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gil asakawa

HELLO, MY NAME IS

GIL ASAKAWA


Howdy. I'm a writer, editor and online content expert with over 25 years of experience in a variety of media.

I'm the Manager of Student Media for the University of Colorado's School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Boulder. I oversee the university's student-run news website, the CU Independent. Together with the team of J-school editors and volunteer reporting staff, we'll be testing many of the new technologies and features that news companies will have to adopt as journalism evolves into the digital era. It's an exciting time to be working with student journalists to develop the cutting-edge skills that will make them leaders in the industry.

I also consult and train newsrooms and organizations in online content strategies, emerging media (e-readers, tablets and mobile), Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices and social media.

Before joining CU , I was Manager of Audience Development for MediaNews Group Interactive, the online side of the company that owns The Denver Post, San Jose Mercury News, Detroit News and St. Paul Pioneer Press, among many others. I analyzed traffic to MediaNews Group websites and recommended and implemented action based on SEO and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) best practices to increase traffic and interaction. I also trained newsroom staff and interactive content producers on best practices for both editorial SEO and use of Social Media. And, I helped with both the strategic planning and implementation of cutting-edge features, redesigns and new sites.

I first dove into the exciting -- and fast-changing -- world of the Internet way back in the day, in 1996, when I took my first step in "cyberspace" as Content Editor for Digital City Denver, a new media startup subsidiary of America Online.

I left after two years of guiding Digital City Denver to work with another exciting young company, Trip.com, a successful travel Web site. As "Content Producer Potentate" (yeah, it was the go-go eraand we could pick whatever stupid title we wanted). I was in charge of the site's editorial content, including an online magazine and weekly e-mail newsletter (I grew the subscribers from 100,000 subscribers to almost a million readers worldwide during my time).

I also established a successful online community of business travelers who connected with each other in Trip.com's message boards. In fact, the "Hot Talk" travel forums were so popular that after I elft, and when the company was sold, its members continued "Hot Talk"on their own, using EZBoard (now Yuku).

My next position was Director of Content for a Golden, Colorado-based Web company called ServiceMagic that connects consumers to service contractors. In April, 2000, I was hired as Director of Editorial and Community Development for Denver-based TamTam, a company that offers affordable solutions and software to simplify international business.

I was hired in 2003 as Executive Producer for DenverPost.com, and I was in charge of the day-to-day operation of the Web site, but also guiding the future content of the site, and managing the many exciting opportunities that are always evolving in new media.

In 2006, I was recruited as Managing Editor, Web Product Development for Advance Internet, the New Jersey-based company that manages the Web sites for the Newark Star-Ledger, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Portland Oregonian, the Pulitzer-winning New Orleans Times-Picayune and others.

I helped the company with its many projects to improve its Web sites, bringing my extensive online experience and passion for community building, which these days is called "Web 2.0." I worked with Advance's crack technology team and project managers to launch these projects while keeping an eye on the always-emerging tech horizon for future strategies.

My next position was Director of Content for Examiner.com, a Denver-based company that owns Examiner newspapers in San Francisco and Washington DC, and now has almost 50,000 bloggers producing hyperlocal and topical content across the country.

My duties included managing the online editors at the three newspapers, as well as sheperding the news and other content on the sites as well as sites that we operated in other markets across the country. I also helped Examiner.com transition to its current model, and recruited some of the company's first group of "Examiners."

At every stop on my online journey, I've focused on emerging technologies to help build communities and expand the ways the Internet can be leveraged to serve audiences.

In 2004, I was awarded a Fellowship to attend an Online Journalism Seminar at the Western Knight Center for Specialized Journalism; I was also awarded a scholarship to attend a Digital Storytelling Seminar at the Media Center at the American Press Institute. I'm a member of the Online News Association the Society of Professional Journalists and the President of the Denver Chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association.

I'm often asked to speak about the Internet and online news, and serve on panels about new media.

I spoke at the first-ever SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, Texas in 2000. I've moderated panels about blogging and digital media for AAJA, WordCamp Denver, and BANANA, a conference of Asian American bloggers, I've been a panelist for many organizations, including the Society of Professional Journalists, American Society of Sunday and Feature Editors, Rocky Mountain Internet User Group, South By Southwest Music, MediaNews Group Editors' Retreat, and Associated Press NewsTrain.

