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Posted 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 Star-Bulletin.

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.

Educational Background
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's Aspirations

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 job.

“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 to them.”

Goal Origination

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 journalism.

“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 summer.

“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.

Future Plans
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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