Greetings from AAJA Chicago!

Chicago is a journalism town like no other. There’s a deep bench of media outlets — expanding constantly in ways that get your heart racing over the sheer possibilities of what they will produce — and a community of reporters, editors, freelancers, photojournalists, designers, researchers and all the other sleep-deprived, ink-stained wretches who will tell it like it is while doing anything they can to give their fellow comrades a leg up (just as long as it doesn’t involve a scoop). Like other cities, Chicago has stories tucked away in every nook and cranny, hidden in shadows, unable to see the light of day. The best of us coax those defining tales out and get them the attention they deserve. 

But sometimes we need a little help. 

Maybe you’re a newly minted college grad, testing the freelance waters while you search for that first great job. Perhaps you’ve put in your time, honed your craft, and want to share that hard-earned knowledge with the next crop of gumshoes. You might have a thousand questions; you might have no idea where to begin. Either way, AAJA Chicago wants to help.

The Asian American Journalists Association has been in Chicago since 1989. Linda Yu, an ABC-7 news anchor, and David Ibata, a former Chicago Tribune editor, formed the chapter in a time when journalism was nothing like it is today. It would be 17 years before Twitter became a website and Facebook went public. There was no World Wide Web. You didn’t catch an Uber to an assignment, and you couldn’t take your laptop with you to write a story on the fly. 

But there are other, bigger things that remain the same. Public officials still dodge reporters; a dogged determination for the truth remains as important as it ever was. Sports journalists have to catch the action and hold organizations accountable. Critics are still needed to lend their acerbic assessments, and we need copy editors to catch our thumbed typos now as much as we ever did. 

Newsroom diversity remains just as vital, and we still have a long way to go before the institutions of journalism have staffs that reflect the communities they cover. As it has been for generations, the news is always there, and it needs a sharp-witted, devoted, and uplifted legion of journalists to cover it in insightful, poignant and meaningful ways.

Since we, the 2020 board members of AAJA Chicago, were elected in December, we have worked toward becoming a chapter that can help its members do all that and more.

And while we knew we were facing a challenge, we hadn’t quite planned for a pandemic to get in the way. Despite it, we hope you enjoyed our first few events of the year, from our Lunar New Year mixer (in partnership with the Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association) to our virtual panel of journalists from the Chicago Tribune, WBEZ, NBC-5 and the Sun-Times sharing insight on how they cover communities of color in the city. Our summer intern, Siri Chilukuri, landed at Block Club Chicago just as unrest was boiling over onto city streets. This fall, Michael Lee, a graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism and Ohio State University, will be an AAJA-sponsored intern at the Sun-Times. 

We have so much more to come in 2020, but topping the list is the return of the AAJA Trivia Bowl, which long served as the chapter’s top fundraising event for our internship program. We hope you will consider taking part. 

In the meantime, we want to make sure AAJA Chicago is here for you. Our Facebook and Twitter pages are great ways to keep tabs on what we’ve got going on, but we hope this newsletter will help spread the word about all the great things happening in our little pocket of the universe. Below, you’ll find a calendar of upcoming events, some news of interest, and any job or event listings that have come our way.

Have a question? Is there something you’d like to see at AAJA Chicago? Email us at chicagoaaja@gmail.com. We’d love to hear from you. 

Until then, keep fighting the good fight. 

Nader Issa, president
Ariel Cheung, vice president
Taylor Moore, secretary/treasurer

UPCOMING EVENTS

A list of upcoming events

Join us for a virtual happy hour every first Thursday of the month. We’ll also be hosting an online workshop about data journalism Sept. 17. In October, we’ll assemble a panel of Chicago journalists to discuss how they navigate objectivity in journalism, followed by a freelancing workshop in November. To wrap up the year, our Trivia Bowl fundraiser makes a smashing return in December with a virtual battle royale of knowledge. Stay tuned for more information in coming weeks, and check out our AAJA Chicago Google calendar, which you can sync with your own online calendar for the most up-to-date information.

Chicago Journalists Association presents Millennials in Media

Sept. 15: The Chicago Journalists Association will be hosting its next virtual panel discussion, “Millennials in Media,” on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 6 to 7:30 p.m. The event will highlight Millennials who have carved a unique path in Chicago media, covering a diverse range of opportunities that — despite the rumors — still exist on the media landscape, from legacy newspapers, television and radio news, to digital startups. Panelists include Mina Bloom (Block Club Chicago), Angel Idowu (WTTW-TV’s “Chicago Tonight”), Nader Issa (Sun-Times/AAJA Chicago president) and Ankur Singh (Cicero Independiente). **RSVP required; email to chicagocja@gmail.com. A Zoom link will be send upon registration.**

NEWS OF INTEREST

  • Marc Lacey, national editor at The New York Times, penned an opinion article for NiemanReports reminding newsrooms that “white as default” should no longer be the way we think of our readers. “For too long, readers in the mainstream media have been presumed to be white. And the writer helpfully lets us know when someone or something strays from that norm. The writer points out that the mayor is Black. But the city councilman’s race is left unstated two paragraphs later. A neighborhood is described as predominantly Hispanic but another area has no racial identifier at all.”
     
