AAJA Convention Guides: Frank Shyong, LA Times

Not sure how to start planning for this year’s convention? Get advice from AAJA-ers in the know: Frank Shyong, early-career print reporter.


My generation of print journalists faces an endlessly evolving industry. But for us the biggest change really has little to do with having to learn social media, data, mobile journalism or how to get pageviews.

It’s that there are fewer chances to grow in the craft that inspired us all to take up our notebooks. The aspiring investigative reporter, storyteller or beat writer today faces a sea of opportunities that won’t help him on his/her path. Many internships ask for tweets and web production but offer little opportunity to report. They graduate to a job market brimming with high-volume blogging jobs to apply for, but they find few open beats to cover.

We have to create and demand these opportunities for ourselves. Conventions like these teach us how and expose us to people facing the same challenges we are.

I’m looking forward to the NPR Storytelling Workshop on the Wednesday before the convention.. I fell in love with radio storytelling during long commutes, and I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to learn the craft from NPR journalists. I’m excited to come away with my own radio story and learn the tonally correct pronunciation of “NPR.”

On Thursday, you can find me at “Digging Deeper: Investigative Reporting with Tight Resources.” Among the speakers are Ron Lin, my colleague at the Los Angeles Times, and Adam Kealoha Causey, one of my mentors when I participated in the 2011 Voices convention news project in Detroit. These talented, dogged reporters specialize in the kind of methodical investigative journalism that is essential to the practice of democracy on a local level.

On Friday I’m excited for “Telling Stories With Google Fusion Tables.” I’ve been playing with Fusion Tables in my spare time and have been impressed by how it geocodes and plots a list of addresses on a map at the click of a mouse. I’m excited to learn what else the web application is capable of.

I’m also looking forward to getting face to face with Asia correspondents at “Journey to the East: Now is the Time.” Someday I’d like to report from China, and I’m hoping the speakers can offer some tips on how to get there.

My advice would be to meet as many new people as you can – and not just to network for future jobs, but because everyone you meet is a future collaborator.

Bio: Frank Shyong is a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. His work has appeared in the Orange County Register, Entertainment Weekly, The Taipei Times, and in his hometown, at the recently shuttered Nashville City Paper in Tennessee. Twitter: @frankshyong