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Advice for Mid-Career Journalists from Yuki Kokubo on Vimeo. Journalist Yuki Kokubo interviewed a sampling of speakers (including me) at the recent Detroit convention of Asian American Journalists Association, and though she didn't have a pre-planned script when she began taking to people, the consistent theme that emerged from the speakers themselves was advice for mid-career journalists. This video is from the...

Many thanks to FOX 31 weekend anchor Deborah Takahara and reporter Chris Jose, as well as the FOX 31 crew and Dragonboat Race Association of Colorado (DRACO) members who manned the dragon boat for this shoot on a hot summer day! My wife Erin is the executive director for the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival. We volunteered for the first seven years...

[caption id="attachment_3686" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="The Japanese Gardens as it currently looks at the Denver Botanic Gardens"]Denver Botanic Gardens' current Japanese Garden[/caption] Many Japanese Americans – especially older JAs – will be familiar with the name Bill Hosokawa. He wrote a column, “From the Frying Pan,” which was a running commentary on Japanese America that ran in the Pacific Citizen, the national newspaper of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), a civil rights organization, for decades. In 1969 he published the first comprehensive history of Japanese Americans, “Nisei: The Quiet Americans,” that included information about internment. In 1982 he published “JACL: The Quest for Justice,” a history of JACL. He also published a collection of “Frying Pan” columns with added observations in 1998. His final book, published in 2005, was “Colorado's Japanese Americans: From 1886 to the Present,” which most Japanese Americans across the country probably aren’t familiar with, but was well-received here in Colorado. Even at age 90, when he wrote the book, he was an agile wordsmith and a witty and straightforward storyteller, a gift that served him well in his long career as a journalist. He died two years later, in 2007. bill hosokawa-denver press club 2005I was interviewed for an obituary in the LA Times when Bill died, and the reporter couldn’t understand how important “Nisei” was to a JA kid in northern Virginia in the early ’70s, where my family lived when I first read Bill’s landmark book. Being in a multicultural place like California with Asian faces everywhere you look, a book about the history of Japanese Americans may seem unremarkable. The Times’ obit even pointed out that to the emerging third-generation activists who were radicalized and beginning to actively seek their identity, “Nisei” seemed tame and even reinforced stereotypes of the meek, accommodating model minority. But to me, a kid in a northern Virginia suburb with no Asian friends — a banana if there ever was one — “Nisei” was like an electric jolt of identity. The radicalism came later; the first step for me was realizing that there were other people like me with an Asian face and Japanese values, but American heart and spirit. Colorado is more like Virginia when it comes to Asian population and JA identity. I’m much more a part of an Asian American community now, but it’s a small and disparate one. So having a historical giant like Bill Hosokawa in the area was like having a lighthouse in a fog. Bill Hosokawa was well-known nationally as one of the foundations of the Japanese American community’s national history. He’s also remembered in Colorado, and not just by Japanese Americans. His legacy looms large in Denver and throughout his adopted state for his work as a writer and editor, and a diplomat who built lasting bridges with Japan. He was, as he quite accurately used to quip, “The most famous Japanese American in Japan.” And Colorado, too.

PacificCitizen.org I was honored to give a presentation and moderate a panel discussion in April at the Japanese American National Museum, “From Newsprint to New Media: The Evolving Role of Nikkei Newspapers” 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 PC’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 – especially for people who live away from the West Coast and don’t have easy access to the Rafu, Nichei Bei or other papers – the only national news source about us. For members, it’s often the most visible connection to JACL and a regular reminder of our support for this important organization.

Nikkei Nation Logo I have to hand it to George Johnston, a Japanese American journalist and entrepreneur who is a veteran of news media. After he got laid off from the Hollywood Reporter, where he'd been web editor, he launched Nikkei Nation, a site that features news about Japan and Japanese Americans, in categories from Arts & Entertainment, Sports, Events and Science & Technology to Japan & Asia, Community, Obits and Obon Schedules. He has a partner Susan Yokoyama handling the business and marketing side as Associate Publisher, but this is a one-man band, editorially speaking. Johnston serves up the news several ways: Original reporting (he's a fine straight-ahead reporter as well as a seasoned columnist), repurposing of press releases and aggregated links to many other sites with headlines and brief descriptions, such as these for yesterday:
Obama, Kan to meet on Thursday (Sun., May 22, 2011) U.S. President Barack Obama will hold talks with Prime Minister Naoto Kan on May 26, the first of a two-day Group of Eight summit meeting in the French resort town of Deauville, the White House says. (Japan Times) Hawaii’s Rep. Mazie Hirono announces U.S. Senate bid (Sun., May 22, 2011) HONOLULU — The democratic field to replace retiring Sen. Dan Akaka doubles as Rep. Mazie Hirono announces her candidacy for the U.S. Senate. (KHON2.com) Budokan lease approved, fundraising is next for Little Tokyo sports complex (Sun., May 22, 2011) The Budokan of Los Angeles gets final approval to move forward after the Los Angeles City Council voted to grant a long-term ground lease to build the $22 million sports and activity center in Little Tokyo. (Downtown News) Obama’s appeals court pick Gordon Liu blocked (Sun., May 22, 2011) WASHINGTON — President Obama lost his first vote on a judicial nominee, as Senate Republicans derailed the nomination of a liberal professor who leveled acerbic attacks against two conservative Supreme Court nominees — both now justices. (Boston.com)
I included George during my panel last month, "From Newsprint to New Media: The Evolving Role of Nikkei Newspapers," because he's diving headfirst into an online-only business model. This month he took the bold step of announcing the free email subscriptions many of us have been receiving for months with daily roundups of all his news headlines will end, and if we want his news, we'll have to pay for it.