AAA-Fund Applauds HRC Decision to Endorse Tammy Duckworth

2016 Texas Democratic Party Convention. Day 0

The 2016 Texas Democratic Party Convention begins tomorrow. The requisite kickoff parties are underway, but the exciting bits don’t begin until we greet the sun again. We will see how the first state Democratic party convention will function after Bernie Sanders shifted his highly impressive campaign from running against AAA-Fund endorsee and presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to seeking policy changes within the Democratic party. We will see speeches from, among others, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Housing and Urban Development Secretary and rumored potential running mate Julian Castro, and High School Democrats Executive Vice Chair Liana Wang. Perhaps most exciting of all, we will see the election of an Asian American at-large DNC committee member.

Several qualified, very hard-working Democrats are seeking election to this new seat, and there’s one candidate who I see as the clear choice — Benjamin Chou. I’ve known Chou for years; we worked together on a non-profit board. You don’t have to take my word for it. Chou has endorsements from many notable Democrats including Nick Chu, Martin O’Malley, and, perhaps most importantly, Bel Leong-Hong. Chou is an incredible young man from Sugar Land who has worked with CAPAC and in Nancy Pelosi’s office. Young Asian American LGBT DNC member from Texas sure sounds like a way to send a message to Trump and his ilk. Chou wants to be that message and he will work in his capacity in the DNC to end the super delegate system, unify the party, make Texas a swing state, and push for paid campaign fellowships. Chou the vote!

– Justin Gillenwater

Thriving in the gray areas

News judgment is one of those tough-to-describe intangible concepts that best represents a balance between understanding what readers want to read and knowing what they should read.

But it’s never that simple.

As journalists, we are told that we need to have “good” news judgment. But all journalists possess a different sense of what’s newsworthy based on their own values and backgrounds. So how can all of us have the same news judgment? Isn’t that what diversity is meant for, to provide different perspectives on issues?

This past week, I worked on a story about the effectiveness of solitary confinement in protecting gay and transgender immigrants held at U.S. detention centers. Although solitary confinement is supposedly used to protect these vulnerable immigrants from abuse and assault from other detainees, a new report found that the psychological trauma of solitariness can be extremely harmful and in some cases, irreversible.

I pitched this story to a couple of publications that I thought would be interested, but they didn’t want it.

Although I finally found an outlet that published my story, I did not understand why this underreported issue was deemed not newsworthy to some.

Maybe it was my background and experiences that shaped the way I saw this piece. Or maybe I need to develop my skills and gain more experience, because this isn’t the first time I felt this disconnect.

Yes, my story affected a smaller demographic (gay and transgender immigrant detainees), but that does not mean it is not important. Most good stories are rarely isolated issues, and many journalists understand that a smaller issue is part of a bigger problem. With this particular story, it dealt with the bigger picture of immigration reform and how we, as a country, treat vulnerable populations.

So the most important part of news judgment is the balance between want and need. Working at a media outlet requires a journalist to hone into the publication’s audience and understand what they want to read about. However, journalism is also about setting the news agenda and publishing stories that we think our readers should know about. How do we find that balance, especially when everyone has such different backgrounds and perspectives? Should we place want before need or vice versa?

I don’t know if there will ever be a black-and-white answer to these questions. However, I think good journalists are able to thrive in the gray areas and help their audiences understand that many issues today are rarely black and white.

LGBT immigrant story:
“Report raises concerns about solitary detention for gay, transgender immigrants”

Rep. Takano slams GOP Congressmembers’ Faulty Logic, in Red Ink

Takano edits to GOP immig

Like the veteran high school teacher that he is, Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside), decided to take out his red pen and apply it to a letter on immigration that fellow Congressmembers from the other party were circulating. Politico gave him some ink for exposing the shoddy reasoning.

He dishes out kindly but exacting critique, pointing out where the letter has logical and factual flaws. For example, the Republican letter claims that the Senate-passed bill is over 1,000 pages, so Rep. Takano circles this and points out that it’s exactly 286 pages. (Note to Congressmembers and staff: please do your research.)

Rep. Takano repeatedly points out “tawdry accusations” and Republican claims that are lacking in evidence. No, seriously, he points it out no more than four times in the short letter. What assertions does he specifically call out?

-“reportedly not all the Senators have read [the bill]”
-“We are disturbed by the secret and under-handed way that the immigration bill moved through the Senate…”
-“To attempt to do everything at once ensures that little will be done right”
-“will prevent the last minute secret deal-making and vote-buying”

One of Rep. Takano’s best closing lines is, “If you don’t understand the bill, come by my office and I’ll explain it. Weak draft, re-do.”

That’s called taking your colleagues to the toolshed. and why I love teachers as elected officials! (Full disclosure, AAA Fund enthusiastically endorsed Rep. Takano early in his campaign.)


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