January 6, 2022

The header image on #VeryAsian's site, which was created in response to a racist phone call Michelle Li's TV station received after she shared the traditional Korean food she eats to celebrate the New Years.

  • New Year's Letter from AAJA President Michelle Ye Hee Lee
  • Updates: #VeryAsian, spring internship application opens
  • Upcoming Events: Learn about JCamp at our info session
  • #AAJAKudos & Resources: Oriini Kapaira makes history
  • Member Bylines: Marian Cha-Ming Liu’s new byline
  • Opportunities: 2022-2023 scholarship applications are open!

From AAJA President Michelle Ye Hee Lee:

Dear AAJA Family, 

2021 was an intense year, beginning with the Capitol riot one year ago today, to the continued violence against AAPIs amid new variants of COVID-19, the Atlanta spa shooting, and more. Globally, we saw the aftermath of the U.S. leaving Afghanistan, unrest in Myanmar, democratic crackdowns in Hong Kong, increase in the detainment of journalists, and the ongoing spread of misinformation and disinformation. 

As we enter year three of the global pandemic, we’re still grappling with uncertainties that make us feel like we’re standing in quicksand. Return-to-work policies keep shifting, the omicron variant is spreading, virtual schooling is exhausting, and a return to “normalcy” seems to drift away further every time it feels closer than before. 

But I’m entering 2022 with cautious optimism. 

The throughline that united and strengthened us through the challenging 40th year of AAJA’s existence was just that: us. We are 2,000+ members strong and financially growing. We prioritized mental wellness. Our chapter and affinity group leaders stepped up for our members. We revamped the awards procedure to intentionally recognize journalism and journalists who reflect our mission. We held our second virtual convention. We conducted 65+ interviews with trailblazers in AAPI journalistic history for our 40th anniversary oral history project. And we saw our friends and colleagues elevated into top roles in newsroom leadership. 

We start this year with reinvigorated pride in our AAPI identities, with resolve to bring our authentic selves to all we do and on behalf of the communities we cover. In the face of xenophobia and racism that we face daily while simply doing our jobs, we unapologetically embrace being #VeryAsian.

And we recommit to our work holding companies and managers accountable when their workplaces are unsafe and unfair for our journalists; creating new spaces for the future generation of journalists; and speaking up for fair, accurate and thoughtful representation of all journalists and communities of color. 

We have a strategic plan, finalized after a year of fine-tuning with feedback from the board, AAJA leaders, and the membership to guide us for the next three years. We are so thrilled to see everyone at #AAJA22 (July 27-30) in our founding city of Los Angeles for our first in-person convention since 2019. 

What Ann Curry said during her AAJA oral history interview has stuck with me: “Don't think that what makes you different makes you unworthy or less worthy. It actually is a hyper-worthiness.”

Indeed, I hope 2022 is a year where the hyper-worthiness of the AAJA community leads to richer, deeper and illuminating stories that contribute to more thoughtful journalism that reinforces the belonging of our communities.

In unity,

Michelle Ye Hee Lee
AAJA National President



Presenting: Our three-year Strategic Priorities!
After over a year of collaboration and reflection within the AAJA community, we are proud to be sharing our three-year Strategic Priorities with communities beyond! Thank you to everyone who shared their ideas, time and experience. There is much to learn from the leadership of the past 40 years, and with these carefully crafted north stars to guide us, we’ll be doubling down on our mission and impact. See our Strategic Priorities in full.

We're proud to be #VeryAsian
We’re proud of Michelle Li and Gia Vang for bringing awareness to this incredibly common racist experience that AAPI journalists face on the job. Bringing your full self in the workplace should never lead to blatant racism. We join fellow AAPI journos in claiming #VeryAsian for ourselves. 

If you’d like to show your support for AAJA and AAPI journalists, consider buying a wearable from the veryasian.us pop-up project. All proceeds go to AAJA after costs.

