AAJA Announces 2018 Award Winners

The 2018 AAJA National Journalism, Membership and Special Awards were announced on Saturday, August 11 at the 29th Annual Gala Scholarship & Awards Banquet during this year’s national convention in Houston. Congratulations to this year’s winners!





Written Journalism 


Vivian Ho

“A Life on the Line”




Sari AvivErin MoriartyCarol RossRand Morrison

“Just Alike”





Monica Eng, Katherine Nagasawa

“Who’s Your Chinaman?: The Origins Of An Offensive Piece Of Chicago Political Slang”




Nathan Eagle, Alana EaglePatti EplerDavid ChatsuthiphanEvan Nagle

“The Last Wild Place”




Student Journalism


Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication Students

“Hooked Rx: From Prescription to Addiction”





Written Journalism


Vauhini Vara

“Bee-Brained: Inside the Competitive Indian-American Spelling Community”




David Ono

“Nick Ut”






Jessica Terrell, Anita Hofschneider, April Estrellon, Emily Dugdale

“Offshore Podcast: Confronting Faith” 





Katherine Nagasawa

“What Happened to Chicago’s Japanese Neighborhood?”




Student Journalism


Wen-Yee Lee

“Japanese American Vet Witnessed U.S. Army Desegregation”








Member of the Year


Kris Vera-Phillips 

Senior News Producer, KPBS News San Diego

AAJA-San Diego


Leezel Tanglao

Assistant Managing Editor, CNN Money

AAJA-New York


President of the Year


Ashley Dunn 

Metro Editor, The Los Angeles Times

AAJA-Los Angeles







Chapter of the Year












Mentor of the Year


Lori Aratani

Reporter, The Washington Post

AAJA-Washington, D.C.








Mentee of the Year


Sonah Lee

Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

AAJA-New York







ELP Outstanding Leadership Award

Juju Chang

Co-Anchor, ABC News, Nightline

AAJA-New York


Josh du Lac

Editor, The Washington Post

AAJA-Washington D.C.





Member of the Year

2017 Paul Cheung

2016 Shawn Nicole Wong

2015 Pamela Wu

2014 Bobby Calvan

2013 Richard Lui

2012 Julie Tam (Texas), Bobby Calvan (Washington, D.C.), Jam Sardar (Michigan)

2011 Frank Witsil

2010 Lisa Chung and Craig Gima

2009 Cynthia Wang

2008 Paul Cheung and Ivette Yee

2007 George Kiriyama

2006 Neal Justin

2005 Randall Yip

2004 Keith Kamisugi

2003 Pradnya Joshi

2002 Sandy Louey

2001 Amy Wang

2000 Anthony Ramirez

1999 Aki Soga

1998 Michael and Alix Quan

1997 Dalton Tanonaka

1996 Kimberly Moy

President of the Year

2017 Liberty Zabala (San Diego)

2016 Anjana Schroeder (Michigan)

2015 Mai Hoang (Seattle)

2014 Ramy Inocencio (Asia)

2013 Sandy Louey (Sacramento) and Jocelyn “Joz” Wang (Los Angeles)

2012 Julie Shaw (Philadelphia)

2011 Sanjay Bhatt (Seattle)

2010 Ryan O. Kim (San Francisco/Bay Area)

2009 Vino Wong (Atlanta)

2008 Victoria Lim (Florida)

2007 Lorene Yue (Chicago)

2006 Henry Fuhrmann and Rachanee Srisavasdi (Los Angeles)

2005 Murali Balaji (Philadelphia)

2004 Ted Shen, posthumously (Chicago)

2003 Anh Do (Los Angeles)

2002 Cheryl Tan (Washington, D.C.)

2001 Denise L. Poon (Los Angeles)

2000 Lee Ann Kim (San Diego)

1999 Mi Young Hwang (Chicago)

1998 Bonnie Lee (San Francisco Bay Area)

1997 Nancy Yoshihara (Los Angeles)

1996 Esther Wu (Texas)

Chapter of the Year

2017 San Diego

2016 Asia

2015 Seattle

2014 New York

2013 Asia

2012 Asia

2011 Minnesota

2010 Sacramento

2009 New England

2008 Seattle

2007 Los Angeles

2006 Sacramento

2005 Seattle

2004 San Diego and Washington, D.C.

2003 Texas

2002 San Francisco Bay Area

2001 New York

2000 Atlanta

1999 New England

1998 Florida

1997 Minnesota

1996 Hawai’i






Yasutsune Hirashiki, Retired Cameraman, ABC News



This award honors an Asian American or Pacific Islander who has demonstrated courage and commitment to the principles of journalism over the course of a life’s work.

