The Los Angeles Chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association

AAJA’s J Camp: The Next Generation of Journalists

By Josiah Hsiung

What is the future of journalism?

That is the question that many in the industry have struggled to answer.

But with programs like the Asian American Journalists Association’s J Camp, this troubling dilemma may have found its solution.

J Camp, a six-day, multicultural student journalism workshop was held July 18 to July 23 at Loyola University in Chicago.

The program designed for high school students was directed by Clea Benson, senior writer at CQ Weekly and Neal Justin, TV critic and internship coordinator for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Airfare, housing, and meals were all provided for the students with funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Bloomberg, The McClatchy Company and Scripps Howard Foundation.

The program also received funding from the J Camp alumni parents, National Association of Black Journalists, AAJA’s National Endowment fund and support from the following AAJA chapters: Arizona, Chicago, Florida, Hawai`i, Los Angeles, Minnesota, New York, Sacramento, San Francisco Bay Area, and Washington, D.C.

Split into six “breakout teams”, 42 aspiring high school journalists were able to learn more about their specific interests and personal abilities.

Each team specialized in different aspects of journalism and led by a faculty of working journalists.

Kyndell Harkness, photographer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, worked with the photography team.

Angie Lau, anchor for Bloomberg in Chicago and Cary Hernandez, executive producer for NBC 6/WTVJ oversaw the broadcast teams.

The print teams were directed by Josh du Lac, critic for the Washington Post, Chris Macias, critic for the Sacramento Bee, and Mark Angeles, Union County Bureau Chief for the Star Ledger.

J Camp allowed many opportunities for students to meet with and learn from the leading names in the journalism industry.

Figures from John White, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, to Brian Ross, chief investigative correspondent for ABC News, made the time to speak at the program.

 “One of my goals is to see more networking between people …to be able to keep in touch not only in your own year but from people from three or four years ago,” said Justin.

Other J Camp speakers included Richard Lui of CNN Headline News, James Colton, photography editor at Sports Illustrated, and Russ Mitchell, CBS News anchor.

Students not only learned of the tools necessary for the successful journalist, but also were inspired to continue pursuing their dreams of becoming journalists themselves.

“Before J Camp, I was not really experienced on any topics or even professions in journalism. However, with my interest in photography, yet lack of skill, I acquired a much greater knowledge in all forms of journalism, from print, to photo, and even broadcasting, and found a talent that I never knew I had,” said Logan Lopez, who was put in the photography group at J Camp. “J Camp opened all of our eyes to the business and allowed for us to achieve things that we would have never thought we were possible.”

Another J Camp student, Joseph Dillard, also said the experience was valuable.

 I am now incredibly excited to become a journalist and express news through my perspective. J Camp gave me confidence, security, and inspiration,” he said.

And each year, J Camp has proven that the future of journalism lies safely within the extraordinary capabilities of young, aspiring high school journalists.

“All I can say is that I see people getting into the business or studying it in college. I think the impact will be long term in a few years as our early graduates venture into new careers”, said Justin, who after eight years with J Camp has retired from directing the program.

Check out AAJA’s J Camp 2008’s website:


Josiah Hsiung participated in J Camp 2008. He is a student at Covina High School.