AAJA Member Testimonials

Angie Lau

Editor-in-Chief / Founder, Forkast.News, Former two-term President AAJA Asia Chapter, AAJA member since 2001

Looking back, one thing is clear. I would not be here today without AAJA. It has been an important ally from the very beginning. As a young journalist, just starting out, it was all so very daunting. I was looking for professional support, in a competitive environment, unsure of the landscape. But the moment I discovered AAJA, I knew I was home. It was here that I found incredible mentors, in an organization that was thoughtful about the needs of its members, led by some of the most talented people of our time — people whom I looked up to, admired from afar, and who was so open and generous with not only their time, but their interest in helping me grow. I knew to be a member also meant I would give back. In so doing, AAJA gave me back more than I could ever imagine. It saw a leader in me before I even knew it myself. When I was approached to become a co-director for AAJA’s J Camp program, it trusted me to lead with incredible professionals, build a program, reach out to sponsors, and report to the AAJA board. When I stepped into my president role at AAJA Asia Chapter, it was also with reluctance because I was unsure I could do the job. But it embraced my leadership, and thanks to the support of amazing members, the Chapter grew and thrived. AAJA always believed in me before I did.

Allen Cheng

AAJA-Asia co-founder, 1996, 2011 AAJA-JMSC New Media Conference, co-chairman

Happy 10th Birthday N3Con!

This year’s virtual event traces its roots to 2011 AAJA-JMSC New Media Conference.

That two-day inaugural drew more than 150 participants from across the region and launched AAJA Asia onto a track of success, including being named Chapter of the Year twice by Asian American Journalists Association.

Founded in 1996, the first Asia conference was a watershed in that it laid the foundation for future leaders. Future Asia chapter president Ramy Inocencio was conference co-chairman, and the event provided him an opportunity to prepare for his leadership roles.

It was my honor to be Ramy’s co-chair in organizing that first conference, which gave me an opportunity to spot other talents and to encourage them to become active in AAJA.

With the support of Ying Chan, the founding director of HKU’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre, the university offered AAJA Asia a free venue at Meng Wah Complex, which would later be the venue of four other N3Cons.

The success of that inaugural was a watershed in chapter history in that it laid the foundation for N3Con to become Asia’s first and only annual journalism conference. It also laid the path for the Asia chapter to become a long-lasting institution with its own creative energies.

It is my honor to have played a role, and I sincerely wish that there will be many more N3Cons to come!

Michelle Ye Hee Lee

AAJA National President

AAJA-Asia is one of AAJA’s most vibrant chapters, as evidenced by the numerous awards it has received in recent years. The Asia chapter’s expansive community of local and international journalists has set a leading example for journalism organizations worldwide, advocating for more inclusion, greater press freedom and professional development to cultivate the next generation of journalists and news leaders. Whenever you meet a member of AAJA-Asia, regardless of which subchapter they are in, you can immediately feel their enthusiasm and passion for the family the chapter has created halfway around the world from where AAJA was founded. I personally have been welcomed by Seoul and Hong Kong sub-chapters in my travels, and witnessed firsthand that our AAJA family is truly global. Thank you for making AAJA a stronger organization and being the bridge between the two continents reflected in our organization’s name and heritage. Your growth and innovation have set a model for AAJA’s global expansion, and I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together in the future. Congratulations on 10 years of N3Con – here’s to the next 10 years and beyond.

Rebecca Isjwara

Co-VP for Hong Kong AAJA-Asia

This might sound cliché but I felt very much at home in AAJA-Asia because every member is not only very smart and knowledgeable, but they are also extremely kind, helpful, and welcoming. In a time when our credibility is coming under immense pressure from preexisting powers, AAJA-Asia has proven to be a reliable community to fall back on and fight together with.

Eldes Tran

AAJA-Asia member, 2010–16, Managing Editor, Epigram Books (Singapore)

The Asia chapter of AAJA has always had a different identity than other chapters: its members are far-flung and diverse, its events varied and its mission broad. But the one thing it always felt like was family—a family for the American journalists so far from home and for budding journalists looking for a home. This meant an automatic network in any Asian city where there was an AAJA presence. And when we started doing small regional conferences, we had an annual reunion of sorts, something that grew in attendance and weight, in the form of N3Con. Ken Moritsugu and Ramy Inocencio’s leadership really made a mark in those early days, and though we were small and scrappy, we soon were able to create one of the biggest and most active chapters in the Association.

Jay Hartwell

University of Hawaiʻi – Mānoa

Throughout my years advising journalism programs and running workshops in Hawaiʻi, the U.S. and Asia, I encouraged students to join the Asian American Journalists Association. Wherever you are, AAJA members do the best job of mentoring, training, and supporting each other and networking with institutions and companies that foster growth and a commitment to excellence. I remain a retired member of the Asia chapter — out of respect and gratitude to the AAJA-Asia leaders whose N3Cons allowed me to learn and help as an educator in the region.

