Remarks at AAJA’s Scholarship and Awards Gala
As prepared for delivery Aug. 13, 2011, at the Detroit Renaissance Center:
I’m Doris Truong, a multiplatform editor at The Washington Post, and your AAJA national president.
It is an awe-inspiring challenge to head up this wonderful organization as we celebrate our first 30 years and map our course for the next 30 years.
A whole generation of journalists has grown up with the incredible support of network of people who not only share their cultural identity but who also share an intense passion for the craft of journalism.
I wouldn’t be here today were it not for the mentorship and encouragement of my AAJA family.
I would like to recognize this year’s convention co-chairs, Ankur Dholakia and Frank Witsil. Since we’re in the Motor City, I can’t resist automotive analogies. Ankur and Frank have been the pistons driving the engine of our 22nd-annual convention.
I would also like the 28 members of AAJA’s national Advisory Board to stand and be acknowledged. These are your national officers, your chapter delegates and your at-large board representative. They make sure every day that we have a two-way street of communication in this organization. These hard-working board members are the gasoline that fuels the AAJA motor.
Would the presidents of our 21 chapters also stand? In particular, I would like the salute AAJA-Denver, the latest star in the AAJA flag.
Thirty years ago, six forward-thinking journalists met in Los Angeles to talk about their shared issues as Asian Americans and how together, their voices would be more effective than they would ever be as individuals. Today, we are 1,400 members strong, spanning the United States and with a steadily increasing presence in Asia, too. The chapter presidents are the wheels driving us forward into our next 30 years.
The road to AAJA’s first 30 years is built on the backs of many great leaders. Some of my predecessors as AAJA National President are in attendance. Please join me in thanking Lloyd LaCuesta, Esther Wu and Sharon Chan.
AAJA is an organization largely powered by the blood, sweat and, yes, sometimes tears of our volunteers, but we simply could not function on all cylinders without the tremendous support of our national staff. Please stand, Kathy Chow, Antonio Salas, Annabelle Udo-O’Malley, Nao Vang, Marcia Santillan, Glenn Sugihara and Karen Sugihara. I would also like to acknowledge AAJA’s former executive directors who are here tonight: Valerie Bush, Lisa Chung and Rene Astudillo.
As AAJA powers forward, we are in a caravan with others who share our mission of diversity in news and newsrooms. Our partners in this charge are many, but here tonight are Joanna Hernandez, president of UNITY: Journalists of Color, and Gregory Lee Jr., newly elected president of the National Association of Black Journalists.
What has AAJA accomplished since we were gathered in Hollywood last year? We have been a steadfast advocate for diversity and for the importance of a free press. Earlier this year, my friend Dorothy Parvaz, a reporter with Al-Jazeera English, was detained in Syria. AAJA was among the first organizations to organize a call for her release. We cheered when she returned to us safely.
When disaster struck in Japan, AAJA’s members were quick to respond. Tomoko Hosaka, Martyn Williams and Steve Herman provided invaluable reports from the scene as other AAJA members rushed to give voice to the voiceless. Many AAJA chapters also rallied to raise funds to provide help overseas.
The journalism industry still faces a few potholes. Despite a slowdown in the hemorrhaging of jobs, mainstream newsrooms continue to contract and journalists of color continue to lose ground. AAJA is working with our partners to make sure that journalists don’t turn to other careers when jobs in our industry are out there. Sometimes, people just need a signpost to the next employment on-ramp, and AAJA is here to point the way.
Helping to increase the visibility of our members, we have the AAJA Men of Broadcast calendar. We have 16 outstanding examples from our membership to help remind you of the importance of newsroom diversity every day in 2012 and beyond. Be sure to buy your calendars in Detroit so you can get their autographs.
In closing, I would like to circle back to the importance of this year in AAJA history. This is our 30th anniversary. Some of us with gray hairs in the room will remember a time when “30” signified the end of a story. But 30 is only the beginning for AAJA. I challenge you to donate to join me in donating to AAJA’s Power of One, but multiply it by 30. Follow the example of Simon Li, this year’s Leadership in Diversity winner. Not all of us can give $30,000, but all of us can pay it forward with 30 seconds to tweet about AAJA, 30 minutes to reach out to a fellow member or $30.
Together, we can keep AAJA strong. Because AAJA is not about just one person, it’s about all of us, in the HOV lane, navigating a smooth road to the future.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve as your president, and thank you for supporting AAJA and our diversity initiatives.
AAJA’s in Detroit!
Our 22nd-annual convention is underway.
We are thrilled to be in the Motor City! (And Motown seems happy to see us, too!)
2 More AAJA Convention Testimonials
You have only 1 week left to pre-register at a great rate to join the Asian American Journalists Association this summer when we converge for the 3 D’s: Digital. Diversity. Detroit!
Who are some people you might meet during the convention, Aug. 10-13?
Callie Crossley of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard:
“I am recruiting, and I know I will find some excellent candidates. … I want to get more into our program — it’s the best deal in town. I also go because there are some thought-provoking plenary sessions, panel discussions and workshops. AAJA is always very well organized. … I enjoy networking and mixing and mingling among the people, so I look forward to it!”
Kaustuv Basu of Florida Today and the AAJA-Florida chapter:
“AAJA changed my life 10 years ago with a mentorship program. Come to Detroit this August to see what AAJA can do for you!”
What are you waiting for? Register today!
I’m off to Motor City — my first visit to the Mitten! — to meet some of AAJA’s sponsors for our 2011 national convention and to scope out the sights, including the Arab American National Museum, where we’ll kick off a week of journalism training in the heart of a diverse community.
The AAJA Board of Directors is also meeting this week. If you have thoughts on how we can serve you better, please drop me a line.