By Sandeep Chandok
The Asian American Journalists Association’s Sports Task Force is proud to announce Jason Omori as the inaugural recipient of the group’s Bleacher Report Internship.
Omori, a sophomore at Georgetown University, will spend the summer working for Bleacher Report, a premier sports media organization, with a focus on social content. He will also be awarded a $5,000 scholarship.
“Jason emerged from a strong pool of qualified candidates,” STF president Josh Tolentino said. “AAJA and the Sports Task Force are grateful for Bleacher Report’s willingness and dedication in creating a scholarship that will directly help the next generation of Asian American sports journalists. We hope to continue to foster young talent, such as Jason, to assure AAPIs are represented across all newsrooms.”
“We’re absolutely thrilled to welcome Jason as the inaugural recipient of the Bleacher Report Social Content internship,” said Varoon Bose, director of special projects for social at B/R and an STF executive board member. “We were extremely impressed with Jason’s work as the Deputy Design Editor for the Hoya newspaper, and we’re looking forward to welcoming him through an internship that we hope represents a long-term partnership between Bleacher Report and the AAJA Sports Task Force.”
Omori, a Los Angeles native, found out he was selected for the internship on a phone call with Tolentino, who started the conversation by asking him if he had any plans for the summer. “Well, I hope so,” Omori responded.
“I was super grateful and super happy and excited that I got it,” Omori said. “I immediately told my family because they were very much involved in helping me write the stuff and get ready for this.”
“We’re proud to build on our longstanding relationship with AAJA by supporting their Sports Task Force and launching this new internship and scholarship,” said Johnita Due, SVP & chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer for WarnerMedia News and Sports (CNN, Turner Sports + BleacherReport and WarnerMedia Studios). “We are committed to amplifying AAPI voices and building a pipeline of talent that will lead us into the future.”
Omori, who is pursuing an American Studies degree from Georgetown, is passionate about sports and the evolving media industry. He says he’s constantly on the B/R app, and loves what the company and brand represents. It’s what led him to apply for the opportunity in the first place.
“Bleacher Report is such a great brand, and I’ve been using it for years,” Omori said. “It’s going to be a cool experience.”
Omori is undecided which area of sports media he wants to focus on, but he’s fascinated by social media and design. He’s expected to graduate in May 2023. Omori serves as deputy design editor for “The Hoya” student newspaper, and he also worked as a sports editor at his high school newspaper.
Omori, a new member of AAJA, hopes the organization will help him launch a successful career in sports journalism.
“I think between the networking opportunities that AAJA provides and this specific role, which is not super singular, will let me explore, figure out and hone in on what it’s like to work on a social content team.”
Earlier today, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Carlton Davis posted a tweet that included a derogatory term historically used to refer to Asians in the early 1900s. The Asian American Journalists Association Sports Task Force is disappointed by his sentiment, especially at a time when Asians in the United States are experiencing a sharp increase in anti-Asian hate which has resulted in harassment and attacks.
“Gook” is a hateful slur and is listed in AAJA’s official guidance on covering Asia and Asian Americans. The AAJA STF appreciates the swift response by the Buccaneers’ organization to address this matter. We also acknowledge Davis’ apology and look forward to seeing how he will help the affected communities.
AAJA calls on national and local media outlets to prioritize coverage of this ongoing violence and hate against AAPIs, and to empower their journalists to report on these incidents immediately, accurately and comprehensively. AAJA National has also put together a list of related mental health resources that you can find here.
The mission of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) Sports Task Force (STF) is to elevate
the voices of Asian Americans in sports and support aspiring Asian American sports journalists across
multiple media platforms through mentorship and financial opportunities. Powered by the Asian
American Journalists Association, STF forges relationships between leading AAPI media professionals
and students and entry-level professionals seeking to network and hone their skills.
In partnership with AAJA STF, Bleacher Report is offering an exciting internship opportunity that will
allow the selected candidate to explore the world of sports media, while also tapping into the resources
and networks that directly speak to the AAJA STF mission. In conjunction with the paid internship, the
selected candidate will be receiving a $5000 AAJA STF x B/R scholarship.