Yasutsune “Tony” Hirashiki was born in Naha, Japan in 1938 as the first son of Yasuhiko and Yoshiko Hirashiki. After graduating from high school in Osaka in 1956, he joined Mainichi Broadcasting System (MBS) as a copy boy in the newsroom and worked his way up to become a television news cameraman.

In 1966, he moved to Vietnam to join the ABC News Saigon bureau and covered the war until its end in 1975. After completing coverage of the fall of Saigon, he transferred to Bonn, Germany where he continued to cover war and tragedy in the Middle East and Europe. Hirashiki moved to the U.S. in 1989 to join the ABC News office in New York as a cameraman, where he covered high-profile news events, political campaigns and 9/11. He worked there until 2006, where he retired after 40 years with ABC News. 

Throughout his years behind the camera, Hirashiki met and worked with hundreds of correspondents, reporters, crews and producers and always wanted to tell their side of the story. In his retirement, he finally took to writing and published “I Wanted to Be Robert Capa” in Japan in 2008. The book was met with critical acclaim and awarded the prestigious Ooya Souichi Non-Fiction Award. He then went on to publish two more books about the Vietnam War. In 2017, he published his first book in English, “On The Frontlines of the Television War” with help of his editor, Terry Irving.

Hirashiki was given the nickname of “Tony” by his first correspondent Roger Peterson on the battlefields of Vietnam. He credits this with saving his life multiple times and can still vividly remember his colleagues shouting, “Keep your head down, Tony!”

In the summer of 1993, along with his wife and two children, Hirashiki became an American citizen.


Previous Recipients
2018 Yasutsune Hirashiki
2017 Nick Ut
2016 Lonnie Wong
2015 Ti-Hua Chang
2014 Not Awarded
2013 Yuen Ying Chan
2012 Curtiss Kim
2011 Nick Ut
2010 Annie Nakao
2009 Dinah Eng
2008 Dith Pran
2007 Sam Chu Lin
2006 Duong Phuc and Vu Thanh Thuy
2005 Lori Matsukawa
2004 Lloyd LaCuesta
2003 Tritia Totoya and Willaim Hosokawa
2002 Not Awarded
2001 Yen Ngoc Do
2000 Larry Nakatsuka
1999 Henry Moritsugu
1998 Stanford Chen
1997 K. Connie Kang
1996 David Louie
1995 Dorothy Ing Russell
1994 Willie Kee
1993 Ken Kashiwahara
1992 Morgan Li Kung Jin
1991 Not Awarded
1990 William Woo
1989 James Omura




Randall Yip, Senior Producer, ABC7/KGO-TV




This award honors an individual or corporation that has made strides in promoting and demonstrating diversity in the news media industry. The Leadership in Diversity Award winner is selected by the AAJA National Board.


Randall Yip is a senior producer at ABC7/KGO-TV and a longtime member of AAJA’s San Francisco chapter. Yip has been a veteran AAJA leader and champion of mentoring and has shaped the foundation of what is now the Mentor Match program. Yip took the notion of being a mentor and helped formalize it into a nationwide program in matching scores of mentors and mentees. 

Yip’s “even-keeled temperament” and his commitment to inspiring journalists were both cited in his nomination. He has championed the role of mentorship for decades, which has laid a framework for AAJA’s member programs. Yip is a former national officer of AAJA and a past recipient of the AAJA Mentor of the Year and has inspired dozens of other mentor leaders. His efforts have helped develop today’s generation of journalists who are now driven to take up the task of moving forward others by becoming mentors themselves. 

Yip’s nomination for this award came from seven testimonials of active AAJA leaders and members, and more have expressed encouragement for their support of the nomination. The testimonials described his generous time, kindness and encouragement to other journalists. Yip has helped make diversity stronger in journalism through his devotion to AAJA’s mission and is worthy of this year’s “Leadership in Diversity Award.”  





For questions about the AAJA awards, please contact Daniel Garcia at danielg@aaja.org.

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