2017 President’s Message

Dear AAJA family,

AAJA has celebrated many successes in the past four years. As Paul Cheung described in his presidential farewell message, we hosted our first Asian American Presidential Town Hall, secured $400,000 to fund a new Criminal Justice Reporting Project, and achieved many more milestones. Looking back, our organization has a lot to be proud of.

But, as an industry, we are facing unprecedented challenges. The public’s trust in our news institutions is at a historic low, while the public’s perception of media bias has reached perilous heights. AAJA exists to help tackle these issues. We empower student and professional journalists around the world so they have the support, training and community to counter prejudice in and outside of their newsroom.  

And this year, we have three key initiatives to help further our mission. 


Our decades-old organization is ready for a redesign. We have incredibly talented members, but our brand identity doesn’t quite capture the caliber of creativity, ingenuity, and influence that exists in our organization. As we redesign our logo, website, and upgrade our member management system this year, our goal is to create an identity that expresses who we are and the impact we want to have on our industry.


Like many Americans, journalists are increasingly traveling and working abroad. It is essential for AAJA to serve and meet our members where they are. By following the success of AAJA’s Asia chapter, we hope to expand our membership and resources in areas like Europe and Latin America in the next few years.


According to ASNE’s annual survey, the number of journalists of color working in daily newspaper newsrooms has only grown by six percent in the past twenty years (1997- 11%; 2016 – 17%). Changing the status quo is long and arduous, but there may be other solutions. Our goal is to help cultivate a culture of media entrepreneurship in journalism and empower people to build their own products, brands, and media companies. This may be our most ambitious project, but we need your feedback. If you’re interested in contributing to these three initiatives in any way, please send me a message at YvonneL@aaja.org.    

A writer once said, “Every change necessitates a betrayal.” Periods of transition require trade-offs, but they can also be opportunities to reflect, reset and reimagine our future. I’m honored to be working with our executive director Kathy Chow, AAJA national staff, governing board, chapter leaders, and you, to continue growing this organization. Support our mission by renewing your membership, attending this year’s national convention, or donating to our signature programs. Engage in a movement that I believe will transform journalism for generations to come.

In unity,

Yvonne Leow

AAJA National President