WarnerMedia is a leading media and entertainment company that creates and distributes premium and
popular content from a diverse array of talented storytellers and journalists to global audiences through
its consumer brands including: HBO, HBO Max, Warner Bros., TNT, TBS, truTV, CNN, DC Entertainment,
New Line, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies and others.
Bleacher Report, a WarnerMedia company, makes it as easy as possible to be a sports fan by defining
the moments that matter. Empowering, personal and community driven, its vision for making sports
bigger than the game has led to unmatched engagement on social media, where it consistently ranks as
the No. 1 digital and social brand. Bleacher Report also provides an industry-leading fan experience on
mobile devices through its unparalleled app experience. This year Bleacher Report was ranked as one of
the ‘World’s Most Innovative Companies’ by Fast Company.
With exposure to the DEI resources at WM, the selected intern will be dedicated to the B/R Social
Content team and paired with a mentor to guide them through navigating the sports industry, aligning
with the AAJA STF mission.
The Social Content team is responsible for brainstorming and producing short-form social content along
with our design team against the largest moments in sports and culture. This shared-resources team
supports the many portfolios at Bleacher Report and oversees content production including but not
limited to graphics, illustrations, animations, short-form video executions and more.
• Supporting associate producers, producers and senior producers to brainstorm, develop and
produce sport-specific content including but not limited to NBA, NFL, College Sports,
• Gambling, MLB, Soccer, Combat Sports and more.
• Compiling notes, images and footage to guide content though the back end of production
• Write basic scripts for short-form content executions to live on Twitter, Facebook,
Instagram, Instagram Stories, YouTube and TikTok
• Have an understanding of content creation in the social space, social media platforms, and
• Have experience working with content calendars and creating basic content executions for
large sports brand social media accounts
• Experience in journalism/sports preferred but not required
• Have extensive knowledge and an extreme passion for internet sports culture
• Our 10-week summer internship program will kick off June 7 and end on or before
• The intern is expected to work on a full-time schedule (40 hours/week) during normal business hours
• The paid internship will be entirely remote in light of COVID-19 and with your health and safety
in mind. There will be extensive programming accommodated for a virtual environment, so you
can make the most of your time at Bleacher Report and learn the ins-and-outs of our exciting
industry alongside your fellow interns
• The intern will be paid a competitive hourly wage
• Upon successful completion of the internship, the selected intern will receive a $5000 AAJA STF x B/R Scholarship
• Only current students (undergraduate or graduate programs) or recent graduates (within 6
months of applying) are eligible for the internship
• AAJA membership required for the selected candidate
• Cover letter
• Work samples
THE APPLICATION DEADLINE IS FRIDAY, APRIL 16 @ 12pm ET / 9am PT.
Questions? Email April Siruno at email@example.com.
Warner Media, LLC and its subsidiaries are equal opportunity employers. Qualified candidates will
receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, gender,
sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, mental or physical disability, and genetic
information, marital status, citizenship status, military status, protected veteran status or any other
category protected by law.
By Sandeep Chandok
The Asian American Journalists Association’s Sports Task Force is proud to announce Paulina Jeng as the inaugural winner of the 2021 Michael Kim Broadcast Fellowship.
Jeng, a 2020 University of California Berkeley graduate, is the first-ever recipient of the $2,000 award, intended to support an early career sports broadcast journalist.
“I am thrilled with the judging committee’s choice of Paulina as the inaugural recipient of this fellowship,” Kim said. “She represents everything this award is and should be. I can’t wait to see where her career takes her.”
“Paulina emerged from a very strong pool of candidates,” STF president Josh Tolentino said. “Our 2021 scholarship/fellowship recipient pool drew the most applicants since STF began offering financial opportunities more than six years ago – a testament to the group’s rapid growth and also to our commitment in helping develop the next generation of AAPI sports journalists.
“Michael Kim is a legend in our industry and we are so excited to introduce Paulina as the inaugural recipient of the Michael Kim Broadcast Fellowship.”
