SOURCE: Asian American Journalists Association

Asian American Journalists Association

May 24, 2011 08:00 ET

Asian American Journalists Association Launches "The Living Textbook," News From Middle-School Voices

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - May 24, 2011) - "The Living Textbook," one of a trio of demonstration projects celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Asian American Journalists Association's Executive Leadership Program, has launched.

News on the site, http://livingtextbook.aaja.org/, is produced by seventh-grade students at McCollough-Unis School in Dearborn, Mich., who have a unique take on what it means to grow up Arab American in post-9/11 America. They are among the first generation of Americans to have no memory of what life was before the 2001 terrorist attacks.

"This program is important because it allows students to learn the tools of journalism to tell their stories," said Doris Truong, AAJA National President. "It has been really rewarding to watch their progress through the academic year and to hear them introduce themselves as journalists first and seventh-graders second."

The Unis students depict national and local events, their families' tales of immigration, how they have adapted such American holidays as St. Patrick's Day and Thanksgiving, and share their aspirations.

"It is our hope that these young storytellers will gain the skills and confidence they need to continue telling about their generation in words and pictures," said project co-director Joe Grimm.

"We think that the digital literacy skills the students are learning will help them succeed -- in school, on the job and in their 21st century communities," co-director Emilia Askari added.

This project is funded by the McCormick Foundation and The Ford Foundation. Kodak, Target, and Costco have also donated in-kind products to support the program.

The demonstration projects are the brainchild of Dinah Eng, founding director of AAJA's Executive Leadership Program and a columnist for Scripps Howard News Service. A former reporter at The Detroit News, Eng anticipated that the perspective of children in Dearborn would be important as the United States approached the 10th anniversary of 2001 attacks.

The project co-directors, Emilia Askari and Joe Grimm, have been working with the students weekly throughout the 2010-11 school years. Askari is a journalist, who just completed her master's degree at the University Of Michigan School Of Information; she has spent about two decades as a reporter at newspapers such as the Detroit Free Press and the Miami Herald. Grimm is a professor at the Michigan State University School of Journalism and an adjunct faculty member with the Freedom Forum's Diversity Institute; he previously worked for more than 30 years in newsrooms, spending a quarter-century at the Free Press.

A video about the project by journalistic filmmaker Bill Kubota can be viewed at bit.ly/jyk1BI

Founded in 1981, the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) is a non-profit professional and educational organization with more than 1,400 members in 21 chapters throughout the U.S. and Asia today. AAJA serves Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders by encouraging young people to consider journalism as a career, developing managers in the media industry, and promoting fair and accurate news coverage.