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Dorothy’s friends, colleagues call on Syria to free her

Posted on by sbhatt

From coast to coast, friends and colleagues of Al Jazeera reporter D. Parvaz are calling on Syria to return her home safely. Dorothy, or “D,” as she was known to her many friends in the Seattle area, has been missing in Syria since last Friday afternoon, according to Al Jazeera, which has demanded her immediate return.

Today is World Press Freedom Day. It’s time for governments everywhere to release journalists and respect Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Be sure to send a tweet today with #FreeDorothy.

Here’s a copy of a letter AAJA National President Doris Truong and I sent this morning. Feel free to adapt it to your needs and email your own to The more people they hear from the better!

Ambassador Imad Moustapha

Embassy of Syria

2215 Wyoming Ave N.W.

Washington D.C. 20008 USA

                                                                                                                      May 3, 2011

Dear Sir:

We have learned that one of our friends and colleagues, Dorothy Parvaz, has been missing in Syria since Friday afternoon. Al Jazeera reports that it sent her there to cover news and lost contact with the 39-year-old after she arrived in Damascus on a Qatar Airways flight.

By now, the Syrian government is well aware that Dorothy’s family, friends and colleagues are concerned for her safety. We are alarmed by the government’s silence on her status, especially at a time when so many journalists in the Middle East are being killed or attacked.

The disappearance of a journalist should be troubling to all who long for peace. We rely on journalists as honest brokers of information and perspectives. They keep us aware of what is happening on the ground. They are our wise eyes.

Dorothy wrote for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, was a member of the Asian American Journalists Association and received fellowships to study at Harvard University and Cambridge University in England.

Today is World Press Freedom Day. The Syrian government has an opportunity to do the right thing. The Director-General of UNESCO put out a statement worth repeating:

“Silencing the media or attempting to intimidate them is an unacceptable assault on the right of citizens to be informed. I call on all countries in the world to respect the right to free expression, as laid down in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the right to freedom of information.”

On behalf of the 1,500 members of the Asian American Journalists Association, we respectfully call on your government to release Dorothy Parvaz and allow her to return safely to her family and colleagues. If she is not in custody, we respectfully ask that you cooperate with the U.S. State Department’s request to locate her. We will remain vigilant in monitoring your government’s actions and reporting on her status.


Doris Truong

National President, Asian American Journalists Association

Sanjay Bhatt

Seattle chapter president, Asian American Journalists Association

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Dorothy Parvaz, former Seattle P-I writer, missing in Syria

Posted on by sbhatt


One of our own, Dorothy Parvaz, a former Seattle Post-Intelligencer writer and AAJA Seattle member who joined Al Jazeera in 2010, is missing in Syria.

Some suspect she has been detained by Syrian authorities. This could be a fast-changing situation, so please tweet updates using hashtag #FreeDorothy.

Al Jazeera has demanded her return safely. She left Qatar on Friday for Syria to help cover events taking place there. Al Jazeera reports there has been no contact with the 39-year-old since she disembarked from a Qatar Airways flight in Damascus.

An Al Jazeera spokesman said: “We are concerned for Dorothy’s safety and wellbeing. We are requesting full cooperation from the Syrian authorities to determine how she was processed at the airport and what her current location is. We want her returned to us immediately.”

Read more from Al Jazeera here:

Some of you know Dorothy well, while others may only have read her byline. I pray she is safe and will come back to her colleagues as soon as possible.

I’m in touch with the Committee to Protect Journalists and monitoring this to see how AAJA Seattle might offer constructive support. We will continue to post updates as we receive more information.

On Twitter, some AAJA members already have begun to call on the Syrian government to release Dorothy. Hashtag is #FreeDorothy.

Former colleague Larry Johnson advises:
“She’s been missing since Friday. Everyone should contact the Syrian embassy in Washington, D.C. Calls are best, emails help. We need to do this now!” he wrote to P-I Help Google group.

Marsha Milroy provided contact info:

The Embassy Main Line (202) 232-6316 And their press office:; 202-232-6313 x139

I will be crafting a letter on behalf of AAJA Seattle to the Syrian embassy.

In unity,

Sanjay Bhatt
President, AAJA Seattle
Reporter, The Seattle Times

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One week left! NJC DEADLINE is May 1st.

Posted on by Owen

Time’s almost up!  The deadline is May 1, 2011.  (Postmarked by that date is fine)

Don’t put it off!! Last year we awarded four students with more than $2500 in scholarships and stipends.  

Three scholarships are available:

Northwest Journalists of Color Scholarship:  Awards up to $2,500 in scholarship money to students who intend to pursue careers in journalism.  Other eligibility:  Either you’re a WA resident heading to college, or a college student in WA.  That’s it.

