May 29, 2020
Protesters in Minneapolis confront riot police over the death of George Floyd after being tear-gassed. May 27, 2020. Photo by Richard Tsong-Taatarii for the Minneapolis Star Tribune

In this issue:
  • A Letter from the President 
  • Updates & Upcoming Events
  • Coronavirus/AAPI History Month Resources
  • Kudos & On Our List
  • Opportunities
A Letter from the President

What a history-making AAPI Heritage Month. It was the second full month of social distancing for most of us in the United States. In Asia, our colleagues are negotiating a new normalcy or fighting off second outbreaks. 

It has been a challenging spring. 

For the past two months, the constant undercurrent in our lives has been the hostility unleashed against communities of color, including our AAJA members. Last weekend, while covering beachgoers at Myrtle Beach, a man yelled at CNN national correspondent Natasha Chen to “ get out of my f-----g country ,” calling her responsible for the pandemic. It was the latest example of a string of such attacks hurled against our members while doing their jobs. Just Friday morning, CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez and his production team were arrested while reporting in Minneapolis. 

Meanwhile, we turned our living rooms into makeshift offices, while juggling newfound jobs as homeschool teachers and caretakers. We are pained by isolation and grief, both of loved ones lost to the virus and of our hopes for the year. Our students graduated into an industry facing its own crossroads and identity crisis, exacerbated by layoffs, furloughs, and newsroom closures . The faint signs of hope in a lasting business model for journalism have vanished, once again. 

The virus does not seem to be letting up. We surpassed an official 100,000 death toll from COVID-19 this week. 

As the tectonic plates of journalism shift during the pandemic and beyond, this is our moment to redefine the future of our industry and our role in it. 

In 2020 and beyond, what does it mean to be an Asian American? A journalist? An Asian American journalist? And how do we shape the future of journalism through this global crisis and its aftermath?  

This is our time to lead in telling our community’s story. I’m proud of our civic engagement work around the coronavirus, which began early with our media advisory in February. And we are expanding our civic engagement work, through the launch of the Pacific Islander Task Force, the Muslim American storytelling project collaboration with, the IGTV show “aaja @thistime,” and so much more. 

We have a long road ahead of us. But I am inspired by the courage and grace with which my fellow AAJA members are navigating how we bring our full selves in service of our work and lives. I find my solace in our strength of community, our innovation and our entrepreneurial spirits -- as we forge our path to a new media landscape that can weather future crises. 

I am grateful for all of our members, volunteers and leaders. Thank you for keeping our AAJA Family strong and united. 

Wishing you health and safety, 

Michelle Ye Hee Lee
AAJA National President 
AAJA National Updates

  • Pacific Islander Task Force AAJA is proud to announce the creation of the Pacific Islander Task Force to increase engagement, understanding, and awareness of PI membership within AAJA and to represent the Indigenous peoples of Oceania, as well as develop tools to help journalists cover PI communities fairly and accurately.
  • Google News Initiative Training Series Join AAJA-NY President and journalism tools trainer Frank Bi for a series of hands-on workshops on free digital tools that you can use to make a difference in your newsroom right away. Register here.

  • #AAJA20 #AAJA20 is still in the works and we’re excited to share updates with you soon. In the meantime, we’re revamping our registration website so you don’t have to worry about earlybird deadlines. (If you’re already registered, you’re all set.) Stay tuned for more info.

  • ELP 2020 The 2020 AAJA Executive Leadership Program has been cancelled.

  • CNN Virtual Networking Session This past Wednesday, we hosted a virtual networking session with CNN for mid-to-senior career AAJA members. We hope to offer more opportunities to apply for virtual sessions in the future. Make sure you provide an up-to-date email address in your member profile to not miss out.

Upcoming Virtual Events

Make sure to find your local chapter on social media to not miss out! For example, Philly and New York both hosted discussions about the importance of AAPI media coverage and representation amidst COVID-19 related discrimination this past week.

  • May 30 Virtual Town Hall on the rising bias and harassment against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic hosted by AAJA-LA. Register here.
  • May 30 Digital N3 Salon “Using Data to Find Impactful Coronavirus Stories” and “Why Diversity Matters Now and What You Can Do About It” hosted by AAJA-Asia. Register here.
"This moment allows us to stretch ourselves to find creative ways to write stories, at times without being at the scene. When we get assignments, the question isn't "how do I get there?" Rather, it's "how do I transport my audience there?" We're writing newspaper versions of novellas, in a sense. I like experimenting and the thrill of connecting virtual dots for all manner of audiences."

