Sunday, November 20, 2005; 1:18 p.m.
Journalist on the Rise
Venus Lee has touched many lives with her journalistic works. Her
stories have appeared in numerous publications, including the Honolulu
HONOLULU -- As the sun slowly rose on a blustery summer morning,
Venus Lee groggily rolled out of bed in order to arrive at the newsroom
by 6:30 a.m.
The 20-year-old aspiring journalist spent her three-month summer
vacation working at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Hawaii’s oldest
continuously published daily newspaper that currently distributes
two editions per weekday.
“I gained real-world practical knowledge and a wonderful working
experience,” Lee said. “The internship provided me the
opportunity to develop contacts in the tight-knit journalism business
as well as within the local community. It was the best feeling in
the world to receive emails from our readers pertaining to the way
my work had touched or made a difference in their lives.”
Lee covered a great variety of stories ranging from hard local news,
to features and sports.
For the city desk, she covered some of the major beats, such as
police, government and the judicial court system. She also wrote
obituaries, news briefs and stories concerning breaking news and
current events. Lee said her favorite piece was regarding an exhibit
featuring the history of karate in the islands because it allowed
her to discover a hidden culture and unveil it to the general public.
The exhibit’s owner, Charles Goodin, said it was the first
time a story of this type had appeared on the front page of a major
publication and had covered the topic in depth.
“Lee showed her eager enthusiasm to learn by consistently
asking us to critique her work and continuously asking for additional
assignments,” Star-Bulletin city editor Stirling Morita said.
“Due to her exceptional performance as an intern, we requested
that she continue working for us.”
Lee continues to receive story assignments as a stringer based in
Los Angeles. Her latest story was a feature piece on a former Hawaii
water polo player at UCLA who is the team captain and goal leader
for the defending national champions.
Lee is currently a junior at the Bruin’s cross-town
rival, the University of Southern California. She is majoring in
journalism and social science with a minor in entertainment communication.
During her collegiate career, she has taken a variety of journalism
classes from the prestigious Annenberg School for Communication
that consistently produces a journalism program that ranks among
the top five in the nation. Her class selection covers topics such
as the profession’s history, news-writing basics, reporting
skills, production expertise and media studies.
Lee’s academic success has earned her scholarships as well
as membership in a variety of organizations. She belongs to several
honor societies and is currently a Renaissance Scholar candidate
because her broad interests help her excel academically.
While completing her undergraduate journalism education, Lee continues
to gain newsroom experience by interning, attending workshops and
participating in volunteer programs.
Lee said she desires to eventually to work for a major newsroom
as an investigative journalist reporting on social and political
issues plaguing today’s society. She wishes to share important
skills, values and ideas with the community as well as enhance the
environment by rectifying social injustices.
As an impoverished female Asian-American born and raised in Hawaii,
Lee experienced many hardships. However, she persevered through
the discrimination and financial difficulties to become the person
she is today. Her experiences provided her with a distinctive framework,
perspective and understanding of racial dynamics.
Lee is currently a member of the Asian-American Journalism Association,
whose mission is to encourage Asian American and Pacific Islanders
to enter the field of journalism and increase fair and accurate
coverage of the issues pertinent to them. She speaks basic Hawaiian
and conversational Japanese. As a recipient of the Japan-U.S. Senate
Exchange scholarship in 2002, she lived in Japan during the summer
and immersed herself in the culture.
In the future, Lee said she hopes to explore other countries. She
is considering a study-abroad program in London offering a global
perspective contrasting the journalism profession in the United
States and in Europe.
Lee was recently awarded the Wal-Mart Scholarship, for her efforts
to increase the level of diversity in newsrooms and the amount of
exposure allotted to minority issues. Lee said in the future, she
wishes to re-vamp the coverage of minority and gender issues by
featuring it full-time increasing the amount of exposure and providing
a complete perspective on the topic.
In October, Lee met her role model, L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez,
who’s most recent articles included a five-part series exposing
the deplorable conditions among the city’s homeless population
living on Skid Row. His work prompted Mayor Antonio Villagrosa to
immediately re-organize his budget to include funds to help the
mentally-ill homeless find adequate assistance and care. Currently,
Lee is working with Lopez to arrange a day to follow him on the
“In the future, I hope to inspire other young journalists
as Steve has done for me,” Lee said. “My position as
a respected female journalist will allow me to be a role model for
women and minorities and a public advocate for the issues critical
Lee said given her experiences, she always knew she wanted to rectify
social injustices. She didn’t know which medium would be the
best way to accomplish her goal. During high school, the Punahou
graduate worked with the state-of-the-art video equipment to produce
weekly shows airing on public television instead of the school’s
monthly newspaper read by a small circulation of Punahou students.
As a result, her natural inclination was to declare a major in broadcast
“Luckily, USC’s journalism program requires me to take
classes in both print and broadcast,” Lee said. “It
provides me a strong foundation in both disciplines and a very easy
transition when I decide to switch majors.”
Although Lee is a declared broadcast journalism major, she said
she decided to work at a newspaper instead of a news studio this
“Broadcast journalism has the power to impact a lot of people
in a short period of time, yet the industry has turned to ‘spot-news
reporting,’ which lacks the complexity and ability to explain
the issues print journalism accomplishes,” Lee said.
Lee said she works for her school’s Annenberg TV News because
she finds the job to be more demanding and representative of the
way a real newsroom operates.
“It also gives me a unique advantage over my peers because
I have both print and broadcast experience,” Lee said.
Lee hopes to continue gaining newsroom experience by applying for
several summer internship programs. She believes it will provider
her with valuable knowledge, experience and opportunity.
Photo Courtesy of Wal-Mart
Venus Lee is currently a junior at USC majoring in journalism.
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