Jeng – also a past recipient of the STF’s ESPN internship (2019) – received the news that she had won the Michael Kim Fellowship STF scholarship while she was in her native Taiwan.
“It took me a minute to process when Josh told me,” Jeng said. “I was kind of still in shock and wasn’t expecting it. But I was very happy and my mom is here with me in Taiwan so I was very excited to tell her and share the news with the rest of my family.”
Jeng said she felt the Kim fellowship resonated with her background because of her passion for digital broadcast.
“I felt that this one was aligned with what I’ve been wanting to do and what I hope to do in the future,” Jeng said. “And of course Michael Kim being Michael Kim, I was very excited to apply for something that was in his honor. He’s been a role model for a lot of journalists so being able to do something with his support meant a lot.”
Jeng said it’s powerful to not only see other people who look like her in the industry, but also Asian American athletes making strides and becoming more prominent figures as well.
“It means a lot to be in this space in a time where people are a lot more cognizant of how different experiences are for women in pretty much any industry and celebrating that,” Jeng said. “For women to get that support from allies is really important and I’m excited to see more women come in this industry.”
Kim is a groundbreaking anchor who opened doors for the Asian community at the Worldwide Leader in Sports. Kim was an anchor at ESPN’s SportsCenter for 17 years and was one of the original anchors who launched the innovative ESPNNews. Now working as the anchor of The Stadium on Marquee Sports Network, Kim has been a proud member of AAJA for decades and is a Sports Task Force legend who has supported the group from its inception.
Jeng said joining the Asian American Journalists Association has been instrumental to her career.
“Being a part of AAJA has been one of the best investments of my time professionally,” Jeng said. “It’s very powerful to be amongst people who understand your struggles in a very detailed way.
“It builds a lot of confidence and a lot of community as well. It’s an honor, really, to be in a community of outstanding journalists who not only have your back, but also believe you have what it takes to succeed.”
2021 Michael Kim Broadcast Fellowship judging panel
– Tommy Tran, CBS Sports HQ
– Lily Zhao, FOX6 Milwaukee
– Melissa Kim, WBAL 1090
– Michele Steele, ESPN
– Cameron Kim, NBC Sports
By Tami Nguyen
The Asian American Journalists Association’s Sports Task Force is proud to announce Susan Wong as the 2021 recipient of the Al Young Sports Journalism Scholarship.
Wong, pursuing a sports journalism major with a focus on photojournalism at Arizona State’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication, is the sixth recipient of this scholarship. Wong is the second woman and the first sophomore to receive the award.
“Susan is a well-rounded champion,” said STF scholarship co-chair Tami Nguyen. “Her dedication to sports photojournalism is admirable, and she is doing all of this so early in her career. It’s great to see more women in sports at AAJA.”
Wong credits her parents’ insistence that she keep a daily journal early in elementary school as the start of her “journalistic journey” as a writer. From there, her interest and participation in sports — including football, where she played in a tackle league — combined with her ability to shoot photos, planted the seed early on for a career in sports media. She joined her high school paper as a reporter; by her junior year, she was promoted to sports editor and eventually, editor-in-chief.
“My favorite thing about journalism is that you have to be so multifaceted and have all these different skills and that’s something I take pride in,” Wong said. “Journalism allows me to be creative and use all my different skills to talk to people, get to know them and tell their stories.”
While working at her high school paper, Wong was assigned to photograph her first football game. The staff photographers were unavailable to cover the story, and this became the first opportunity for Wong to shoot with a DSLR camera.
“The photo editors were really amazed by my photos and that encouraged me to continue shooting photos,” Wong said. “I just fell in love with it. At the end of the day, photos and visuals are just another way to tell stories.”
Wong is involved in several roles on campus. She serves as the president of ASU’s AAJA student chapter, treasurer of the Multicultural Student Journalists Coalition, co-social media chair of the Association for Women in Sports Media and assistant photo director for the Walter Cronkite Sports Network.
“Susan is already being called a ‘rising star’ by many of her Sports Task Force peers,” Young said. “In reading about her accomplishments, it’s easy to see why.”
