A New Year Message from National President Yvonne Leow




Dear AAJA Family,

It is an extraordinary time to be working in journalism. Despite the torrent of #fakenews and the ongoing changes happening in our industry, AAJA has been relentlessly committed to supporting you and our mission. Looking back at 2017, we have a lot to be proud of and here are just a few of the highlights:

- AAJA adopted a new look and feel. In addition to our rebranding, we upgraded our website, member and jobs database to ensure the technology that powers AAJA improves as our organization grows. (P.S. Join our Slack channel!)

- JCamp led by Arelis Hernandez received more applicants than ever before, and VOICES, led by Maya Sugarman and Jessie Tseng, integrated more in-depth reporting into their program (read: Missed deadline: The delayed promise of newsroom diversity).

- Our annual convention, co-chaired by Juliana Reyes and Sameer Rao from the Philly chapter, was the most profitable convention we've had in the past five years, and thanks to the efforts of Jeannie Park and the programming team, we hosted our first member-driven Story Slam.

- The Criminal Justice Project, our two-year effort to produce original investigative journalism, is winding down in 2018, but we've published important pieces, like an inside look at a private prison's $150 million deal to detain immigrants in New Mexico, which spurred legislators to review their local policies.

- ELP co-director Paul Cheung organized Catalyst, our first-ever media entrepreneurship bootcamp in New York City. Over the course of three days, we welcomed 15 aspiring media entrepreneurs and introduced investors and executives to our mission.

- VP of Journalism Programs Ramy Inocencio helped kickstart our Mentorship Council led by Ruth Liao, Hannah Bae and Archith Seshadri. In our last callout, we received more than 65 mentor and 165 mentee applications.

- Senior VP Michelle Lee and VP of Civic Engagement Pia Sarkar welcomed Nuran Alteir, Fauzeya Rahman, Waliya Lari and Yousuf Fahimuddin to lead our Muslim American Task Force. Pia also partnered with CeFaan Kim to formalize our MediaWatch committee and standardize how we respond to media diversity issues.

- Finally, in December, the Democracy Fund awarded us with a $200,000 grant to continue advancing our work in journalism and the AAPI community. (Woohoo!)


A heartfelt thank you

AAJA would not be possible without you, the heart of our organization. Thank you for believing in our mission, for stepping up as our tireless chapter leaders, governing board members and national officers. Thank you for shaping our affinity groups, signature programs and the future of our organization. Our national team, led by Executive Director Kathy Chow, has also been instrumental to AAJA's growth and I could not be more grateful for their efforts.


An important year ahead of us

There's no doubt that 2018 will be a challenging and exciting time for our industry. At the conclusion of our fall governing board meeting, we set out to accomplish five key goals by 2020:

  1. Increase our membership from 1,500 to 2,020. It's more than a statistic. If we want to ensure organizations are held accountable to diversifying media, we need to find strength in numbers.
  2. Be a leader in diversity, equity and inclusion issues. While our focus is on the AAPI community, we will continue to create opportunities for all journalists of color.
  3. Focus on digital innovation. Our future depends on us experimenting and embracing new technologies. We're exploring ways AAJA can help solve systemic diversity challenges, including a potential freelance jobs platform.
  4. Expand our presence in Asia. Our Asia chapter is one of the fastest-growing in AAJA, and we want to support its expansion in the years to come.
  5. Elevate and advocate for our most seasoned AAJA members. We want to better support AAJA managers and editors so we see more of them rise to the highest levels of leadership in journalism.

We have big plans for 2018 and beyond, but what remains to be answered is how we get there. Our ability to improve media diversity, elevate AAPI voices and promote the work of journalists of color depends on you. Here are three simple ways you can help:

- Renew your AAJA membership and encourage one colleague to join. If every AAJA member recruits another member to join, we can quickly exceed our 2,020 membership goal.

Register for AAJA's 2018 convention. Meet fellow AAJA members, network with job recruiters and swim in a Texas-shaped pool at our annual convention in Houston, TX, August 8-11, 2018.

- Volunteer with a local chapter. One of the best ways to learn and benefit from AAJA is by getting involved at the local level. If you live outside of our local chapter cities, reach out to our at-large chapter representative.

It is an incredible honor to continue serving you and our AAJA family. Let's make 2018 a year to remember.


Thank you,

Yvonne Leow

AAJA National President