3 reasons to go to AAJA national convention, by Yuri Nagano

By Yuri Nagano in Tokyo

I’m feeling energized coming back from the AAJA National Convention in San Francisco. It was my first AAJA convention since 2010 and next year’s convention in Vegas from August 10-14, 2016 is already on my calendar.

Here’s three reasons why the convention is worth flying all the way across the Pacific for.

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Many of my closest AAJA-Asia friends have moved back to the U.S. Like our annual New.Now.Next Media Conference in Asia, it’s dizzying to catch up with everyone because there is so little time and so many familiar faces.

I relished spending every minute with Hannah Bae, Lauren Hardie, Ramy Inocencio, Rina Nakano and hanging out with other AAJA-Asia ‘family’ I rarely see like Oanh Ha, Blessing Waung, Sean Lim, Ching-Ching Ni and Michael Logan.

It’s always good seeing Paul Cheung, Sharon Lee, Kathy Chow, Justin Seiter, Doris Troung, Bobby Calvan and Henry Moritsugu – some of our greatest AAJA-Asia advocates in the U.S.

We’re connected digitally 24/7 – yet it’s so much better in person.

New contacts were made. I’ve exchanged emails with Gil Asakawa in Colorado, but we’ve never met before. I also met many long-time AAJA leaders at the board-level meetings and I’m so glad I was able to make those new connections.


At the IRE investigative reporting workshop, I learned about search engines other than Google such as Duck Duck Go to dig up information and websites (e.g. Pipl) I can visit specifically for people searches. I’m looking forward to using the new tools in my own day-to-day work.

The same workshop had Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Ryan Gabrielson and CIR’s Bernice Yeung discuss their best practices in source building. In order to get sources to talk to you, the two recommends developing a relationship with sources, which can take time and may mean starting from chatting with them about the weather.


The Gala on Saturday was well worth sticking around for. The keynote speakers were two Asian American newsmakers and one of them was U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who was confirmed in December.

Murthy said mental health wasn’t discussed enough in the Asian American Pacific Islander community and needs to be a less closeted topic.

Then, he said gun violence was a public health issue in the U.S. and said he was disappointed his gun control remarks became a discussion point during the Senate confirmation.

Next, the Surgeon General said one of his biggest health concerns was that many American have lost faith in their abilities to heal themselves.

Finally, Murthy said happiness was the key to longevity.

(Read 3 Lessons from AAJA National Convention, by Sean Lim.)