While Wong was driving to cover a recent softball game, she was informed by Young that she was the recipient of this year’s Al Young Sports Journalism Scholarship.
“I felt so honored that Al took the time to personally call me and congratulate me for it,” Wong said. “It means a lot to me and my family. I called my mom when I got off the phone with Al and she was really happy for me”
The Al Young Scholarship is named after the nation’s first Asian American sportswriter at a metro daily newspaper who also was a trailblazer as the first to cover the NFL as a beat writer and the first to write a weekly column on women’s sports. During a career that spanned four decades, Young was a writer and editor at several publications, including the Boston Globe, USA Today and the New York Daily News, before retiring in 2012.
“Al Young led the path for us Asians in sports journalism,” Wong said. “I want to be able to do the same for young women in our industry.”
“I felt really honored and also really thankful for all the women who have paved the way for the next generation of young women,” Wong said. “I’ve always advocated for more representation in sports and in media, especially those who have been historically underrepresented in these categories.
“It means so much to me, to win such an esteemed award and to win a scholarship that can help me advance my studies, it motivates me to keep working hard and working towards my goals.”
“Hopefully,” Young said. “Winning this scholarship will move her another step closer to realizing that dream.”
2021 Al Young Sports Journalism Scholarship judging panel
– Al Young, retired print journalist
– Leighton Ginn, Ginn and Topics
– Karlo Sy Su, ESPN Los Angeles
– Victoria Lim, Journalist/PR/Content
By Nader Issa
The Asian American Journalists Association’s Sports Task Force is pleased to announce Cora Hall and Pranav Iyer as the recipients of the 2021 Jimmie & Suey Fong Yee Fellowship, generously funded by prominent sports agent Don Yee.
The $1,000 awards will go toward registration for the 2021 AAJA national convention later this year, and for the first time will cover expenses associated with reporting a story about Asians or Asian Americans in sports that the two recipients pitched as part of their applications. Hall and Iyer are the 10th and 11th overall recipients of the award.
“Thank you to the STF panel for their work on the 2021 Jimmy & Suey Fong Yee Fellowship,” Yee said. “Our family is very appreciative of STF’s efforts in going through each applicant’s pitch – and we had more applicants than ever to this point.”
“There were many applicants who proved to be qualified,” STF chairman Josh Tolentino said. “AAJA Sports Task Force is extremely grateful for Don Yee’s continued support and his commitment in helping better diversify the sports journalism industry and also advocate for more Asian Americans in sports.”
The fellowship was established with Yee’s support to honor his parents. Yee is one of the NFL’s most respected talent agents, representing several star players and coaches, including Tom Brady, Jimmy Garappolo, Julian Edelman and Sean Payton. Yee said he was excited about both recipients after learning more about their backgrounds, scholarly accomplishments and story pitches.
“Cora’s application asked excellent questions; questions that typically go unanswered or ignored. Cora’s voice and perspective is one that I am excited to support,” Yee said.
“Pranav’s self-initiative shined through in his application. The website, AmaznHQ.com, founded by Pranav, is one-of-a-kind, and I am honored to help him further his career with this fellowship.”
In addition to attending the AAJA national convention toward the end of the summer, Hall and Iyer will work over the next few months — with the help and guidance of the Sports Task Force — to report and pursue the stories they pitched for the fellowship.
Hall is set to graduate later this spring from Ferris State University in Michigan, where she serves as the editor-in-chief of her student newspaper, the Ferris State Torch. She’s interested in investigative sports reporting and said she enjoys the research that goes into those in-depth stories. Hall is also part of this year’s Sports Journalism Institute.
She will attend SJI, a journalism program created to help women and minorities into newsrooms, later this summer and intern at the Kansas City Star as part of the program.
For her story, Hall plans to examine the reasons behind the disproportionate lack of Asian Americans in collegiate sports. Her pitch was heavy on well-researched statistics that show a dramatic rise in Asian American populations in the United States hasn’t led to much increase in Asian American college athletes.
