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AAJA Seattle in 2009

Chapter President’s Report

Dear members,

This has been a year of great accomplishments for our Seattle chapter in the face of the worst recession in our lifetime. It’s because of you that we continue to take a stand for diversity in journalism, nurture students and support media entrepreneurship.

As we all know, 2009 was the year of convulsions for our industry as advertisers retrenched and everyone was affected either directly or indirectly by newsroom layoffs. Hearst Corp.’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the city’s oldest newspaper, published its last print edition on March 17 and laid off most of its staffers. Despite layoffs in 2008, The Seattle Times itself was on the brink of bankruptcy, and the staff agreed to painful concessions. Local television stations imposed wage freezes and eliminated jobs as well. Freelancers had a tougher time getting paid their usual rates and finding outlets for their work.

Yes, there were challenges and setbacks, but they didn’t extinguish our spirit.

Here are some of the highlights of 2009:

  • In February, AAJA Seattle held one of its most successful Lunar New Year fundraisers ever. Karen Johnson, managing editor of Seattlemag.com, coordinated a team of volunteers who pulled off the classy event, which was emceed by Q13’s Lara Yamada. Our National Board representatives generously covered our biggest costs: Athima Chansanchai donated the cost of renting the Wing Luke Museum’s gorgeous space, while Chris Nishiwaki donated the cost of wine.
  • Our “Choppy Waters” conference in January at the University of Washington’s Haggett Hall and “Reboot Your Career” workshop in March at Microsoft were a hit with attendees. A big shout-out to the UW’s Department of Communications for making Choppy Waters possible and to freelance writer James Tabafunda for working with me on organizing the entrepreneurship-focused program. Doug Kim, managing editor for Microsoft Office Online, took the initiative to offer a resume workshop for members hunting for jobs.
  • For the first time, AAJA Seattle partnered with the Seattle Association of Black Journalists (SABJ) to develop a video to inspire the next generation of journalists of color. Amy Phan, an editor for NorthWest Cable News, and Jessica Boyd, a former Northwest Journalists of Color recipient, produced the video. Lisa Youngblood-Hall, SABJ’s president, supervised the young producers.
  • We screened the video in June at the Northwest Journalists of Color scholarship reception at KING TV. The NJC scholarship program, run this year by Caroline Li, who publishes earthwalkersmag.com, awarded grants to Peter Sessum, Martha Flores Perez, Kassiopia Rodgers and Ilona Idlis.
  • At the AAJA National Convention in Boston, our Seattle chapter had a stellar turnout with 16 attendees, including Whitworth University student Yong Kyle Kim, this year’s recipient of the Founders scholarship. President Sharon Chan delivered an inspiring speech, and Marian Liu led the Voices Student Project with aplomb.
  • In another first, the Seattle chapter went to Vancouver, B.C., in September to support journalists of color there and establish ties with major media. Jennifer Chen, associate producer for CBC’s Early Edition, and Alden Habacon, manager of diversity initiatives for CBC Television, worked hard to put together a packed two-day itinerary that included newsroom tours, a panel discussion at the University of British Columbia’s Graduate Journalism School and a Lunar New Year-style dinner that brought out 60 local journalists.
  • And in November, AAJA launched the Asian American Small Market Broadcast Journalists group. Chapter member Shawn Chitnis, a reporter for KNDO TV in Yakima, is co-coordinator of the group.

These and other members of our Seattle chapter are the reason why AAJA Seattle is one of the best chapters in the country. Our members are also lucky to have an extremely dedicated board, and I want to thank this year’s officers for their service. If you’re interested in serving on our board in the future, please drop me a note.

We have reorganized and expanded our board, dropping the co-presidency and establishing two new positions – vice president for events and vice president for member programs. Many thanks to Venice Buhain, board secretary, for managing the restructure and chapter elections. Here are the chapter’s officers in 2010:

  • President: Sanjay Bhatt, reporter, The Seattle Times
  • Vice president for member programs: vacant
  • Vice president for events: Caroline Li, founder, Earthwalkers Magazine
  • Treasurer: Nicole Tsong, reporter, The Seattle Times
  • Secretary: Venice Buhain, reporter, The Olympian
  • National Advisory Board representative: Athima Chansanchai, founder/president, Tima Media

The board held a retreat recently at the home of Lori Matsukawa and Larry Blackstock and developed a roadmap for the chapter in 2010 and beyond.

As we look ahead, we will inspire the next generation of journalists, promote diversity and support media entrepreneurship. We will focus our resources on outreach, training and mentoring. We will strengthen the relationships we’ve built and develop new ones.

Next year we plan to launch a training series, hold social events with other professional groups, and sponsor pizza nights with journalism students at colleges and universities. We plan to send one, maybe even two, students to the AAJA National Convention, Aug. 4-7, in Los Angeles (and hope to see you there).

Have an idea for a chapter event? Come to a chapter business meeting! We plan to hold them every other month on the second Saturday. Subscribe to updates at www.aajaseattle.org.

There are many ways you can support AAJA: Become a member. Attend an event. Volunteer your time or expertise. Make a tax-deductible donation. This is your community.

Thank you and happy holidays!
Sincerely,

Sanjay Bhatt
President, AAJA Seattle
aajaseattle.org
sbhatt@seattletimes.com

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It’s official! Chan and Heckman to lead AAJA nationally

Posted on by sbhatt

AAJA Seattle officers Sharon Chan and Candace Heckman were elected to national offices yesterday, AAJA officials announced at Friday night’s gala banquet. Chan was elected AAJA National President and Heckman, National Treasurer.

Couldn’t make the Gala Banquet? Check out Sharon’s acceptance speech. Yes we Chan!

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