Kari Lindberg

Co-VP for Hong Kong, AAJA-Asia

My first exposure to AAJA-Asia was when I sat in Bloomberg news headquarters in New York for an N3 digital conference on North Korea. Peering into the projected screen, I had the humbling experience to listen to an esteemed AP journalist from Singapore recant her numerous trips to North Korea, a place that only existed in a far off segment of the evening news for me. AAJA-Asia made the far off seem real even as an ocean divided me and the Korean peninsula.

With geopolitical tensions on the rise and an increasing part of all journalists’ careers, arches will become defined by reporting on U.S.-China relations. AAJA-Asia and N3 Con have consistently helped to bring the key stories of the region to the forefront. All stories need a platform to thrive and as the U.S. moves to further pull out of the region, N3 Con’s voice and those of its community couldn’t shine brighter.

Bennett Marcus

Freelance writer, Hong Kong

I stumbled upon AAJA-Asia in 2018, when they invited members of the Foreign Correspondents Club to attend the N3Con conference. I was fairly new in Hong Kong, having moved from the U.S. unexpectedly after my husband accepted a job offer. A freelance journalist, I was attempting to reestablish my career in a new country, had very few contacts, and at the time, my visa didn’t even permit me to work in Hong Kong. The international move was exciting, but professionally, I was in uncharted waters.

I had no idea what N3Con entailed, but figured why not?

The conference was terrific, with excellent panels and workshops. Of course, N3Con was great professionally; I met other journalists with whom I could compare notes, and editors to whom I might pitch future stories.

But I’d also found a sort of community in AAJA-Asia. In one workshop, I heard from people who, like me, had relocated to different countries around Asia as tag-along spouses, and learned how they were navigating their careers in a new setting. It was a revelation; I felt less alone in this experience.

I also met members from other AAJA-Asia chapters, and have kept up with some, and reached out when visiting Seoul, Bangkok or Tokyo. Some have become friends. Our local Hong Kong chapter has get-togethers for drinks or dim sum, so it’s a great way to get to know people from different backgrounds and at different stages of their careers. Thanks to N3Con, my new home was a lot less lonely.

Wendy Tang

Chapter officer and N3con program chair 2012 – 2017

As a former board officer, it’s exciting to see the growth of the Asia chapter in the past decade. The Asia chapter made AAJA’s history by winning National’s Chapter of the Year twice in a row in 2012 and 2013. And again in 2016. The chapter serves as a platform to connect media professionals in the region and a bridge with the US.

Ching-Ching Ni

Editor-in-chief, The New York Times Chinese language website

I joined AAJA in New York more than 20 years ago. From my struggling days at journalism school to becoming a foreign correspondent at the Los Angeles Times and now editor of The New York Times in Chinese, every step of my career has been made possible by a helping hand from the extended AAJA family. So proud to see the Asia chapter supporting a new generation of global journalists on the home continent and beyond. We need you now more than ever!

Hannah Bae

Writer, Journalist, Illustrator

When I joined AAJA-Asia 10 years ago as a very early-career journalist, I was shocked to receive a personal email from the chapter president at the time, Ken Moritsugu. Ken wanted to hear about what I was looking for from AAJA and how the chapter could best serve me. Until that point in my career, whenever I interacted with senior journalists, the dynamic had always felt flipped — I had to make the case for why a more established colleague should even give me the time of day. Ken and the rest of the Asia chapter leadership made me feel like I was worth listening to, even as a very junior colleague.

That example has guided me over my past decade of service to AAJA. The Asia chapter made me feel like I could be a leader, first as a vice president of the Seoul subchapter, then with AAJA stateside once I moved to the New York chapter. Leadership, as AAJA-Asia has showed me, means nurturing and finding new ways to grow. Today, I’m proud that my AAJA community includes close friendships with students and early-career journalists, as well as mid-career and senior colleagues. AAJA-Asia shows me how every member has value and potential, and I hope to carry that message forward in my service to the organization, too.

Ken Moritsugu

Former AAJA-Asia president, former AAJA national vice president, former AAJA-NY president, Greater China News Director, The Associated Press (AP)

We were nervous about the first regional conference in 2011: Would people come? Would it be a success? It was, beyond our expectations, and has been taken to far greater heights by successive generations of chapter leaders. AAJA has always been a home for me. A place to have conversations, exchange views and learn from others as we navigate our ever-evolving world. I leave every N3Con feeling smarter and re-energized about our profession and AAJA’s diversity mission.