Founders’ Scholarship: Covers a student registration fee for the 2011 AAJA National Convention, which is Aug. 10-13 in Detroit.  A small stipend for travel and accommodations also is available.  Eligibility:  You are, or will become, a student member of AAJA. For more information about the convention, click here.

AAJA Seattle/911 Media Arts Student Scholarship:  We’re awarding two scholarships to AAJA Seattle student members for up to $400 in class costs, lab and rental fees at the 911 Media Arts Center in Seattle’s University District.

Click here to download a copy of the application. For more information contact scholarship chair Owen Lei at

Again the deadline in May 1!  Here’s where you send your applications!
AAJA Seattle Scholarships
c/o Owen Lei, KING-TV
333 Dexter Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109

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I still love you, Tiger mom, dad

I’ve been struggling to write this since Amy Chua’s book reading Friday night, which brought back a lot memories for me.

The Yale professor’s latest work, “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” has been getting a lot of ink lately (both digital and print). The memoir, her third book, is about her experience as a strict parent raising two daughters – and her views on parenting as they relate to being Chinese. Since it was published in January, it has been controversial — garnering positive and negative attention from readers.

I even tossed my hat into the ring, writing a lighter twist on on what I knew about the brouhaha and the memes it generated.

On Friday, Chua read to a group of us at the Elliott Bay Book Co. in Seattle, and as she did, it triggered memories of disappointing my dad.

He isn’t Chinese, but as a Thai father with high-expectations and the kind of restrictive parenting style Chua describes in her book – no grade less than an A, no sleepovers with American friends, nothing less than No. 1 is acceptable – it touched a nerve. As a rebellious eldest child caught between two cultures, it reminded me of the epic clashes we had. His rules and overbearing personality made me feel helpless and enraged me. I could relate so well to Chua’s younger daughter, who brought her mother to the brink.

But, the book reading also gave me a chance to reflect on that, too, and to try to understand my father from another perspective, of a parent trying to do his best.

After years of getting my buttons pushed by not living up to his expectations of me, I’ve made peace with my father — and who I am.

And that night, I saw Chua in a similar way: human, fallible – a parent struggling to do right by her kids, and who’s still learning. I realized that as much as she pushed her daughters to be better, she realized that she could be better, too. And although she came across as somewhat defensive to the criticism and the attacks on her parenting style and book, I saw her offer humility, too.

“This is a story of how I was humbled by a 13-year-old,” she said.

Some of the harshest criticism of Chua came after the Wall Street Journal published a book excerpt, which she said ran counter to the lessons of being a real parent with a real child who does not always conform to the rigid rules she wrote about at the beginning of the book. But, she said, the excerpt, independent of the end of the book, was a caricature of what she had been.

She told those of us in this packed, standing-room only basement that she wrote her book in a “moment of crisis,” and it turned out to be a coming of age memoir — for her. She acknowledged she was raised by “extremely strict, but extremely loving immigrant parents who had very high expectations, coupled with a deep foundation of unconditional love,” and she hoped to pass on the same model to her own children.

But, she said, she realized, almost too late, that her methods would not work on her younger daughter, who like her, “was a firebrand from the very beginning.”

This daughter, she said, was her comeuppance who locked horns with her from day one until they had a showdown.

As I previously mentioned, I get that dynamic. My father and I started arguing when I was in the second grade — over long division tables — and I think we both realized right then that I would not be the obedient, quiet daughter he wanted. The tension built up for years, reaching a crescendo on a family vacation to California when I was a teenager, with us almost coming to blows over having to replace a ripped contact lens for me.

Those were some dark days. But light eventually broke through. I went away to college — at least a plane ride away.

What I got from Friday night’s reading:

Chua wants, more than anything, for her kids to be confident, happy, social, independent and close to her. And she thinks she’s succeeded, but not without a considerable amount of challenges. “The message is not, I don’t love you,” she said. “It’s not about grades, but to help your child be the best you can be. And it’s almost always better than what they think they can be.”

The message, she said, was: “I’m not going to let you give up.”

And maybe in his own way, that’s exactly what my father was trying to tell me.

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AAJA Seattle in 2010

Chapter President’s Report

Dear friends,

Happy holidays! As 2010 draws to a close, our chapter has many accomplishments to celebrate this year. It’s also that time of year to renew your membership and make a tax-deductible donation.

The chapter is blessed with a dedicated core of active members who see the value of this community. Our mission is to inspire the next generation of journalists, promote diversity and support media entrepreneurship. We focused our resources in 2010 on outreach, training and mentoring – and you responded.