  • The AP Stylebook has updated many of its entries on race-related coverage for its 2020 edition. We’ll post a full version of the list of changes on the AAJA Chicago Facebook page.
     
  • A early 2020 survey asked 101 former journalists of color to share their experiences, and the results are available on Source. Most said they exited the industry at a mid-career level, which author Carla Murphy says, “raises questions about the timing of diversity initiatives at the start of the career pipeline and their return on investment (ROI) for both the industry and communities that newsrooms serve.” Let’s discuss this article on the AAJA Chicago Facebook page — we’d love to hear your thoughts.
     
  • North of Chicago, unrest in Kenosha has been making national headlines. At the Kenosha News, one editor quit his job in protest of a headline used in coverage of a rally in support of Jacob Blake, during which, Blake’s father called for peace amid the unrest. The headline in question? “Kenosha speaker: ‘If you kill one of us, it’s time for us to kill one of yours.’” In a video he posted on Facebook after his resignation, Daniel J. Thompson said, “I did what I did because today is about Jacob Blake. It’s about his family, it’s about moving forward together peacefully, and I saw that today, and that headline did not reflect it. And when they refused to change it, I quit.”
  • Our AAJA Chicago secretary/treasurer, Taylor Moore, sparked an intense discussion on Twitter over equity in journalism pay and how perspectives of journalists of color are too often discounted or dismissed — until a newsroom needs to boost its diversity numbers. While much of the discussion centered on Chicago magazine, it’s important that, as Taylor put it, we look inward at our own newsrooms and reckon with the shortcomings we all must work to put right.

GET INVOLVED

  • AAJA Chicago wants to know how the chapter can better serve its members. Please take a few minutes to answer this survey and enter for a chance to win a $100 Panda Express gift card or a free T-shirt.
     
  • Follow fellow AAJA members on Twitter! To make it easy, @aaja_chicago now has a list of AAPI journalists in the Chicago area. You can find it here.
     
  • Has your AAJA membership lapsed? Renew your membership — or join today — at aaja.org/join. Memberships start at $25 for students and retirees, and being a member means free tickets to AAJA Chicago events, insider tips on job opportunities, and more!

OPPORTUNITIES

  • The Takeout is hiring a staff writer: The Takeout is looking to hire a staff writer. This is a Chicago-based position. Alongside the editor in chief and associate editor, you will shape and evolve The Takeout’s singular voice in food media. We like to publish stories that are practical and utilitarian, we satiate curiosity, and often we aim to surprise our readers.

    The Takeout is a food and pop culture site unlike any other, one that operates with an editorial philosophy of “why not?” Mostly though, The Takeout is a celebration of food and drink, from the media family that brought you The Onion and The A.V. Club. What other website holds fantasy food drafts, runs an advice column from a salty waitress, and pesters celebrities by asking them: Is a hot dog a sandwich? Apply here.
     
  • The Real Chi is hiring part-time beat reporters: Free Spirit Media’s West Side community newsroom, The Real Chi (freespiritmedia.org/realchiyouth), is currently looking to expand and find beat reporters to collaborate in our newsroom. This role would entail working in a fast-paced newsroom environment and covering news on the West Side that is not represented on the 10 o’clock news, including community initiatives, special events, arts and culture, sports, local business, schools and access, grass-roots organizing and local governance. This is an excellent opportunity for an emerging journalist looking to find a pathway into Chicago’s competitive media market.

    The Real Chi is a “learning newsroom” in North Lawndale for emerging journalists 18-25 year olds interested in learning to produce high-quality, solutions-oriented community journalism on the job. Our emerging journalists learn to use new media technology and print, audio and video mediums to interrupt and transform the one-note news coverage that Chicago’s black and brown communities receive. To apply, please e-mail resume, and two strongest media pieces to hr@freespiritmedia.org with subject line: Beat Editor, The Real Chi Candidate: {Your Name}. For more information, visit the AAJA Chicago Facebook page.
     
  • COVID-19 hardship fund for freelancers: The Rory Peck Trust has created a dedicated fund to provide practical and financial support to active freelance news journalists whose work and livelihoods have been directly affected by COVID-19. Successful applicants will receive a single grant of between £200-£500 ($266-$667 in U.S. dollars) to contribute to subsistence (home/food) costs for them and their dependents. For more information and to apply, visit the Rory Peck Trust website
     
  • Want our next newsletter to include your journalism job, internship, fellowship or other work opportunity? Email us at chicagoaaja@gmail.com.