“It’s going to be a really valuable opportunity for me, more than I could really even say,” Hall said of the fellowship. “Because I came out of a really small school, and being able to have an opportunity this big and being able to work to get a story published in probably a bigger publication than I could have done on my own, having that connection is going to do a lot for me.
“It definitely means a lot to me because I come from a high school and a college that are not super diverse or don’t have a very big Asian community. So to find other people from the same culture, from the same background pursuing the same things as me, and to have mentors like that, it’s just another level of encouragement, mentorship that I’ve been looking for.”
Iyer is due to earn a master’s degree in journalism this spring at the University of Southern California. He graduated in May 2020 from Chapman University in California, where he played Division-III football.
While still in school in December 2019, Iyer launched AMAZN HQ, a publication dedicated to covering Asian American athletes, which he called his biggest reporting passion. Iyer said his identity and race play a big part in his work because, while he grew up in a predominantly Asian American community, not many around him dreamt of playing football or being a journalist. Then when he went to pursue his dream of playing football, he was not only the first Indian American teammate his peers ever had, but for some, he was the first Indian they’d ever met. That’s why Iyer was inspired by Yee’s work as an agent in the sports industry.
“Just hearing his story is inspirational,” Iyer said. “And he talks about the Asian American community and his passion for uplifting the community too, that is something that aligns directly with what I hope to do with my career.
“Those are really the types of stories that can help to inspire the community, can help to inspire that change — to give the younger generation inspiration but also to teach society that this change can happen and to see Asian American athletes in a different light.”
Iyer plans to report on an incoming wave of Asians and Asian Americans in professional sports that, while maybe not huge in numbers, looks as promising as ever and could shift the perception of Asian athletes.
Hall and Iyer both believe their introduction into the AAJA community will give them the support and connection they need to survive and grow in their profession.
“My identity plays a lot in the way I do my work and the way I view the industry as a whole,” Hall said. “That status quo as it is, reporters aren’t always thinking about these things. And it’s always the same people getting the same coverage and same voices being uplifted. And I’ve seen a lot of change in that and it’s really inspiring to me and influenced me over the last couple years and how I approach my work.”
“Seeing that representation and being able to connect with them and relate on certain struggles, certain upbringings and how to navigate through some of those, I think that is super important,” Iyer said. “Having that opportunity to form that community, to build these relationships, it’s so much bigger than just networking. I’m hoping it’s in a sense creating a family. …It’s organizations like these that allow people like me to pursue this past the dream.”
2021 Jimmie and Suey Fong Yee Fellowship judging panel
– Josh Tolentino, The Athletic
– Joon Lee, ESPN
– Nicole Yang, Boston Globe
– Michael Huang, ESPN
– Shehan Jeyarajah, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football
Donald H. Yee is a lawyer and partner with Yee & Dubin Sports, which represents professional athletes and coaches, including Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton.
This statement was prepared by Yee and presented to the Asian American Journalists Association’s Sports Task Force during a virtual panel held Feb. 18. ESPN’s Michele Steele delivered his message.
Thanks to all of you for being here tonight. And thanks to STF for providing me with this platform to pass on this message.
I would like to briefly address two topics tonight: one, the process of finding a job, and two, the environment of rising anti-Asian violence we’re seeing around the world.
I feel like I’ve been trying to find a job my entire life; in fact, one of the reasons I have my own business is because I simply couldn’t find a job that would allow me to grow in the way that I wanted, and without compromising my value system. But while I was looking, I, like many others, went through a lot of rejection, humiliation and embarrassment. There were many, many lows.
I finally came out the other end. And as you begin your job search, there is one trait I have tried to develop within myself, that I believe may help you with your search, and that trait is ‘resilience.’
Resilience is kind of the conclusion, so here are the components that you might want to keep in my mind as you consider developing this trait.
- First, know that rejection is just part of the process – it’s going to happen, but it really does happen to everyone.
- Second, generally speaking, rejection isn’t personal. When I was starting out, I used to personalize my failures and immaturely lash out at decision-makers. I finally learned that, generally speaking, sometimes the decision-makers just made a decision that literally had nothing to do with me, but something more positive about someone else.
