By VANESSA HUA
Russ Stanton thinks anyone who would want to have lunch with him wants to discuss the Los Angeles Times.
Stanton, who is editor of The Times, is one of the media leaders who agreed to be auctioned off as a prize at the AAJA Gala Silent Auction at the UNITY convention in Chicago.
“I’m not sure I would pay to dine with me,” Stanton joked.
From newbies to veterans, AAJA-LA chapter members are gearing up for UNITY convention, which will be held July 23 through July 27 in Chicago. UNITY is the nation’s largest gathering of minority journalists. Nearly 10,000 journalists and media executives will meet at the convention to discuss timely issues affecting journalism and the media industry.
Board Member Cynthia Wang, who also serves as AAJA’s national treasurer, is charged with organizing the silent auction on behalf of the Los Angeles chapter. Even with the economic downturn, donations have been steadily coming in, she said.
In addition to lunch with Stanton, Los Angeles chapter board members have secured items such as floor seats to a Los Angeles Clippers game, a weekend stay at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel and Spa, tickets to show tapings of “Ellen,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” Other items include tickets to a results show for the upcoming season of “Dancing With the Stars,” a Guitar Hero III console for Xbox, a tour of L.A.’s K-town nightlife with James Kyson Lee, who stars as “Ando” on the NBC hit “Heroes.”
Stanton said he would take the winner to Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse in downtown Los Angeles if the bid winner is in Los Angeles. Or, as an alternative, he will take the winner to lunch in Chicago during the convention.
He guessed a number of potential job candidates may try to win lunch with him. Stanton also speculates that bidders wants to discuss the changing media, the growth of online, how to meet that challenge while still tackling print or how The Times is remaking itself.
“And I’d like to hear ideas from them on how we can improve our hiring process and our coverage of non-white communities,” Stanton said.
Wang has a goal of exceeding the amount raised at last year’s auction. To that end, she has asked each of AAJA’s 20 chapters to provide a travel-related item, a media-related item and a sports-related item from their region for the event. There will also be a photo collection from AAJA photographers and a table of books, DVDs and CDs for instant purchase.
Last year’s auction at the AAJA Miami convention earned $16,000.
Vanessa Hua is an AAJA member and Unity stipend recipient.