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Ethnic media web project, “Sea Beez,” launches

Posted on by sbhatt

Sea Beez project

On Wednesday evening, a new ethnic media web project held its launch party at The Seattle Times.

The project is led by AAJA member Julie Pham, who is managing editor of the family-owned Northwest Vietnamese News.

Sea Beez has its seed funding from the City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods and represents the newest “hive” for New America Media, the nation’s first and largest collaboration of 2,000 ethnic media organizations reaching 51 million adults. The NOLA Beez launched in January. The other hubs are LA Beez and San Jose Beez. LA Beez is part of a New America Media’s Digital Divide initiative, funded by the Ford Foundation.

Our AAJA Seattle chapter, the Seattle Association of Black Journalists and Chen Communications all co-sponsored the party.

About 80 people attended the event.  They included ethnic media executives:

  • Assunta Ng, founder and publisher of the NW Asian Weekly and Seattle Chinese Post
  • Gustavo Montoya, president and CEO of El Mundo, a Spanish-language weekly newspaper
  • Olga Kazakova, a journalist with Russian World Newspaper
  • Andrew Taylor, president of Japan Pacific Publications, which publishes The Soy Source Seattle, a Japanese biweekly newspaper
  • Mohamud Yussuf, publisher of Runta, the largest East African language newspaper in Seattle.
  • Grace Zhang, Seattle bureau chief for The China Press.
  • Sandy Close, executive director of New America Media.
  • The evening began with networking and attendees admiring The Seattle Times’ Pulitzer Prize winning stories. Thanks to AAJA student member Peter Sessum for shooting photos.

    Attendees read about previous Seattle Times Pulitzer Prizes

    The evening gave AAJA student members, like Andrew Doughman, a chance to practice networking and connect with editors looking for freelance contributors.

    UW journalism student Andrew Doughman is networking

    During the presentations, Julie explained the overall goals of the Sea Beez project.

    VIDEO: Two journalists reflect on JTM

    Thanks to Carina and Tima for agreeing to sit down with me for a quick interview! Both of them took part in a robust discussion of media access for ethnic communities.

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    Are the news needs of ethnic communities here being met?

    It’s amazing to me that there’s never been a meeting convened of all the ethnic media in the Pacific Northwest. We tried to get some editors and news directors to attend a recent conference at the University of Washington.

    The conference –  Journalism That Matters: Re-Imagining News & Community in the Pacific Northwest — brought together more than 200 people who have more than a passing interest in journalism. Many were former newspaper writers. Many also were community activists, artists, and educators. There were hardly any business development or marketing people present, and we really needed their voices in the conversation.

    Yours truly represented AAJA Seattle, and I was encouraged to see some people of color there. AAJA National Board representative Athima Chansanchai was there for most of the conference, as was Naomi Ishisaka, communications director for OneAmerica. So was Yuko Kodama, a producer for Reclaim the Media. There were visits from Assunta Ng, publisher of the Northwest Asian Weekly, and Diem Ly, editor-in-chief of The International Examiner.

    I organized a breakout session on Saturday morning by asking this question: What does the news ecology look like for AAPI communities in the Pacific Northwest and what new possibilities can we create?

    More than a dozen people joined the discussion. I am listing them all (in no particular order) because I am so grateful they took the time to participate (apologies to any latecomers I left out):

    • Kenneth Gillgren of Gillgren Communication Services
    • Caroline Li, AAJA Seattle VP of Events
    • Derek Wing, communications director for the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging
    • Sam Louie, a counselor at Asian Counseling and Referral Service
    • Rosalinda Mendoza, WA State Farmworker Housing Trust
    • Nicole Ciridon, Features Editor, The Daily (UW)
    • Tima Chansanchai, AAJA National Board representative
    • John Spady, CommunityForums.org
    • Jonathan Lawson, Reclaim the Media
    • Joaquin Uy, News and Public Affairs Director, KBCS 91.3 FM
    • Carina del Rosario, freelance writer/photojournalist
    • Naomi Ishisaka, communications director for OneAmerica

    We concluded with several important directions in which to go:

    – AAJA Seattle should convene a meeting of all ethnic media executives in the Pacific Northwest to discuss our needs and explore gaps in serving our communities. The mapping exercise may lead us to new possibilities.

    – Young minority students could be trained as part of Story Corps to carry out storytelling from their communities, and given opportunities to publish online. These youth could conduct valuable oral history projects by examining their own family and culture.

    – If time and resources were available, it would be useful to bring together community-based organizations, ethnic media and mainstream media for a wider ranging discussion about how do we improve media access. We agreed that a first step is to piggyback on an existing survey process to learn more about AAPI media access and usage in our market.

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