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AAJA member William Kim reflects on his UNITY experience

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In March I agreed to serve on a mentor board organized by Jerry Baldasty, chair of the University of Washington’s Department of Communication. Jerry paired me with William Kim, who graduated from the UW’s journalism program this year and attended the UNITY conference on a scholarship. I asked William to share his thoughts on his first national journalism conference with the chapter. Here’s what William has to say. If you would like to mentor a student or are looking for a mentor, please e-mail AAJA Seattle at info@aajaseattle.org.

— Sanjay Bhatt, AAJA Seattle Chapter Co-President


I didn’t know what to expect going to my first journalism conference, the UNITY: Journalists of Color Convention in Chicago. Nothing I heard or read about UNITY could prepare me for the overwhelming experience of a gathering of thousands of journalists. It was exciting to see so many notable names and faces gathered in one place, such as ESPN columnist J.A. Adande in a panel about broadcast sports journalism and Martin Bashir from ABC News giving a keynote speech at an AAJA banquet.

The overwhelming part was initially not knowing anyone when everyone else around me seemed to be catching up with each other. But that’s what conventions like these are for. The UNITY Convention in one word: networking. Every moment of the conference, whether it was at the convention center, on shuttle buses, or during dinners and parties, was an opportunity to make and update connections. Over four days, I met other journalists, from students to professionals, and learned from their experiences about what it takes to be a journalist in today’s society.

This opportunity to socialize and share experiences with other journalists from all around the country was a way to get a feeling for the state of journalism. Of course there was an overall gloomy disposition about the diminishing advertising revenue and newsroom cutbacks, especially for print. One reporter I talked to was very bitter that her 15 years of print experience was not going to count for much in an era of journalism where multimedia skills are becoming more crucial. This is why much of the focus of the workshops and panel discussions was geared towards developing digital media skills. I had a great opportunity to learn some basics of recording and editing video while following my mentor, Sanjay Bhatt, Seattle Times reporter, as he worked on a multimedia project for UNITY.

We worked on making an audio slideshow about the changing demographics of the south side of Chicago. In a predominately African American neighborhood called Bronzeville that’s steeped in culture and history, new condominium developments are bringing in strangers and some residents are worried the change will dilute the cultural value in the area. Exploring Bronzeville was the highlight of my UNITY experience because it was a chance to see a side of Chicago’s true face. It’s hard to absorb the unique culture of a place from only staying in the downtown area.

If there is one thing I take away from this conference, it’s that the adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” is very true. In that sense, I am glad to have attended this convention for the networking opportunities it gave me.

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What did you think of UNITY? Add your comments and photos

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So you’ve had a chance to get more than 3 hours of sleep. Maybe you’ve even had a chance to review the photos you took at UNITY. Please let the rest of us know what you thought of UNITY.

Upload your photos from UNITY to our AAJASEATTLE Flickr account or our Facebook page. PLEASE compress your pictures for the Web (less than 100 KB) and write captions telling us what we’re looking at. One word of caution: These accounts are public, so don’t post anything you wouldn’t want the entire world to see.

– Sanjay Bhatt, AAJA Seattle Co-President

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

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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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AAJA Seattle named Chapter of the Year!

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AAJA Seattle wins Chapter of the Year award

AAJA Seattle wins Chapter of the Year award

CHICAGO — The Seattle chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) has been named the 2008 Chapter of the Year, recognizing its success in establishing a $100,000 endowment for minority journalism scholarships.

Sanjay Bhatt, AAJA Seattle Chapter Co-President, accepted the award on behalf of the chapter. Bhatt co-chaired the past two years’ endowment campaigns, which culminated last year with a record-setting $45,000 in donations. The typical individual donation was $100, but people gave as little as $10 and as much as $7,500.

“I’m honored to accept this award on behalf of all AAJA Seattle members, who have demonstrated their commitment to encouraging tomorrow’s journalists of color,” Bhatt said. “I also want to thank all of our donors, whose generosity allowed us to achieve our vision.”

The endowment supports AAJA Seattle’s Northwest Journalists of Color (NJC) program. The NJC scholarship was started in 1986 by local leaders like Lori Matsukawa (KING TV), who raised $5,000 each year to fund the scholarships. NJC has awarded scholarships to more than 100 student journalists. NJC alumni have gone on to work at major news organizations, such as The Seattle Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Associated Press, CBS News and Sony Pictures.

The endowment drive kicked off four years ago under the leadership of then-AAJA Seattle Chapter President Sharon Chan, who is running for AAJA National President. Seattle’s success story can be replicated, says Chan, who will lead a national AAJA endowment campaign dubbed “The Power of One.”

“What Seattle’s success simply shows,” Bhatt said, “is that individuals — co-workers, friends and family — support diversity in our profession. It’s our job to give them a concrete way to express that belief in our mission.”

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Opportunities for AAJA Seattle members to meet up at UNITY

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1) WEDNESDAY at 2 pm at AAJA’s Fundraising meeting. Go to top floor of the hotel and look for the AAJA President’s suite.

2) WEDNESDAY at 4:30 pm before the UNITY CEREMONY, which starts at 5 p.m. in the Skyline Ballroom at McCormick Place West. Look for Chapter Secretary Venice Buhain, who will be outside the ballroom. Other chapter officers will be reserving a bank of seats inside.

3) THURSDAY at 9:30 p.m. at SHARON’s BIRTHDAY PARTY at Crimson Lounge.

4) FRIDAY at 12:30 p.m. at the AAJA GENERAL MEMBERSHIP meeting. McCormick Convention Center / W192C/McCormick Place West, 2391 South Lake Shore Drive.

5) FRIDAY at 6:30/6:45 p.m. to save tables at the AAJA GALA BANQUET, Hyatt Regency Chicago / Grand Ballroom, 151 East Wacker Drive.

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