Brolley Genster

To say that AAJA-Asia has been fundamental to my career would be an understatement. Through the Seoul subchapter, I have been able to find my first two jobs in journalism and meet a network of journalists who have become not only colleagues but also some of my closest friends.

Together, we have collaborated on projects, organized events, asked tough questions and helped each other out in times of need. With AAJA-Asia, I have been able to connect with journalists from across the region and learn skills that I would not have access to if I was not a part of the organization. The Asia chapter, and N3Con specifically, have allowed me opportunities to develop my leadership skills, meet some of Asia’s top news leaders and gain insight into how they have progressed in their careers.

Each year I leave N3Con energized, inspired and ready to try something new. The journalists that make up AAJA-Asia have helped me and many others in innumerable ways, the most valuable of which being that they have created a space that feels like home for so many of us.

Haruka Nuga

Senior Producer & Video Journalist, The Associated Press, Tokyo Bureau

I joined AAJA-Asia when I was a journalism student in Hong Kong. It was a great network of international and diverse journalists and media professionals I was connected to while starting out my journalism career. Having this community of friendly faces in the industry made it a little easier to enter the world of journalism and I started getting more involved with the AAJA. Although video journalism is my passion and profession, AAJA gave me a creative outlet to use my hobby in graphic design to create event flyers and even design the N3Con logo that we still use today. Even after my move from Hong Kong to Tokyo, Japan, it was great to still be part of the AAJA family and meet with members from another chapter in a new city.

Zela Chin

Reporter/Producer at TVB Pearl

AAJA’s Asia chapter has been a big part of my life and my career. I got my first job at the AAJA convention in San Diego. When I moved halfway around the world for my second job, the Asia chapter welcomed me with open arms. Since I was new to the region, it was fun to visit AAJA friends in different countries and have instant tour guides to show me their hometowns, plus access to a wealth of local information and contacts. AAJA members have been with me through the highs and lows of my career, and helped me to develop professionally from the early days of breaking into the industry to now as a mid-career journalist. And I have met incredible people that will be lifelong friends.

Paul Cheung

Emerging media & tech strategist

In start-up terms, Ramy was the founder of N3Con. He created a product for AAJA-Asia that is both community building and training. I have the privilege of being invited to the N3Con startup and I look forward to seeing how it will evolve. Thank you Ramy for your vision and leadership for AAJA Asia and N3.

Joe Pan

Media strategist

I attended the first N3Con in 2011 and got involved as an executive committee member the 2nd year. The AAJA community has been both my creative outlet and inspiration for the past ten years.

Holly Chik

AAJA-Asia Student Representative 2019

N3Con attracts enthusiastic journalists, media professionals and students from around the region.

I joined my first N3 in 2017 and have made friends and mentors who guided me in my career path.

Panels, workshops and newsroom tours are great to get inspired, learn new skills and build connections.

Yuri Nagano

National Board Representative for AAJA-Asia

The AAJA family —in particular my Asia chapter—has been the rock in my professional life. I wouldn’t still be in journalism—which can be a cut throat industry and rough place for journalists of color—without all the AAJA support and connections. AAJA has been with me through the highest of highs and lowest of lows. I’ve been inspired and humbled by conversations with both old-timers and newbies.

As a volunteer, with all the lost sleep over N3 planning in the past, I think I may have ended up with more white hair. But that process of building something truly great like N3 with a dedicated, talented team has been always amazing and energizing. One year, we had a Tank Man photographer talk and our video stream died. Did we catch the attention of the Chinese government? Perhaps. Looking back at 10 years of N3, would I do it all over again? What the heck. Of course.

Elaine Ramirez

Audience Development Editor, CoinDesk; Founding Editor, N3 Magazine

N3Con was an onramp to a community and local industry I would not have otherwise known. There were many, many sleepless nights in organizing the conference where we questioned our sanity and intentions, but year after year, the value of what we achieved together was priceless.

Having the opportunity to grow as an organizer and leader with the AAJA-Asia family gave me insight into my values and potential that drive my purpose today as an advocate for diversity and inclusion and biased-toward-action leader in my organization.

I’m proud of the longevity of initiatives like N3 Magazine and the Asia Mentorship program that our members have continued, and I am confident that the chapter’s commitment to fostering and engaging young leaders will continue to strengthen N3Con’s foundation as a bridge for journalists across Asia.

Glenn van Zutphen

Founder, VanMedia Group Pte Ltd

AAJA is an amazing resource for journalists at all levels. Having been associated with AAJA Asia since N3Con in 2014 and participating over the years as a panelist, mentor, judge, and N3Con Magazine writer, I’ve seen the organization become a must-have membership for the serious journalist. I especially appreciate the inclusive nature of the membership and the wide-ranging programs that are not only interesting, but that give actionable information and tools.

Very warm congratulations on this 10th Anniversary of N3Con.