Asian American Journalists Association Chicago

Asian American Journalists Association Chicago

The Chicago chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association was formed in 1989 by Linda Yu, a former ABC-7 news anchor, and David Ibata, a former Chicago Tribune editor. The chapter's guiding mission is to educate, advocate for and support AAPI journalists in the Midwest, promoting diversity programs, offering career

Asian American Journalists Association Chicago

The Chicago chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association was formed in 1989 by Linda Yu, a former ABC-7 news anchor, and David Ibata, a former Chicago Tribune editor. The chapter's guiding mission is to educate, advocate for and support AAPI journalists in the Midwest, promoting diversity programs, offering career advice and development workshops, partnering with other journalist organizations, and fostering networking among AAJA members nationwide. Our internship program provides funds and pairs AAPI student journalists with Chicago news organizations that provide real newsroom experience that has proven invaluable to the young journalists' careers and empowers them to cover issues that resonate with their AAPI community. We promote better AAPI representation in journalism, which is key to equitable coverage and reporting on diverse communities like ours.

About the Organization:

The Chicago chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association was formed in 1989 by Linda Yu, a former ABC-7 news anchor, and David Ibata, a former Chicago Tribune editor. The chapter's guiding mission is to educate, advocate for and support AAPI journalists in the Midwest, promoting diversity programs, offering career advice and development workshops, partnering with other journalist organizations, and fostering networking among AAJA members nationwide. Our internship program provides funds and pairs AAPI student journalists with Chicago news organizations that provide real newsroom experience that has proven invaluable to the young journalists' careers and empowers them to cover issues that resonate with their AAPI community. We promote better AAPI representation in journalism, which is key to equitable coverage and reporting on diverse communities like ours.

organizational budget

$0 - $50,000

existence for

31+ YEARS

The Issue:

Pew Research Center data from a 2022 study shows just 3% of working journalists in the U.S. are Asian, despite being 7.2% of the U.S. population as a whole. Among beat reporters who cover crime, business, education, the environment, politics, health, local/state news and social issues, that figure stands between 2%-5%. That underrepresentation is further exacerbated in Chicago and Illinois, where a 2018 study from the American Society of News Editors found the three largest newsrooms in Chicago — the Tribune, Sun-Times and WBEZ — had just 3%-3.8% full-time journalists of AAPI descent, and other large newspapers in Illinois, including Peoria's Journal Star, the State Journal Register and the Belleville News-Democrat, did not have a single Asian reporter on staff. The Sun-Times' self-reported diversity statistics note there are no Asian members among its leadership, its editorial board, columnists or political reporters, and it has just one Asian editor. Chicago is the only major city in the U.S. with a growing Chinatown, and yet there are no reporters assigned to cover the AAPI community, much less the Chinese one specifically. The issue with this underrepresentation has been laid bare particularly during the pandemic, when the targeting of Asian people for hate crimes and blame for the spread of COVID-19 was keenly felt and required nuanced reporting and the ability to interview non-English-speaking Asian sources about their experiences. But it is also an issue AAPI journalists grapple with constantly, and the result is less quality coverage of AAPI issues and representation in journalism and how we see the world around us. Many of us can recount being pulled away from our own work to cover "Asian issues" because there was "no one else" up to the task, or being asked to translate languages we don't speak because "Asian languages are all similar, right?" This reductive perspective can only be remedied with better representation in our newsrooms, and that is paramount to our mission at AAJA Chicago.

The Solution:

AAJA Chicago is the only organization specifically dedicated to placing AAPI journalists in Chicago newsrooms. Each year, our two scholarship recipients spend three months in newsrooms such as the Chicago Tribune, the Sun-Times, ABC-7 Chicago, Chicago Social magazine, neighborhood-based news site Block Club Chicago and more, gaining extremely valuable (and paid) experience and contacts vital to finding a full-time job as a journalist upon graduation. Our past recipients, who have come from Midwest cities in addition to Chicago, are now reporters and editors both in Chicago and across the Midwest, with careers shaped so instrumentally by AAJA Chicago that many come back to serve on our board or as volunteers for our chapter. We also provide mentorship, career development workshops and networking opportunities that strengthen and further careers of early and mid-career AAPI journalists, along with providing guidelines, fact sheets and other advisory materials for newsrooms to strengthen the reporting on AAPI communities as a whole, no matter the journalists' race or ethnicity.

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