Anish Vasudevan of Syracuse receives 2022 Al Young Sports Journalism Scholarship

The Asian American Journalists Association’s Sports Task Force is proud to announce Anish Vasudevan as the recipient of the 2022 Al Young Sports Journalism Scholarship.

Vasudevan is a sophomore at Syracuse University pursuing a Magazine, News & Digital Journalism major. He is the seventh winner of this award, second consecutive sophomore and second journalism student from Syracuse, following the footsteps of his friend, Roshan Fernandez (2020).

The 19-year-old Indian American serves as the assistant sports editor at The Daily Orange student-run newspaper and beat writer for Syracuse’s storied lacrosse program. 

Vasudevan, a second-time applicant, was shocked when he received the news of winning the Al Young Sports Journalism Scholarship.

“I was walking in a snowstorm when I got a call,” Vasudevan said. “It was Al and I was just in disbelief. It’s amazing knowing of his status and how he has paved the way. The fact he took the time to read my story and just receiving his recognition is amazing.”

The Al Young Sports Journalism Scholarship is a $2,000 award that celebrates the nation’s first Asian American sportswriter at a metro daily newspaper who also blazed a trail as the first to cover the NFL as a beat writer and first to write a weekly column focused on women’s sports. During his four-decade career, 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.

“Besides his writing skills,” said Young, a founding member of AAJA’s Sports Task Force, “what impressed me was the epiphany Anish related in his essay about writing the story on Syracuse football player Ahmad Masood, one of the school’s rare Asian American athletes of similar South Asian descent and background as himself.”

Vasudevan said his goal was to give Masood a voice to represent his Pakistani heritage at a campus where Asian American students make up less than 7% of the school’s population. The statistic came as a culture shock to Vasudevan, who graduated from Monte Vista High School in Cupterino, CA that had a 90% Asian student body, including 50% Indian American.

Vasudevan further saw that lack of diversity while covering games at the Carrier Dome at Syracuse, and while shadowing a reporter at San Francisco 49ers training camp.

“Anish realized then that his role and mission moving forward as a journalist of color was to use his platform, in newsrooms that often lack diversity, to provide vital insight necessary to highlight story of minority athletes,” Young said.

“Hopefully winning this scholarship will help Anish move another step closer to his sports career goals.”

Vasudevan said he’s fired up to receive the scholarship and aspires to start a pop culture magazine for Syracuse. After graduation, he dreams of writing “the weirdest and most creative leads” for an outlet such as The Ringer, marrying his passions for sports and pop culture.

“I’m grateful for everything,” said Vasudevan. “I’ve had a lot of people help me along the way. Getting recognition from somebody with Al’s stature is amazing. You wouldn’t be able to tell me in ninth grade that I would get something like this. I can’t be more thankful and grateful.”

For additional information regarding AAJA’s scholarship/fellowship opportunities, please visit : www.aaja.org/news-and-resources/scholarships-internships/

Jason Omori of Georgetown named AAJA STF’s inaugural Bleacher Report Social Content intern

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.”

The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) Sports Task Force has named Jackson Safon the inaugural winner of its ESPN internship.

Safon is graduating with a degree from the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. 

“The process to find one that was most worthy of this ESPN/AAJA Sports Task Force internship wasn’t easy, with so many strong candidates,” said Howard Chen, STF’s chairman. “Special thanks to our judging panel for going through all the entries and selecting USC’s Jackson Safon, our inaugural winner of this incredible opportunity. Think about it: this is a paid internship with furnished housing covered! Thank you to ESPN and Disney for continuing to champion diversity with this internship.”

There were over 43 applicants for the ESPN/ AAJA Sports Task Force internship, but Jackson distinguished himself with his grades and his extensive work as in digital and broadcast media.

Nader Issa Wins STF’s Al Young Sports Journalism Scholarship

The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) Sports Task Force has named Nader Issa as the second recipient of the Al Young Sports Journalism Scholarship.

Issa is a senior journalism and sports management major at Loyola University in Chicago. The managing editor of the student newspaper, the Loyola Phoenix, Issa broke a national story in spring 2016 about Sheryl Swoopes, one of the greatest women’s basketball players. Issa’s reporting revealed mistreatment allegations of players by Swoopes, the head coach of the women’s basketball team.

“This was a very close judging process. We had a tremendous pool of applicants who we feel all have bright futures,” said Howard Chen, the Sports Task Force chairman. “Nader is committed to sports journalism, and he demonstrated his potential in breaking the Swoopes story that landed him national interviews, including Outside the Lines.”

Currently a student member of AAJA, Issa attended the AAJA Convention last summer in Las Vegas.

“It was good to know that there are people supporting me, the way everyone at the Sports Task Force has since I joined AAJA,” Issa said. “It’s reaffirming to know my hard work is paying off.”

While wrapping up his studies at Loyola, Issa will soon start a Metro internship at the Chicago Sun-Times.

“Nader’s tenacity, commitment and desire to succeed as a sports journalist makes him a worthy winner,” said Al Young. “His Sheryl Swoopes investigative piece that became a national story is testimony that he’s on the right track. I’m delighted that this scholarship will help him move forward.”

The Al Young Sports Journalism Scholarship is named after an award-winning journalist whose career spanned more than four decades. Young was the nation’s first Asian American sportswriter at a metro daily. He was a writer and editor at various publications including the Boston Globe, USA Today and the New York Daily News before he retired in 2012.