Anh Do , to AAJA members in an exclusive quote for this newsletter with advice on journalism while social distancing, inspired by her creative coverage of the passing of a legendary Vietnamese diva (see our reads below)
COVID-19/AAPI History Month Resources

  • Recording Journalists & Mental Health for Journalists During the Pandemic and Beyond including Aneri Pattani hosted by South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA). Recording and Twitter thread.

  • Recording Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) in Conversation, hosted by Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS), and moderated by Mini Racker, Matt Stevens, Scott Wong, and Nicholas Wu. Recording here.

#AAJAKudos t o... 👏

Celebrate your achievements with us -- tag @aaja or let us know on the Slack. 

  • Michael Huang, AAJA Sports Task Force co-chair, for his recent move to ESPN's NFL Nation team.

  • Dylan Wells for her new role at the National Journal.

  • Julianne Chiaet for her new gig at Twitter creating Twitter Moments around trends, putting them into context, and curating tweets to feature as well as spotting misinformation. Feel free to send tips to @JuliChiaet.

  • Hannah Bae for her debut column “Gwangju Daughter” in the online literary magazine Catapult that explores personal and political traumas, with a focus on the 1980 Gwangju uprising, a pro-democracy movement that rocked her father’s hometown in South Korea.

  • Brolley Genster, 2019 ELP Asia grad, for joining The Korea Herald as an editor

  • Corinne Chin, Amy Wang, Naomi Ishisaka, Asia Fields, Lindsey Wasson, Scott Greenstone, Frank Mina, Jacie Landeros, Hayat Norimine, Lauren Frohne for being honored in 2020 SPJ Excellence in Journalism Awards

  • Alex Lewis, senior producer, and Rachel Ishikawa, production assistant, of Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul on WXPN, which has been awarded a regional Edward R. Murrow award for best Large Market Radio News Documentary by the Radio and Television News Directors Association and nominated for a Peabody award.
"The cruelty of this horrible virus is it robs you of the chance to provide comfort and company. The only way to honor [my grandfather] is for me to tell his story and continue to uphold the values he instilled in me. Work hard, stand up for what you believe in and fight for others. He was proud that I was a journalist." 

Jamie Nguyen , on why she create a web page to honor her grandfather

On Our List, Member Bylines 
To read 📰

  • Jamie Nguyen’s in memoriam of her grandfather Toan Huu Nguyen, colonel in the South Vietnamese Army, political prisoner, and family man who passed away from COVID-19 weeks away from his 90th birthday

  • Alex Lim and Alyssa Lukpat’s online magazine Panama Up Close that showcases stories from Panama produced by Northeastern student journalists this spring.

To watch 📺

  • Vanishing Chinatown Viewfinder program produced by gayle yamada on PBS KVIE about the history of San Francisco’s Chinatown through photo albums.

  • This video (in Mandarin and English) and story (in Chinese) about the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad that features photojournalist Corky Lee, who started a photo project bringing together Asian Americans and Chinese railroad worker descendants to commemorate those missing from documented history.

To listen 🎧

  • Gouda Talks, a food podcast exploring the intersection of food, farming, and culture hosted and produced by Jess Eng. Her latest episode features Nawal Nasrallah, an Iraqi scholar and chef, who specializes in cooking Mesopotamian cuisine, the oldest cuisine in the world.
"I can use my position to represent because representation matters and also to speak out for what’s right versus what’s wrong.

There’s a fine line between being a journalist who is trying to be objective and unbiased while acknowledging biases and being an activist or an advocacy journalist, but I think that there's an understanding - I hope there is - that we bring all of who we are to our jobs and what we do.

To try and separate that wouldn't be authentic."

Vicky Nguyen, NBC investigative and consumer correspondent, on Facebook live for AAJA .

For students


  • Submit AAJA Speakers Bureau Nominations here.

  • Check out the AAJA Jobs Board and the #aaja-jobs Slack channel for career opportunities
Correction: In the May 15, 2020 newsletter, we incorrectly listed Ramon Dompor as the producer of the following piece for the Seattle Times . Corinne Chin produced "Pike Place Market’s Hmong flower farmers adapt during the coronavirus pandemic."
What are your fellow AAJA members up to during the pandemic? Taking online ballet classes, rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer , 3D printing cosplay props, reading Lang Leav poetry, and more... Read t heir answers here .

Did you produce (or consume) some great journalism recently? Put your work on our radar , so we can feature you in the next member highlights.

Don’t forget to let us know how we can support you in this moment.