I've spoken about "What's New in New Media" for the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education at Harvard College and Northwestern University, and served as a judge for Cox Newspapers' annual "Best of Cox" contest. Since 2005, I've also been a judge for the annual editorial contest for the Association of Alternative Newspapers.

The Denver Business Journal included me in its "Who's Who in Technology, Telecommunications and Media" special issues, and I received an "honorable mention" in the 1998 Online Writing Contest sponsored by TheWell.com for a "Nikkei View" column about Japanese names. Steve Outing, an online media columnist for Editor & Publisher magazine, was kind enough to profile me in October, 1996 about my role in the early days of the Internet craziness and how it differed from the old ways of "dead tree media."

As a freelance writer and editor, my clients have included The Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, Front Range Tech Biz, Boulder Magazine, 5280 Magazine, Gaiam, Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, Empowerful Changes, Japan America Society of Colorado, and the "Orations & Essays" project. I was also asked to write a commentary, "Beneath the Surface of the Japanophile Fad," for Newsweek Japan, which was a thrill -- I wrote it in English and they translated it into Japanese.

Since 1998, I've written an online column called Nikkei View, about pop culture and politics from a Japanese American perspective. I also serve as the editorial board chair for the Pacific Citizen, the national newspaper of the Japanese American Citizens League, the oldest Asian Pacific American civil rights organization in the US.

My book, "Being Japanese American," (Stone Bridge Press), about Japanese American heritage and culture, was published in 2004. It's been fun to have it out and receive nice feedback from the JA community. I was also asked to do a reading and booksigning for the Japanese American National Museum in LA. You can read about the book by clicking the cover. It's available from better bookstores near you, or you can order it from Amazon.com.

I also maintain a Nikkeiview Blog where I write more often than the Nikkeiview column site, and cover not just Asian American topics but also pop culture, media, technology and life in New Jersey.

My path to the media (both new and old) wasn't direct.

I studied painting and photography at Pratt Institute in New York City and graduated with a BFA in 1979. I just recently posted a new page called the "Gillery" (har har) with some samples of my artwork. I'll put more up from time to time.

After college, I was a reporter and the music editor for Westword, Denver's weekly alternative newspaper, from 1983-1991, and I have also contributed articles to a number of regional and national publications, including Rolling Stone, Pulse, Request, No Depression, Creem, New Country, Flatirons and Baby Boomer Collectibles (a cover story about the history of the Ford Mustang, still my dream car -- the classic 1965-'67 models, naturally).

I co-authored, with Leland Rucker, "The Toy Book," a history of baby-boom era toys that was published by Alfred Knopf in 1991. As a proud Boomer, I was raised spoiled rotten, and I wanted to celebrate my generation's consumerism. The best part of writing the book? Being on the "Today Show" the week before Christmas, playing with all the toys we'd bought as "research" for the book. I've also written entries for the "Music Hound Essential Album Guides" series of books (1996-'98, Visible Ink Press), for Rock, Country, Folk and Blues.

Between 1991 and '92 I helped to launch "E-Town," a National Public Radio program based in Boulder, Colorado, that features live music and environmental spoken-word segments. I helped book the musical acts and handled the box office chores and marketing for the program's first two seasons.

In 1992 I became the entertainment editor of the Colorado Springs Gazette and oversaw the concept and launch of the newspaper's weekly entertainment magazine. The Gazette was one of the first U.S. newspapers to put a Web site on the Internet, and when I read my first articles online and realized someone in Japan could be reading it at the same time, I knew my future was in new media, not "dead tree" media such as newspapers.

My other media experience includes appearances on several Colorado radio stations, and "Music Talk," a talk show on KBCO in Boulder co-hosted by Leland Rucker. Leland Rucker and I also co-hosted a regular music-video segment on Denver's KUBD-TV. From 1993-1996 I was a weekly entertainment reporter for KKTV in Colorado Springs, and since 1998 I've been a regular guest host during Colorado Public Television's quarterly fundraising drives.

I have been a part-time instructor, teaching a course on E-Commerce and Online Marketing for the Art Institute of Colorado's Web program. Perhaps someday I'll get back to academia. I loved the teaching part, but not the paperwork and bureaucracy.