Intern with AAJA-HQ this spring!
We're looking for Spring 2022 interns to work starting February 15. Timing has some flexibility, with a preference for those available through the summer, August 15. This internship offers a foray into a nonprofit space that aims to increase AAPI perspectives and representation in newsrooms, media, and storytelling. The internship provides hands-on experience supporting online events and project management. Find more information and apply here.

Submit Photos for AAJA's 40th Anniversary
To commemorate 40 years of AAJA, we're creating a book and microsite to celebrate our past accomplishments and to look toward the future. If you have some great photos from past AAJA events hiding in shoeboxes, in your attic or buried on your hard drive, we’d love to see them.


🗓 Upcoming Events

January 14 | AAJA-HQ
JCamp Informational Session Learn about AAJA's JCamp from Arelis Hernandez and Julia M. Chan, JCamp directors and program alumni. Time will be provided to address parent, student, or teacher questions. The 2022 JCamp application will open on Friday, January 7. The program starts in July 2022. Refer to AAJA's website for more updates. Register for the session here.

Newshub Live 430 presenter Oriini Kapaira takes a picture in her newsroom, making history as the first person to present news with a Māori tattoo.

Newshub Live 430 presenter Oriini Kapaira in her newsroom. Kapaira made history as the first person to present news with a Māori tattoo.

📓 News About News
AKA, our resources section.

#VeryAsian The Missouri Asian American Youth Foundation and artist Sara Wessels created their own #VeryAsian shirt, which you can find here!

diversity Chantal Flores explores the “no”s that investigative journalists of color face in a piece for Study Hall, “Who Gets To Investigate? How Journalists of Color Are Shut Out of Journalism." 

reflection AAJA members reflect on 2021 and look towards 2022: For Nieman Lab, Paul Cheung discussed business models in journalism; Anika Anand wrote about sustainability and “success stories”; and Julia Munslow explored journalism catered towards Gen Z. 

member feature AAJA member and Hmong American journalist Aaron Xiong wrote a feature on Chenue Her, one of his mentors who he connected with when Chenue was offering to sponsor AAJA student memberships, for the Minnesota Monthly.

👏 #AAJAKudos to...
Celebrate your achievements with us—tag @aaja on Twitter or let us know on Slack.


The day after the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., cleans up debris on the floor of the Capitol rotunda. Today marks one year since the insurrection. Photo by Andrew Harnik/AP

On Our List 📺📸📰🎧
Follow us on Twitter @aaja for more works on our radar from the AAJA community.

  • “America Is Not Ready For Omicron” by Ed Yong, The Atlantic
  • "A year after viral photo, Rep. Andy Kim reflects on being a ‘caretaker of our democracy’" by Kimmy Yam, NBC News
  • “Hidden Pentagon Records Reveal Patterns of Failure in Deadly Airstrikes” by Azmat Khan, The New York Times 
  • “Buying Influence: How China Manipulates Facebook and Twitter” by Muyi Xiao, Paul Mozur and Gray Beltran, The New York Times
  • “Here's what bell hooks' friends and colleagues want you to remember about her” by Jireh Deng, NPR
  • “The Power of Reclaiming My Asian Name” by Marian Cha-Ming Liu, The Washington Post
  • “What It’s Like To Leave Prison During A Pandemic” by Hannah Yoon and David Gonzalez, The New York Times
  • “American Girl releases first Asian American Girl of the Year doll” by Danielle Campoamor, NBC News 
  • “Here’s what some of Seattle’s chefs from different cultures eat to celebrate the New Year” by Jade Yamazaki Stewart, The Seattle Times 
  • "Stage & Studio: Reflections on 2021" by Dmae Lo Roberts, Oregon ArtsWatch

Visit AAJA Careers or follow @AAJACareers on Twitter to stay up-to-date on our career, internship and other opportunities. Check in with your AAJA chapters for more opportunities.


Did you produce (or consume) some great journalism recently? Put your work on our radar, so we can feature you in the next member highlights.

Collectively, we can celebrate 40 years of impact and contribute towards 40 more years of AAJA's mission of supporting and uplifting AAPI journalists. Donate today.

Asian American Journalists Association

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