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Sharon Chan’s Year-End Aloha Message

Dear friends,

I still remember waking up to a flood of e-mails in March 2009. An Asian American journalist, Roxana Saberi, had been detained in Iran. We sprang into action. We called for her release.

Two weeks later, another flood of e-mails. Laura Ling and Euna Lee had been arrested in North Korea while reporting along the border. Again, we spoke out. We weren’t sure they would ever be free.

This August, Roxana shared my hotel room and her experience with you. Laura and Euna shared our dinner table and what it was like to wait in a prison cell.

Embracing Laura, Euna and Roxana, surrounded by our founders, members and students where AAJA was founded, was the most profound moment of my term.

Think about how far we’ve come in the past two years. Not just Laura, Euna and Roxana. AAJA.

Thank you for the opportunity and the privilege to serve you.

I have always been passionate about our mission of diversity. But watching newspapers fold and seeing our friends get laid off these past two years made me realize that diversity is more than just important–it’s the answer to fundamental challenges facing our business. This industry needs diversity of perspectives, skills, technology, revenue and platforms.

We rode this economic rollercoaster and AAJA has emerged stronger than ever. We changed executive directors and we are now headed into AAJA’s 30th year with the excellent Kathy Chow at the helm. We are projected to end 2010 with a $399,000 surplus, compared to a $207,000 deficit last year. We repaid our $154,000 endowment loan, plus interest above U.S. prime lending rate. Our membership has stabilized at 1,500. We added another star to the flag–AAJA Denver is our 21st chapter. We continue to innovate with our ELP Media Demonstration Projects with new business models and new platforms for delivering news.

Your new president Doris Truong will take AAJA to amazing new heights. I love Doris for her dedication to AAJA, passion for our mission and gunner work ethic, and I am honored to get to keep working with her as UNITY vice president.

There are so many people to thank–first off, you, for being a member. Also: our dream team of national officers, dedicated AAJA Governing and Advisory Board members, chapter presidents who came in with financial support for AAJA in a tough economy, our passionate J Camp, ELP and Voices program directors, our veteran members who served on task forces and committees, the younger generation of leaders mentoring and supporting each other, our tireless staff and our sponsors who make it all possible.

A very special thank you goes to The Seattle Times, our publisher Frank Blethen and my executive editor David Boardman. In a time of utmost financial duress, the company paid for my travel and gave me the time to serve you. The history of support for diversity here is long and it is steadfast. The people who first folded me into the AAJA flock all came from this newsroom: former AAJA national officers Janet Tu and Mark Watanabe, Doug Kim and grizzly man Alex Macleod.

My final requests to you: Renew your membership. Make a donation to AAJA Power of One. Save the date for our 2011 convention in Detroit, Aug. 10-13.

Reach out and lean in.

In unity,
Sharon Pian Chan
Staff Reporter, Seattle Times
AAJA National President

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