Peter Bhatia, Connie Chung, Ken Kashiwahara, Dith Pran and Helen Thomas Honored by Asian American Journalists Association

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Pioneers in Journalism Peter Bhatia, Connie Chung, Ken Kashiwahara, Dith Pran and Helen Thomas honored by Asian American Journalists Association in New York.

Some of the best-known Asian American journalists were among those at The Waldorf-Astoria in New York last night to celebrate as the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) officially launched its $2 million endowment campaign, with more than $581,699.55 in charter gifts.

Proceeds from the gala event and additional live pledges are expected to generate an additional $50,000 for the endowment.

"We are thrilled to see this kind of enthusiasm from media companies, corporations and individuals," said AAJA national president Mae Cheng, who is also assistant city editor at Newsday. "It demonstrates the wide community support for diversity in the news media. We are also pleased to have some of the most esteemed members of our industry join us at this event."

AAJA presented five veteran journalists with "Pioneers in Journalism" awards at the event:

*Peter Bhatia, executive editor of The Oregonian, the country's highest-ranking newspaper editor of Asian American ethnicity and past president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors;
*Connie Chung (unable to attend), three-time Emmy Award winning broadcaster who was only the second woman, after Barbara Walters, to co-anchor an evening news program;
*Ken Kashiwahara, two-time Emmy Award winning broadcaster who was the first male Asian American correspondent on network news;
*Dith Pran, a photojournalist with The New York Times who was a Cambodian Holocaust survivor and the subject of the Academy Award winning film, The Killing Fields; and
*Helen Thomas, Hearst Newspapers columnist, widely regarded as the dean of the Washington press corps who served as White House bureau chief for United Press International for 26 years.

The event was the first in a series of Silver Anniversary Galas to be held throughout the country leading up to AAJA's 25th anniversary in 2006. The final gala will be held that year in Los Angeles, where AAJA was founded by a handful of journalists envisioning an organization that would work for fair and accurate coverage of Asian America and advocate for better representation of Asian Americans in the newsroom and in news management.

Awards presenters at The Waldorf-Astoria gala were ABC News correspondent Juju Chang, WABC-TV Channel 7 anchor Liz Cho, CNN correspondent Fred Katayama, US magazine editor-in-chief Janice Min, and author/journalist Helen Zia. Katayama and MTV News correspondent SuChin Pak emceed the event.

Proceeds from the gala event will benefit AAJA's new Silver Anniversary Endowment Fund, which was created to strengthen the organization's independence from economic downturns and further consolidation in the media industry. The endowment will help the organization provide a firm foundation for its many programs such as its groundbreaking Executive Leadership Program, its national scholarships and J Camp, its multicultural journalism training program for high school students. These programs are leading the way toward true diversity in America's newsrooms and help ensure fair and accurate news coverage of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities and issues.