004), and I’m currently editing an e-book of my early “Nikkei View” columns. I also cross-post my coverage of Denver’s AAPI communities on HuffingtonPost Denver. So as a journalist, I’m all about my ethnic heritage and cultural values.

Tell us something we may not know about you.
I was born in Japan and grew up in Japanese neighborhood but attended schools on American military bases. Our family moved to the States in the mid-’60s. I play guitar in a casual band that plays monthly tribute nights at a brewpub in Lyons, Colorado. I’m a cat person.


Learn more about other AAJA members profiled for AAPI Month.