Our membership increased from about 80 members in 2009 to more than 100 members in 2010. More students are joining our chapter, as are non-traditional journalists, such as Alex Stonehill, co-founder of the Common Language Project and our keynote speaker at our Lunar New Year Banquet & Silent Auction.

Last year’s Lunar New Year fund-raiser at Tea Palace set a new attendance record, with more than 70 attendees. The chapter board was so pleased with the turnout, we’ve decided to hold our 2011 event there on Jan. 29. Save the date!

One of our key strategies in 2010 was partnering with other organizations to broaden our reach and expand local benefits to members.

The boards of SPJ Western Washington and AAJA Seattle agreed to offer each group’s members reciprocal rates on events to increase attendance and diversity. That gave our AAJA Seattle members access to SPJ’s fall training series and freelancer’s workshop at SPJ member rates.

AAJA Seattle also signed a partnership agreement with 911 Media, a non-profit provider of multimedia training, which provided our members with discounted rates and fellowships for students and professionals. Our first recipient of the fellowship was Carina del Rosario, a freelance photographer, who applied the fellowship toward a class in audio recording.

And our chapter collaborated with other local journalism organizations to broaden our reach and relevance: We provided financial or in-kind support to three regional conferences – Journalism That Matters, SPJ Regional Conference, and the Northwest Video Workshop.

We also provided financial and in-kind support to the newly launched Sea Beez ethnic media consortium, and the William O. Douglas SPJ chapter in co-hosting a “Choppy Waters” workshop for students at Central Washington University.

Finally, we collaborated with the Seattle chapter of the National Association of Asian-American Professionals (NAAAP) on two of their events and promoted the kickoff event of the local chapter of Hacks/Hackers, a journalism innovation group.

Speaking of innovation, our AAJA Seattle chapter held our inaugural Innovation Salon at the Seattle Art Museum in May. The classy event at SAM’s TASTE restaurant offered attendees appetizers, wine and tips on Twitter. We plan to hold another Innovation Salon in 2011. Stay tuned.

Acting on another strategic priority, the chapter this year stepped up its efforts to support the next generation of journalists: We held two student pizza nights (including a multimedia journalism night at the UW), judged student work at the Washington Journalism Education Association state conference and awarded four Northwest Journalists of Color scholarships and two Founders scholarships.

Three of our scholarship winners attended the AAJA National Convention and blogged about their experiences. Read what Peter Sessum, Mary Pauline Diaz and Katelin Chow wrote.

And after returning from a fantastic AAJA National Convention in Los Angeles,  we held an end-of-summer potluck in West Seattle’s Lincoln Park.

We also elected new officers for 2011. Here are your officers for next year:

President: Sanjay Bhatt, reporter, The Seattle Times
VP, Events: Caroline Li, editor,
VP, Programs: Owen Lei, reporter, KING 5
Treasurer: Mai Hoang, reporter, The Yakima Herald-Republic
Secretary: Venice Buhain, editor, Bellevue Patch

As you know, our National Board Representative Athima Chansanchai was elected to AAJA National Secretary to fill the remaining term of Doris Truong, who was elected AAJA National President. The chapter board is discussing its next step to fill Tima’s seat for the remainder of her term.

Speaking of national AAJA affairs, it’s been a challenging year. Fiscal crises threatened AAJA’s future, and all chapters, including ours, gave funds to stabilize the organization.

We can all be proud of our AAJA National President Sharon Chan and AAJA National Treasurer Candace Heckman for steering the national organization through the crisis and making tough decisions. Today AAJA has a strong executive director and is on steadier fiscal ground.

And in what could become an annual tradition, Sharon, Candace and Seattle Times Executive Editor David Boardman, who is also an AAJA Seattle member, organized an all-media Holiday Scoop party at Nectar that benefitted the Northwest Journalists of Color scholarship endowment.

I’d like to thank everyone who helped support the chapter in accomplishing its goals this year. Our event chairs deserve huge kudos: Caroline Li (Lunar New Year Banquet), Nicole Tsong and Mai Hoang (student workshops), Mai Hoang and Venice Buhain (scholarship application and judging), Karen Johnson (innovation salon), and Naomi Ishisaka (scholarships reception).

Our AAJA Seattle community is strong. We can meet any challenge by working together. Our continued success rests on your support, so please renew your membership, bring a colleague to our events and tell us how you’d like to get involved!

If you’re not already, I encourage you to follow us @aajaseattle on Twitter, join our Facebook group and check us out at

I wish you and yours a memorable holiday season and prosperity in the New Year!

In unity,

Sanjay Bhatt
President, AAJA Seattle chapter
Reporter, The Seattle Times

Sanjay Bhatt

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