The Pacific Citizen has been a part of JACL’s storied history. The newspaper was called the Nikkei Shimin in 1929 when JACL was established, which was Nihongo for “Japanese American Citizen.” It was one of the first newspapers serving the Japanese community entirely in English because it was, as its name implied, written by and for Japanese Americans — the Nisei.
The name Pacific Citizen was chosen by a national contest in 1931, and a decade later, when JAs were sent to American concentration camps during World War II, the P.C. moved its headquarters to Salt Lake City, Utah, and kept publishing the news. The main subject of the paper’s coverage was conditions in the camps, and after the war, the P.C. was even nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
The paper eventually moved its newsroom to Los Angeles, following the returning JA community in the 1950s. In the 1970s and ’80s, the P.C. was at the forefront of covering the redress movement. It was a platform for a diversity of viewpoints — columnist Bill Hosokawa, a colleague of mine in Denver who wrote his “Out of the Frying Pan” columns for the P.C. for decades, was opposed to the reparations that JAs were demanding.
In the 2000s, when I had my first stint as P.C. Editorial Board chair, the paper was at the forefront of expanding its coverage to a pan-Asian palette of news stories. It won a couple of awards for its work.
Now, the P.C. continues its long tradition of serving as an important vehicle for JACL news, as well as for news about the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. The P.C. has struggled financially as JACL has struggled financially. It’s not the newspaper’s fault — in fact, the P.C. staff is cut to the bone, with a skeleton staff. I’ve worked for four decades in newspapers and online media, and I can tell you it’s miraculous that the P.C. continues its good, important work.
JACL last year added a $17 surcharge for members who want the print version of the P.C. mailed to them. It’s an acknowledgement that printed newspapers are almost a thing of the past, except that many JACL members would still prefer a paper they can hold instead of one they can read on a computer, tablet or smartphone.
But, the future is the digital version of the P.C. It’s inevitable. And to prepare for the future (which is fast coming), the P.C.’s annual Spring Campaign is more important than ever. The P.C. will need to invest in new equipment and “cloud” space for its digital archives, though the staff is working with organizations to store PDF versions of the paper. To run its social media properly to attract the next generation of JACL (and nonmember) readers, the P.C. will eventually need to pay a staffer to run its online efforts, just like other news organizations do.
Maybe you’ve noticed that more ads are appearing on the P.C.’s website? One way you can help the P.C. is to click on the Amazon.com ad on the home page whenever you need to buy something from the online retailer, and anything you purchase in the next 24 hours will get the P.C. a percentage of that sale. It may not be much, but if all of us get in the habit, the small amounts will add up!
The other way that you can help is to support the P.C. with a donation of any amount to our Spring Campaign. Please visit https://www.pacificcitizen.org/donations.
Or, you can send along a check the old-fashioned way, through snail mail, to the Pacific Citizen, 123 S. Onizuka St., Suite 313, Los Angeles, CA 90012.
Members of the Pacific Citizen Editorial Board met last weekend at the offices of the P.C. in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo, and we reaffirmed our commitment to the success of the P.C. Please join us in showing your appreciation for the P.C., and help it keep doing its job for you.
The P.C. staff thanks you. The P.C. Editorial Board thanks you. And I thank you. Deeply.
Gil Asakawa, Pacific Citizen Editorial Board chair