AIR goes to AAJA17 in Philly

Jia Lynn Yang, Subrata De, Juju Chang and Paul Cheung

AAJA17 speakers: Jia Lynn Yang, Subrata De, Juju Chang and Paul Cheung | Photo © Heidi Chang

AIR goes to AAJA17 in Philly
By Heidi Chang

Attendance was up this year at the Asian American Journalists Association national convention, which was held in Philadelphia, July 26 to 29, drawing more than 800 journalists from around the country and the world.  Its theme was Rise and Revolutionize.  For me, it was an honor to represent the Association of Independents in Radio as an AIR Ambassador and also organize its first meet up at the conference.  But first, here’s a glimpse of some of the workshops, interesting speakers and people who came to AAJA17.

In a session called Real Talk on Building Career Paths in Journalism, veteran journalists talked candidly, off record, about the challenges journalists face in navigating their way in a turbulent industry. Paul Cheung, the Director of Visual Journalism at NBC News, moderated the panel featuring  Jia Lynn Yang, The Washington Post Deputy National Security Editor; Subrate De, ABC News V.P. Multi-Platform Newsgathering; and ABC News anchor, Juju Chang.

Competition to “get” major interviews can be pretty intense, so how do journalists secure interviews with the most sought after newsmakers?  A workshop titled Securing the Exclusive: Savvy Booking Tips by CBS, offered some insight.

“Be authentic,” said Nancy Kramer, an Executive Story Editor at CBS News “48 Hours,” who’s also worked as a producer for “60 Minutes.”  Sometimes your honest approach and doggedness can pay off.”

CBS News “Sunday Morning” Entertainment Editor, Ramon Parkins, encouraged journalists to have empathy and “learn how to trust your own opinion.”  “I love music,” said Parkins, who shared how he managed to produce some of the earliest stories on Adele and Norah Jones.

“Getting on the scene as quickly as possible is where you’re going to find voices for your story,” said Lulu Chiang, CBS News Senior Producer, who covered the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. She added, “Not being overaggressive humans” helps. “Open your heart… Trust, goes a long way.”

CBS News speakers: Nancy Kramer, Anam Siddiq, Ramon Parkins and Lulu Chiang

CBS News: Nancy Kramer, Anam Siddiq, Ramon Parkins and Lulu Chiang | Photo Heidi Chang

 

Another panel gave tips on How to Ask the Right Questions and Nail Your Live Interview.  “Don’t ask, ‘What happened?'” said KTVU Reporter Jana Katsuyama. Instead, she advised, “ask, ‘What did you see? What did you hear. Try to be specific.'”


Public Media friends like Marcello Sawyer, HR Manager at American Public Media, also got folks thinking…
For the latest public media job listings, check out thinkpublicmedia.org.

 

For the past seven years Keith Woods, has played a leading role in shaping NPR’s vision and strategy for diversity as its VP for Newsroom Training and Diversity.  He spoke at a session called, Get Woke! How to Combat Diversity Issues in the Workplace.

Heidi Chang with Keith Woods, NPR

Heidi Chang with Keith Woods, NPR

 

In these racially charged times, it’s more important than ever for newsrooms to reflect our nation’s diversity and our communities, but reaching that goal continues to be an ongoing struggle. Student journalists in the AAJA Voices program did a reality check, publishing their latest findings in the report, titled, Missed deadline: The delayed promise of newsroom diversity.

There weren’t any audio-centric panels, but several radio journalists and podcasters spoke at a workshop on Pitching Race and Identity Stories for a Mainstream Audience: Alex Laughlin, BuzzFeed Podcast Producer; Kat Chow, NPR’s Code Switch Reporter: and Stephanie Foo,”This American Life Producer” Producer, who was an AIR New Voices Scholar in 2010.

Alex Laughlin, Kat Chow, Stepahnie Foo

 

While talking with Nicole Wong, Sr. Producer at Gimlet Creative team, she told me, “I think there’s a lot of opportunities for people craving more storytelling in audio.”  She said the podcast network does use the AIR Talent Directory to contact people for tape syncs and to collaborate on projects.  Wong spoke at a session called, What Does It Take to Work at a Media Startup and How Do I Know If It’s for Me?

Heidi Chang with Nicole Wong, Gimlet

Heidi Chang with Nicole Wong, Gimlet

 

In between the workshops, many also checked out the career fair, where WNYC News Producer Richard Yeh represented New York Public Radio at the Public Media Village.

Richard Yeh, WNYC, and Heidi Chang

Richard Yeh, WNYC, and Heidi Chang

 

Due to cutbacks and the changing media landscape, more and more, media companies are hiring journalists on contract vs. hiring them for a staff job.  Some have also chosen to remain independent or freelancers.  Broadcast journalist E. Samantha Cheng moderated a workshop on The Realities of Being A Free Agent, featuring Rick Quan, the first Chinese American sportscaster in the country, who’s a freelance KGO TV sports anchor/reporter and documentary producer; and Joz Wang, a digital entrepreneur and Editor-in-chief/CEO of 8Asians/com.