- Third, don’t be bashful about asking for help. Learning how to ask for your help is a skill, and if you can overcome any shyness or reluctance, there are a lot of people who are willing to help – even if just a bit.
- Fourth, slowly develop your own network or community, and attending this Zoom is a great start.
- Fifth, be proactive. I would tell myself to just try to do one thing a day that advances me toward my goal; no matter how big or small. I tell my clients all the time that it’s hard to get a rebound if you’re outside the 3-point arc – but if every day you’re inching closer to be under the basket, you increase the chance the ball falls in your hands.
Finally, many of you may be aware of the rising anti-Asian violence. I actually dispute the ‘rising’ part as reported by mainstream media; in my personal experience, there’s always been lots of violence. On a personal note, my barely 5-foot tall mother was mugged twice – from behind – while in her 80’s. I have had many ugly emotions about these events and still do. I still get emotional thinking about it.
I don’t have many answers about what to do, but I do have theories right now. And one is, based on my own experience: keep self-actualizing, in essence, forming who you really are – be conscious of it. Ignore prevailing “narratives” on how to think or conforming to something that doesn’t feel authentic to you. Each of you is unique with different talents, and even though I’m not a journalist, I support STF because I see an army of warriors who’ll tell great stories. Maybe, just maybe, the stories will lead to more knowledge, and maybe that helps reduce the violence.
Thank you for your time and allowing me to share this with you.
Yee is one of Sports Task Force’s greatest supporters. He currently provides two annual fellowships to college students and recent graduates interested in sports journalism. Don created the fellowship to honor his parents, Jimmie and Suey Fong Yee.
The Asian American Journalists Association Sports Task Force urges contextualized and comprehensive news coverage around the racial identity of Miami Marlins general manager Kim Ng.
The proper way of characterizing someone’s racial or ethnic background is a complex matter of identity and culture. The question has emerged again with the Marlins’ hiring of Ng.
The AAJA Sports Task Force urges newsrooms to be mindful in their language of Ng’s racial identity, the ways she has described her own upbringing and background, and the accurate representation of people of Asian descent in past leadership roles.
–Kim Ng’s father is an Asian American of Chinese descent. Her mother was born in Thailand and is of Thai Chinese descent. Ng was born in Indiana. Ng has publicly embraced her Chinese descent.
–It is accurate to refer to Ng as the first woman, first Chinese American or first East Asian American to hold the title general manager of a Major League Baseball club.
–Ng is not the first Asian American to hold that title. That was an incorrect statement, oft-repeated Friday and throughout the weekend following her hiring. Farhan Zaidi, president of baseball operations for the San Francisco Giants, served as GM of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2015-18. Zaidi was born in Canada, is of Pakistani descent and grew up in the Philippines. While South Asians – such as Indians and Pakistanis – classify themselves as Asian, others are likely to misidentify them, reflecting patterns of “South Asian exclusion” and “racial assignment incongruity.”
–“Asian American” is an accurate and encompassing term to describe both Ng and Zaidi, as it applies to those from the continent of Asia.
–For additional context, it would be accurate to say “Ng will be in charge of all player-personnel decisions such as trades, free agent acquisitions and draft picks for the Marlins.”
–Proper pronunciation: Kim Ng (ANG).
We advise news organizations to consider the point of the story as well as the target audience when writing headlines and articles about the groundbreaking nature of Ng’s hiring.
Josh Tolentino, Chair
Melissa Kim, Communications
About AAJA STF:
AAJA Sports Task Force promotes diversity in the sports media industry through mentorships, scholarships and outreach programs. AAJA STF is proud of its work with other multicultural organizations to champion diversity.
For more information, contact the STF.
Facebook: Asian American Sports Journalists
The Asian American Journalists Association’s Sports Task Force (AAJA STF) is introducing an interactive professional development series called Career Café, a one-hour Zoom Q&A with journalism leaders to foster a more diverse and inclusive industry. Career Café offers the rare opportunity for attendees to directly interact with industry thought leaders in an intimate setting.
