Spring 2015 Membership Update

AAJA Nation

2015 will be about the implementation of change. We re-examined the value of an AAJA membership and our board structure and we began our roadmap to implement key governance changes. Among the main changes, the executive office has been modified to align each officer’s responsibilities to serving specific tenets of AAJA’s mission.

This ensures that AAJA’s core goals will be met regardless of how the media industry changes in the future. The new executive office structure will include the President, a Senior Vice President, a Vice President of Journalism Programs, a Vice President of Civic Engagement, a Treasurer and a Secretary. In order to ensure the variety of member interests are represented, we will be setting up affinity groups to report to the Senior Vice President. These groups will be created based on vocation or interest, and will contribute to programming, mentorships and recruitment. We are currently coming up with an application process for affinity groups.

We are awaiting final approval by the audit committee to accept the findings by the independent external audit firm of Izabal, Bernaciak & Co., CPA’s. The audit firm did not find any significant findings or encounter any difficulties in performing and completing their audit. Chapter audits are in progress. Our  finances ending calendar year 2014 are in good standing,  The investment committee will be completing an update to our current investment policy as soon as possible to move forward in maximizing our investment returns.

2015 Convention

Registrations: The deadline for early bird registration will be this Sunday.  Early bird rates are $250 for professional members and $100 for student members. We are offering a $25 discount to loyal members who has been a full membership for the last five or more consecutive years. This offer will expire after April 30. Qualified members was sent a unique code earlier this week.

Programming: The programming committee has been working hard to redesign our annual convention in San Francisco this year. We’re taking this year’s theme of create, innovate and ignite, to heart and bringing experts from all backgrounds to lead hands-on workshops (create), discuss ideas about editorial coverage and newsroom issues (innovate), and address topics that matter to the AAPI community at-large (ignite). It’s going to be different from what we’ve done in the past, but we think there’s no better place to experiment than in AAJA’s hometown. Here is a sneak peak.

A special thanks to Frank Bi, Natasha Chen, Shawn Chitnis, Ted Kim, Michelle Lee, Stephanie Lee, Wendy Lee, Yvonne Leow, Kim Moy, Dai Sugano, Martyn Williams and Alex Wong for all of their efforts so far.

Journalism Programs

ELPFor the past 20 years, AAJA has been developing industry professionals through our Executive Leadership Program. ELP will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year. Instead of hosting a traditional ELP program in the spring, AAJA will host a new concept event in Miami on November 6-8.

As we look towards the future, ELP will prepare media leaders to deal with the changing demographics of our world, and how that affects the ability to capture and reach new audiences. We will explore topics such as how leadership styles across various cultures and regions affect the success and failures of your product, and what lessons can be learned from established and emerging media markets that can be shared in this new poly-culture and cross-culture world. The event will be an invite-only conference that will help you Inspire, Imagine and Influence your career.  Finally co-directors Bob Der and Justin Tejada are stepping down as ELP directors. AAJA will conduct a national search for the next ELP directors in 2015.

JCamp (Co-Directors Neal Justin, Lorene Yue, and Clea Benson) – JCamp is proud to hold its program this year from Aug. 3 to 8 at the University of Minnesota. It’s the 15th year anniversary for the high school journalism camp. The deadline is March 15th if you know of any interested high school freshmen, sophomores or juniors. We’re planning a JCamp session for alumni to be held at the San Francisco convention to help program graduates stay connected. The sessions will be open to Voices alumni as well, some of whom were JCamp graduates.

Voices (Director Ruth Liao) The Voices college student journalism mentoring program is preparing to celebrate its 25th anniversary in San Francisco this year, recognizing the success of more than 300 alumni. Recruitment for students and faculty mentors is now underway, along with curriculum planning. Voices is pursuing sponsorship opportunities from national companies and collaboration with SF-area vendors. This year, Voices will be collaborating on offering workshops with J Camp advisers and alumni in a pilot program.


Civic Engagement Programs

MediaWatch (Chair Zain Shauk) After a very active year, MediaWatch closed 2014 with some important statements to aiming to promote fair and accurate coverage of the Asian American community. As debate over immigration reform picked up yet again, we put out a new statement urging news organizations to avoid the pejorative term “illegal immigrant” and encouraging journalists to instead be more clear and nuanced in their descriptions. In light of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack in Paris, AAJA stood with other journalism organizations in support of freedom of expression. We also noticed disturbing coverage of Islam and Muslims and put out a guide to help promote accurate and clear reporting.

MediaWatch continues to monitor and discuss coverage of Asian Americans, whether it’s commendable or problematic or just plain interesting. We have a robust conversation on our Facebook page and we continue to seek input and support from our members. If you see something worth noting or that raises concern, please do bring it to our attention so that we can be as proactive as possible in promoting good journalism about our community.

Media Institute

Twenty five people participated in the first Media Institute held at the D.C. convention. Immediately following the training, a number of participants have been interview or used as sources in news stories. We hope to continue the program this year in San Francisco and build out a resource site. We also started an AAPI experts directory as a resource.


Heartland Project (Project leader Bobby Calvan)A year ago, AAJA and NLGJA set off on an ambitious course of working with newsrooms across Nebraska to improve coverage of communities of color and LGBT issues. Despite the challenges one can expect in launching a first-of-its-kind program, The Heartland Project proved nimble and met its goal of producing at least 40 stories over the course of the year — for radio, television, print and online. The project also worked closely with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications, which seems more committed than ever in integrating diversity and inclusion into its training of aspiring journalists. It is now up to Nebraska’s newsrooms to carry on the work that we began. We hope we’ve sown the seeds of diversity and inclusion in the Cornhusker State. A look at the stories http://www.aaja.org/category/programsprojects/heartland/

IRE & AAJA Partnership – AAJA and Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) continue on our partnership for 2015. Both organizations are creating a unique opportunity for members of both organizations to take advantage of the training offered at three national events in 2015: IRE’s Computer-Assisted Reporting Conference, IRE’s annual conference and the AAJA National Convention. Members of each organization can use their existing membership to register for any of these events.

Unity – UNITY is planning a Diversity Caucus on April 10 with new and legacy media partners to help direct the coalition into a new path on a plan to build a pipeline on media diversity. UNITY also is planning a series of regional workshops in South Dakota, New Mexico Alabama, Detroit and North Carolina as part of an effort to bring media diversity events in areas of the country struggling with poverty and areas often overlooked. These events will focus on the coverage of poverty and will partner with area universities. UNITY also wants to facilitate a friendly basketball/softball game between AAJA and NAJA.

Paul Cheung
AAJA National President