In Depth

NABJ: Asian American Journalists Share the Goal

By Dinah Eng

The Asian American Journalists Association, one of NABJ's partners in the Unity: Journalists of Color strategic alliance, will also be exploring ways to reinvent the business of journalism and helping its members make new career choices at its national convention, scheduled for Aug. 12-15 in Boston.

With industry changes amid an economic downturn, layoffs and reductions in staffing have become a dominant concern among journalists who are struggling as media companies wrestle with defining new business models across platforms.

“The journalists and newsrooms best positioned to come out of this recession will be those who continue to invest in new skills, show visionary leadership, and maximize their value to readers and viewers,” says Sharon Chan, AAJA president and technology reporter for The Seattle Times. “Our members have been asking about how to stay on top of new technologies, and are looking for career guidance.”

George Kiriyama, AAJA vice president for broadcast and a news reporter for KNTV, the NBC affiliate in the San Francisco Bay area, says industry changes have blurred the lines between different media platforms, so this year’s convention will focus on skill sets everyone needs.

Program committee co-chairs Paul Cheung, deputy multimedia presentation editor for The Miami Herald, and Frank Witsil, copy editor for the Detroit Free Press, have designed more than 30 sessions on multimedia skills, dealing with industry changes, work-life balance and financial planning.

“A lot of it is future-oriented,” Cheung says. “In terms of management, we have a workshop on how to manage big stories and deploy coverage across departments, as well as a session on how to run an innovative newsroom with fewer resources.”

Convention highlights include a plenary session on the risks of reporting abroad, remarks by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke at the opening reception, and a keynote address by John Yang, NBC News White House correspondent, at the Gala Scholarship and Awards Banquet.

Convention co-chairs are Shirley Leung, assistant managing editor for business at The Boston Globe, and Sangita Lee Chandra, a producer-reporter for Boston’s WCVB TV-5.

An estimated 500 attendees—an all-time low—are expected at the gathering. Past attendance figures ranged from 900 to 1,200.