The inaugural installment features groundbreaking ESPN anchor Kevin Negandhi, the first Indian American to ever anchor at a national sports network. Negandhi will discuss wide-ranging topics, from his journey from Temple University to award-winning SportsCenter host, to overcoming obstacles and becoming a South Asian journalism pioneer. Career Café’s casual vibe invites interaction and participants are encouraged to ask questions.
When: Friday, Oct. 30, 2020, 1-2pm ET.
Cost: FREE (AAJA membership is encouraged)
The event is open to all supporters of diversity and inclusion. While free of charge, future engagement with the AAJA Sports Task Force, including AAJA membership, is encouraged.
About AAJA STF:
AAJA Sports Task Force promotes diversity in the sports media industry through mentorships, scholarships and outreach programs. AAJA STF is proud of its work with other multicultural organizations to champion diversity.
For more information, contact the STF: Twitter: @AAJASports
Facebook: Asian American Sports Journalists Web: sportstaskforce.com
By Josh Tolentino
The Asian American Journalists Association Sports Task Force is proud to announce Roshan Fernandez as the 2020 winner of the Al Young Sports Journalism Scholarship.
Fernandez, a magazine, newspaper and digital journalism major at Syracuse, is the fifth overall – and first freshman – recipient of the award.
“Roshan’s accomplishments, dedication and passion as a sports journalist, at such a young age, caught my eye immediately,” said Young, an executive member of AAJA’s Sports Task Force. “I was extremely impressed by his skillset as a writer, interviewer and editor – traits usually found in seasoned journalists and honed over time.”
“Roshan’s an all-star,” said AAJA Sports Task Force co-chair Michael Huang. “Sports Task Force sees a tremendous future for this young man. The Asian American sports journalism community needs to continue to foster young talent such as Roshan to ensure AAPIs are represented in all newsrooms.”
Fernandez grew up in Northern California and first became involved with sports reporter as a junior in high school. He worked as a visuals editor at his school newspaper before becoming editor in chief during his senior year. It was then he noticed his interest in sports journalism didn’t match those of his friends.
“Everyone said they wanted to be a bio major or work at Apple or Google,” Fernandez said. “I was never really interested in those types of things.”
While working at his high school paper, El Estoque, Fernandez developed a passion in interviewing subjects across the school, specifically in sports. His favorites were soccer and baseball and he felt like he was able to relate easily to many of the athletes.
“I found it interesting because I sort of knew what they were going through as a student athlete and I wanted to tell their stories,” Fernandez said. “I learned soccer wasn’t going to be my future, and I realized journalism was actually what I wanted to do.”
Heading into his senior year, Fernandez landed a spot at Northwestern’s Medill Cherubs program, a five-week summer journalism institute intended for rising seniors seeking the inside scoop on professional journalism and looking to connect with peers who are just as passionate about pursuing the same career.
After enrolling at Syracuse, Fernandez joined the campus newspaper, the Daily Orange, where he currently serves as a digital editor. Although his spring semester courses on campus were derailed by COVID-19 concerns, Fernandez is still attending online courses from his home in Cupertino, Calif. Upon completion of the spring semester, he is set to intern with the Chatam Anglers of the Cape Cod Baseball League. Fernandez aspires to be a professional baseball beat reporter.
“Baseball has it’s 5-tool player, but I think we’ve found our own freshman phenom,” Young said.
When Fernandez was recently informed he was recipient of the Al Young Sports Journalism Scholarship, he spoke with Young over the phone.
The Al Young Scholarship is dedicated to Young, the first Asian American sports writer to work for a metro daily newspaper. Young worked for several outlets, including the New York Daily News, Boston Globe and USA TODAY before retiring in 2012.
“He’s had an amazing career, it means a lot for someone to have high praise for a kid like me,” Fernandez said. “He’s been super helpful in terms of giving me advice and guiding me for my future.”
Fernandez hopes to attend his first AAJA convention soon and he plans to become more active within the Bay Area chapter.
“I hope that,” Young said. “Winning this scholarship so early in his college career will continue to propel him to even greater heights down the road.”