1. How did you find yourself as the editor of the International Examiner?
I moved to Seattle from Honolulu with in 2012 without a job lined up. In Hawaii, I’ve been the interim editor of the Honolulu Weekly, the executive editor of the Hawaii Independent, and a stringer for Reuters and Bloomberg. To tell you the truth, I figured landing a regular 9-to-5 journalism job in a “big city” would be easy. It wasn’t. But I didn’t let that stop me. When I got to Seattle, I started taking on freelance writing jobs from community newspapers throughout the city the day that I landed. It was a great way to begin creating a network in a brand new city and a really great way to dive right in and learn about the city’s history, people, and issues. For my first year in Seattle, I actually got a half time job as a graphic designer and spent the rest of my time writing as many freelance stories as I could take on. The first story I was assigned in Seattle was actually for the International Examiner—about how national businesses may actually be coming to the Chinatown-International District despite decades of resistance by the community in the past. It was my first foray into learning about the deep history of social justice and activism in the neighborhood and the incredible, diverse people who make up Seattle’s Asian Pacific Islander community. An opportunity came in 2013 to become editor of the International Examiner and I was able to land the job.
2. Which of your stories/shows are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of any stories that shed light on or help to provide a voice for people and communities that are often underrepresented or misrepresented in the media. I really enjoyed reporting on and learning about the struggles of the Marshallese people, whose access to food benefits in the United States were being threatened despite the fact that their homeland was decimated because of the U.S. military’s nuclear testing from 1946 to 1958. To this day, the Marshallese people have to deal with the effects of food contamination and radioactive fallout.
3. What is your favorite thing about your job?
My favorite thing about being the editor of the International Examiner is being able to learn about the history and diversity of the Asian Pacific Islander community, which is so diverse. One of the biggest issues for community leaders is dismantling the “Model Minority Myth” that Asian Pacific Islanders are doing better in society than other ethnic groups. This myth is the product of the use of data that lumps all Asian and Pacific Islander Americans together. The truth is that when you disaggregate the data and look specifically at the very distinct and diverse groups who fall under the Asian Pacific Islander umbrella, that there are very significant disparities. For example, a graph may show that Asian Pacific Islanders are doing better in terms of high school graduation rates when you lump everyone together, but if you disaggregate the data you’ll see, for example, that Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders are much, much worse than the rest of the population as a whole. The danger and damage that comes from the “Model Minority Myth” is that these groups don’t receive the funding and attention that is needed to address these problems when a lawmaker or decision maker can just say, “Oh, those Asians are doing just fine.” There are at least 49 distinct ethnicities in Washington State who fall under the Asian Pacific Islander umbrella, each with their own issues, struggles, histories, and immigration stories. To put things into perspective, on a global scale, more than half of the world’s population comes from Asia. My favorite thing about this job is taking on the challenge of exploring this diversity and examining the similarities and differences that make the Asian Pacific Islander community so remarkable. One of the most beautiful things about the International Examiner’s 43-year history as a nonprofit community newspaper is that by covering this diversity, we are constantly learning about ourselves.
4. What is your interview style?
I always tell new reporters that the most important thing in an interview is to truly listen and to understand what the interviewee is talking about. I can’t tell you how often reporters don’t pay attention to what the interviewee is saying. Or how a reporter will presume to know everything about an issue or go into an interview with the story already determined in their heads. I think journalists should always go into an interview with some humility and empathy. My interview style is that I actively listen with patience and follow up with thoughtful, honest questions that will benefit the reader.
5. What do you look for in a story?
I look for stories that can be humanized beyond statistics and numbers. I look for stories that reflect issues that affect the voiceless.
6. What is your day like at your job?
A day at my job involves wearing many hats. I find myself trying to run a nonprofit as well as running a newspaper that is published twice monthly and a news website that is updated 7-days-a-week. On any given day I’ll be doing webmaster duties, graphic design, editing, reporting, photography, and working on our budget. I’m also the IT guy. The highlight of my day is working with interns and volunteers from the community and providing new learning opportunities for them.
7. Who do you most look up to in the journalism industry?
I most look up to the community that we report on. They are our readers, our supporters, and our critics. They are our sources, our subjects, and our reason for existing.
8. What is your favorite news outlet?
Right now it’s the International Examiner.
9. What is your guilty pleasure?
Playing board games against myself.