Doris Truong Remarks at UNITY12 Opening Session
[Here’s looking at you, UNITY12! This is the photo I took while onstage.]
As prepared for delivery at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on Aug. 1, 2012:
Good evening! I am Doris Truong, a multiplatform editor at The Washington Post and the national president of the Asian American Journalists Association.
It is an honor to lead the 31-year-old Asian American Journalists Association.
Without the existence of AAJA, editorial cartoonists might believe it’s acceptable to caricature one of their own writers as a kamikaze pilot. Radio talk show hosts might think that mocking native Mandarin speakers will go unchallenged. And, without AAJA, a generation of young Asian Americans might not have considered becoming journalists because they thought the only career paths open to them were those of doctor, lawyer or engineer.
I came to AAJA in college, and in the 16 years of my involvement, i have watched this organization expand its reach. We have more than 500 graduates of our JCamp for high school students, and we have more than 300 alumni of our Executive Leadership Program. We have 21 chapters and more than 1,600 members. We have top newsroom leaders in AAJA’s ranks, including newspaper publishers and TV news managers. We have a strong entrepreneurial spirit, with documentary filmmakers in our ranks. And we are all connected by our common passion for journalism and our belief in the importance of news diversity.
It’s more critical than ever for newsrooms to reflect the changing face of America. Earlier this summer, Pew Research reported that Asian Americans are becoming the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population.
And yet, when an athlete like Jeremy Lin does his job — drives to the hoop, puts points on the board for his team and gives credit where it’s due — some people focus on his ethnicity, as though athleticism and Asian Americans do not go together.
This is 2012.
We ought to know better.
But I’m not here to criticize. I’m here to help. I’m proud to announce a full updating of AAJA’s “Handbook to Covering Asian America.” when it was first released in 2000, it was a slim paperback, about the size of a reporter’s notebook. Now, it spans several hundred entries, from “alien” to “yellow skin.”
You’ll find our handbook at AAJA.org.
Take a look around you today. We are at the most diverse gathering of journalists this year. Members of AAJA have traveled from around the world for this convention. The global marketplace is expanding, but social media actually makes our planet smaller — and offers us more job opportunities.
Plenty of folks are showing off their Twitter handles on their name badges, but this is your chance to make an impression in real life. In these turbulent times for our industry, the people who know you are the ones most likely to offer you a lifeline.
I urge you all to make the most of this historic gathering. When the UNITY convention ends, i want you to have four times the connections you had when you arrived. Go home feeling energized and recommitted to our noble cause. As the founding dean of the Missouri School of Journalism said, “I believe in the profession of journalism.”