AAJA Seattle in 2011

Chapter President’s Report
Dear friends,

Your AAJA Seattle chapter ends 2011 with noteworthy accomplishments, a strong community presence and new leaders.

Just this year, AAJA Seattle played an important leadership role in calling for the release of detained Al Jazeera reporter Dorothy Parvaz, a former AAJA Seattle member. The chapter also hosted a memorable Northwest Journalists of Color scholarship reception emceed by AAJA Seattle VP Owen Lei, with great support from KING TV, Safeco Foundation and The Seattle Times.

Former NJC scholarship recipient Thanh Tan, a multimedia reporter for The Texas Tribune, delivered the keynote speech to this year’s scholarship recipients. If you want to be inspired, watch her outstanding speech:

Our chapter and the Seattle Association of Black Journalists presented a leadership plaque to Seattle Times Publisher Frank Blethen for his consistent support of diversity nationally and locally. And we cut a red velvet cake to mark the 25th anniversary of the NJC scholarship, which has helped more than 100 aspiring journalists of color from Washington state with college expenses.

Chapter VP Owen Lei also brought together our board and other active members for a video shoot at Seattle Center. The video was incorporated in the LA chapter’s AAJA Trivia Bowl video.

The Seattle chapter had an impressive showing at the AAJA National Convention in Detroit. Three of our members – Caroline Li, Sarah Wallace, and Sunny Wu – were awarded Ford Foundation fellowships to attend the conference. The chapter also sponsored University of Washington student Peter Sessum with a Founders scholarship. Whitworth University graduate Kyle Kim joined the team at this year’s VOICES convention newsroom project, which was led by the able Marian Liu (now community manager at Storify.com). Athima Chansanchai represented the Seattle chapter on the convention programming committee co-chair and on the Governing Board as National Secretary.

Former AAJA National President Sharon Chan received the Outstanding Leadership Award from AAJA’s Executive Leadership Program. Yours truly was humbled to receive the Chapter President of the Year award and the Gannett Foundation’s Digital Innovation in Watchdog Journalism award. Seattle Times Publisher Frank Blethen received the AAJA Special Recognition Award. Congratulations to all!

We have some fantastic talent leading the chapter in 2012:

  • President: Sona Patel, social media producer, seattletimes.com (term expires in 2013)
    VP-Programs: Lauren Rabaino, associate web producer, seattletimes.com (term expires in 2013)
    VP-Events: Caroline Li, web entrepreneur (term expires in 2012)
    Treasurer: Mai Hoang, business reporter, The Yakima Herald-Republic (term expires in 2012)
    Secretary: Samantha Pak, reporter, The Redmond Reporter (term expires in 2013)
    National Board Representative: Sanjay Bhatt, business reporter, The Seattle Times (term expires in 2013)
  • The new board already has stepped up to the plate, and it’s not even Jan. 1! Sona Patel helped organize Holiday Scoop 2011, an unaffiliated event, with AAJA members Sharon Chan and Candace Heckman and Online News Association member Tiffany Campbell. The event raised $2,000 for the Northwest Journalists of Color Scholarship!

    The new board has begun planning for our 2012 Lunar New Year Banquet & Silent Auction, which will be held Jan. 28 at Acquabar in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood.

    You may have noticed that AAJA Seattle’s website has a new look and feel. The site has served mainly as a bulletin board for chapter news and job listings as well as an archive of photos, videos and stories about past chapter events. Thanks to incoming chapter VP Lauren Rabaino, as well as AAJA members Sarah Wallace, Furhana Afrid and Sunny Wu, the site now is integrated with our @aajaseattle Twitter account and designed to offer a better user experience and engagement. If you’d like to contribute stories to the site, please contact Lauren, whose Twitter handle is @laurenrabaino.

    As we close out 2011, you still have a few days to make a tax-deductible donation to AAJA! You can make an online donation to AAJA National’s Power of One campaign or its scholarships. The Seattle chapter also welcomes donations by check to its P.O. Box. The chapter will have a PayPal option in 2012.

    Don’t forget to renew your AAJA membership! I encourage you to renew at the Gold or Platinum level, each of which include perks and special mention on the chapter and national websites. Platinum level membership includes your registration fee for UNITY 2012 in Las Vegas!

    For the past four years, I have been honored to serve the chapter during a period of turbulence for our employers and our occupation. Working together, we finished the campaign to establish a $100,000 endowment for the NJC scholarships, grew membership despite the closure of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and increased our reach through workshops, partnerships, field trips and digital media.

    We are blessed in Seattle with a cadre of leaders who have an ethic of giving and paying it forward. I’d like to thank several people who supported me in ways large and small during my term: my fellow board members Nicole Tsong, Mai Hoang, Athima Chansanchai, Venice Buhain, Caroline Li, Owen Lei; AAJA Executive Director Kathy Chow; Karen Johnson of Hacks & Hackers; former AAJA chapter officers Sharon Chan and Lori Matsukawa; and the leadership of The Seattle Times, especially Publisher Frank Blethen, Executive Editor David Boardman and former Executive Editor Mike Fancher.

    Being a journalist today is more challenging and entrepreneurial than ever before. Journalists must sharpen their skills, cultivate their network and have a community to stand behind them. You and your fellow members are AAJA. Together, we are charting a new course for journalism in the 21st century.

    Happy New Year!

    Sanjay Bhatt
    Seattle Chapter President

    About sbhatt

    Sanjay Bhatt jumped into journalism in 1996, landing his first job at The Times Leader, a daily in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. He juggled covering 12 school districts and loved turning out enterprising, investigative pieces. Within a year, he got hired by The Palm Beach Post of West Palm Beach, Fla., where he spent the next six years building a reputation as a top health reporter. The biggest story he covered there was the 2001 anthrax investigation. In 2003, he joined The Seattle Times, where he has examined public schools, neighborhood issues, the economic crisis and local government. He enjoys producing mini-documentaries, trying new ideas online and learning new technologies. View all posts by sbhatt →
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