I'm committed to community work. I've been an executive board member of the Japan-America Society of Colorado, and served for seven years on the national board of the Japanese American Citizens League (I'm a past president of the Mile-Hi Chapter).

Pan-Asian issues and organizations are also important to me: I served on the operations committee for the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival for eight years, and now volunteer every year for the pan-Asian event. I'm a former board member of the Aurora Asian/Pacific Community Partnership, sponsors of the annual Aurora Asian Film Festival (which unfortunately is no longer held). I helped organize and moderated a panel during the Japanese American National Museum's 2008 conference in Denver, and I've been asked to run a 2011 program at JANM in Los Angeles, about the history and role of Japanese community newspapers in the U.S..

I've always enjoyed public speaking, especially motivational speaking. I was the keynote speaker for the 2003 Unity Day at Fountain Valley School in Colorado Springs, where I spoke about prejudice and diversity. I was also invited to speak at Colorado College about Asians in the media. I'm the master of ceremonies for Asian community events such as the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival and Denver's annual Cherry Blossom Festival. I've been asked to give the keynote speech for the JACL's 2005 national youth conference in Salt Lake City, and I've read excerpts from "Being Japanese American" at the Japanese American National Museum. In Feb. 2006, I moderated a panel in Chicago for the Japanese American Day of Remembrance.

I'm available as a source for Asian American views for other media. I've been interviewed by newspapers such as the Miami Herald and Houston Chronicle about the flood of Asian popular culture into the American mainstream. And, I was asked to record a commentary about the opening of "Pearl Harbor" for Pacific Time, a weekly program on KQED, San Francisco's National Public Radio station. In August 2010, I was interviewed by the Japanese edition of the Wall Street Journal for a story on the Japanese American perspective on 65th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I've helped my partner Erin Yoshimura, who is a Diversity and Emotional Intelligence Trainer, and her company, Empowerful Changes, to conduct workshops and facilitate meetings. Erin and I have also individually and as a duo, served as emcees for various community events.

Together, Erin and I launched an online talk -show in 2009 called visualizAsian.com, where we have live interviews with Asian American leaders and newsmakers. The audience can listen in via conference line on the phone, or on a webcast. The recordings are also available for a limited time to stream or download. We've spoken to a variety of guests, including former Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta, actress Tamlyn Tomita, pioneering Hmong American lawmaker Mee Moua, Angry Asian Man blogger Phil Yu, author Lac Su, spoken word artist Beau Sia and many more.

Life is full, always unpredictable and always busy -- it'll be interesting to see where I am and what I'm doing in another 20 years!

Thanks for stopping by, and feel free to write me anytime.

-- Gil
Updated August, 2010


  • If this page has piqued your interest, here's a more detailed resume.

  • Here are some samples of my writing, including book reviews, music features, a radio commentary and a lecture I've given about the influence of Japanese pop culture on the U.S. I've also posted Web-only writing such as a link to a rambling journal of my trip to the SXSW music industry conference in Texas in March, 1999 and a link to an online tribute to my late friend and fellow writer, Alan Dumas.

  • I've added a "Gillery" with some samples of my artwork, to prove to my mom that I didn't waste my expensive art school education. I'll put more up from time to time.

  • I'm a Baby Boomer born in the biggest year of the boom, 1957. Here's a 1957 Timeline with the major events and fads from that year. (I can compile similar "TimeLines" for any year from the 1920s to the 1990s.)

  • I co-authored "The Toy Book" (Knopf, 1991) with Leland Rucker. It's a fun history of the baby-boom generation's toys. It featured an interactive cover, with bells and whistles literally powered by hidden batteries. It's out of print as a hardcover, but we hope to someday reprint it as a paperback. Here is the book's introduction.

  • Last, and most proudly, have I mentioned my Nikkei View blog, covering popular culture and politics from a Japanese American perspective? The column now has readers in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Israel, Germany, Spain, Denmark and all over the U.S.

  • But wait -- there's more! Check out Erinand my interview series, visualizAsian.com and let me know what you think!

Thanks for taking the time to visit!


Contact me at:
gil@gillers.com

Copyright 1998-Present by Gil Asakawa

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