I was honored to give a presentation and moderate a panel discussion in April at the Japanese American National Museum, â€œFrom Newsprint to New Media: The Evolving Role of Nikkei Newspapersâ€ about the history of newspapers in the Japanese American community. During the event, I was reminded of the impact the Pacific Citizen newspaper — which is sent bi-monthly to every JACL member as well as subscribers — has had over the decades, and the role it has played as a lifeline of news and information not just to JACL members but to anyone interested in news about Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. (JACL, the Japanese American Citizens League, is the oldest Asian civil rights organization in the U.S.)
The first reflection of the PCâ€™s impact were the panelists: Gwen Muranaka, English editor of the Rafu Shimpo in LA, Kenji Taguma, editor of the Nichi Bei Weekly in San Francisco, Shigeharu Higashi who runs the Cultural News website and monthly newspaper in LA, and George Johnston, a Rafu columnist who has launched a news website called Nikkei Nation. Of these four, Muranaka and Johnston both worked for the Pacific Citizen. Harry Honda, the walking encyclopedia of Japanese America, JACL and the PC, was in the audience. Many of the audience members have been reading the PC all their lives.
The PC is, after all â€“ especially for people who live away from the West Coast and donâ€™t have easy access to the Rafu, Nichei Bei or other papers â€“ the only national news source about us. For members, itâ€™s often the most visible connection to JACL and a regular reminder of our support for this important organization.