AAJA17 Speakers: Joz Wang, Rick Quan and E. Samantha Cheng | Photo © Heidi Chang

AAJA17 Speakers: Joz Wang, Rick Quan and E. Samantha Cheng | Photo © Heidi Chang

 

AAJA Photojournalists co-director Alex Wong helped organize a panel on Lessons From Photographing Standing Rock. “It’s important because the Standing Rock protests were about an underrepresented minority group fighting to protect their water source.  Water is their life,” said Wong, a photographer for Getty Images.

NPR Visuals Editor, Ariel Zambelich, moderated the discussion featuring Freelance Photographer Angus Mordant, Minneapolis Star Tribune Photographer Richard Tsong-Taatari and and The Greenville News Photographer Josh Morgan, who were all deeply moved by their experience covering the fight against the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.  As they reflected on the challenges they had to overcome, they shared a slideshow of their compelling images.

Angus Mordant photographed scenes of destruction and snow during the Standing Rock protest.

Angus Mordant photographed scenes of destruction and snow during the Standing Rock protest.

 

Richard Tsong-Taatrii photographed kids playing in the water while covering the Standing Rock protest.

Richard Tsong-Taatrii photographed kids playing in the water while covering the Standing Rock protest.

 

“It was an incredibly empowering movement for the Native American community,” is how Josh Morgan put it.

Josh Morgan photographed the Dakota Access pipeline protesters, or water protectors, as they preferred to be called, as they hiked into a construction site in the rolling hills of North Dakota.

Josh Morgan photographed the Dakota Access pipeline protesters, or water protectors, as they preferred to be called, as they hiked into a construction site in the rolling hills of North Dakota.

 

Each year, the conference winds up with a Gala Scholarship and Awards Banquet, which honors the National Journalism Award Winners, and also pays tribute to those who’ve made a difference in the community and helped pave the way.

This year, Nick Ut, one of the heroes of photojournalism, won the Lifetime Achievement Award.  After his older brother died doing a photo assignment for The Associated Press, he took up the calling, and was wounded several times covering the Vietnam War.

Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Nick Ut holding his photo of the “Napalm Girl.” | Courtesy Nick Ut

Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Nick Ut holding his photo of the “Napalm Girl.” | Courtesy Nick Ut

 

In 1973, Ut won a Pulitzer Prize for his photo of the “Napalm Girl.” He captured the nine-year-old fleeing her village after it had been bombed with napalm, the fire burnt off her clothes and severely burned her body.  But before Ut delivered his film, he took Kim Phuc to the hospital. “After I took the picture, I knew she could die, that’s why I took her to hospital. I didn’t want her to die,” Ut told me. “I’m so happy she’s still alive.” After 51 years with AP, Ut retired this Spring, and remains an inspiration for many.

During the Gala, we also heard from two keynote speakers, Eddie Huang and Rich Cho.

Eddie Huang is best known for his memoir, “Fresh Off the Boat,” which was turned into an ABC TV sitcom, and became the first network show starring an Asian American family in decades. The author is also a TV host, producer, chef and restaurateur, fashion designer and attorney.

Eddie Huang

Keynote speaker Eddie Huang | Photo © Heidi Chang

 

Rich Cho is the first Asian-American general manager in NBA history. Cho served as General Manager of the Portland Trail Blazers in 2010-11, and is now in his fifth season as the GM of the Charlotte Hornets.  Not bad for a native of Burma, who immigrated to the United States with his family in 1968 when he was three years old.

Rich Cho, Charlotte Hornets GM | Photo © Heidi Chang

 

It was great catching up with our fellow journalists, and also being there to support each other.  Just before the Gala, we had fun at our AIR mixer, mingling with friends from radio, TV, digital media and multimedia, and the AAJA Radio and Podcasting Group.  It’s always exciting to learn something new, make new friends and come back with fresh ideas. Some folks also took home a cool T-shirt that says “Making The World More Beautiful Through Sound.”

Congratulations to the 5 winners of an AIR T-shirt at our meetup. L to R top: Lauren Hardie, freelance copy editor at The Daily Beast; Steve Bryant, PR consultant at WEPB, West Philadelphia Community Radio. L to R bottom: Ruby de Luna, KUOW Reporter; Rahul Bali, Coordinator of AAJA Radio & Podcasting Group; and Sarah Eden Wallace, multimedia journalist.

Congratulations to the 5 winners of an AIR T-shirt at our meetup. L to R top: Lauren Hardie, freelance copy editor at The Daily Beast; Steve Bryant, PR consultant at WEPB, West Philadelphia Community Radio, Ruby de Luna, KUOW Reporter; Rahul Bali, Coordinator of AAJA Radio and Podcasting Group; and Sarah Eden Wallace, multimedia journalist.

 

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