Hawai‘i #AAJA21 Student Scholarship Recipient Recaps Virtual Convention

Krista Rados received AAJA Hawai‘i’s #AAJA21 scholarship. Rados is a journalism and anthropology student at UH Mānoa. She’s also the 2021-22 editor-in-chief of Ka Leo O Hawai‘i, UH Mānoa’s student newspaper. Below is a recap of her experience attending this year’s virtual AAJA convention.


Krista Rados, 2021 recipient of AAJA Hawai‘i’s #AAJA21 scholarship

When I found out that I had received the #AAJA21 student scholarship earlier this year, I was honored for the opportunity to attend my first major conference and to learn more about ethical reporting from a diverse range of journalists in the field.

As an Asian American who grew up in a rural part of Idaho, I often found it difficult to seek inspiration from professionals who looked and acted so different from me. As I move forward into a professional career of my own now, I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to attend a convention like #AAJA21, where diversity was encouraged and not feared.

What surprised me most about the #AAJA21 session topics were that they weren’t exclusively about Asian Americans. Panelists advocated for any and all discussion regarding Latinx, Black, Native American and specific Pacific Islander issues circulating the newsroom in this present day

One of my favorite sessions of the weekend was the conversation with Rashida Jones, the president of MSNBC and the first Black woman to lead a major cable news network. Jones shared about how she, like me, felt the aftershocks of being a minority in her early years of the education system. She explained how she has since learned to turn those negative racial generalizations and stereotypes upside down so that race is now highlighted, and not hidden, in her company.

Nāʻālehu Anthony (top right) participates in a #AAJA21 panel called “Voices from Communities and the People That Cover Them.

As the Editor-in-Chief of Ka Leo O Hawai‘i, the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s student run newspaper, my goal has been to amplify all voices, but especially those of Native Hawaiian Pacific Islanders (NHPI), who make up only about 17% of the campus population. In the session, “Voices from communities and the people who cover them,” Nāʻālehu Anthony, a Native Hawaiian documentary filmmaker, spoke to us about how people in minority communities need to be empowered to tell their own stories because they are the only ones who can avoid generalizations about their culture. He advised non-native journalists to, at the very least, have a good understanding of the topic before reporting on it.

People often consider Hawai‘i a ‘mixing pot’ of culture, and Anthony is optimistic that people on the island have more patience with race than in other U.S. states. I feel inspired by his positivity to now enter Hawai‘i’s local journalism community knowing that there are people, like Anthony, who have faith in bringing native voices back to the foreground of essential storytelling.

– Krista Rados