I was hired on as the International Examiner’s staff writer in 1985, leading to a short stint as editor in 1989. When I first came on board, computers came with monitors as big as old portable TVs. IE had two computers, a brand called Morrow, and then later a Kaypro, in which the keyboard could be snapped onto the top of the drive, making for a “portable” suitcase—it was more like lugging lead. Glowing green text on a black background was what you stared at all day. The word processing program, Wordstar, moved the cursor around by using certain letters of the alphabet—there were no directional keys on keyboards then.
Still, what a marvel computer word processing was! Correcting mistakes on the screen? Cutting and pasting, moving whole chunks of text on the screen? Wooowww! Especially from the generation for whom the IBM Selectric and using Wite-Out was state of the art. The daisy-wheel printer tacked out text at the speed of a super-typist, yet text appeared on paper exactly the way you had typed it onscreen. Oooohhh! Then came the dot-matrix printer, even faster with its printing head sliding back and forth on continuous perforated paper. Check that out!
Hey, IE was state of the art, being that the contributors dropped off typewritten hard copy, and most of our time was spent typing copy into the computer. As for the graphic design and layout department, editor Ron Chew and I would bring floppy disks to Franklin Press in Pioneer Square. There, copy got spit out into columns to be laid out by hand. Even the thread-thin borders around photos were done by hand—surgery with an X-Acto knife. Mess it up, start all over again. #%&*!!!
When I signed up again as assistant editor to Editor Nhien Nguyen from 2006 to 2007, I got knocked over the head by the speed at which info by then was processed and produced, kicking my technically-dormant self into the 21st century. Of course, everything was computerized and digitized by that time. Reporters were required to take their own photos with digital cameras—no more bringing the black-and-white shooter in tow. Layout and graphic design got shuffled around on the monitor screen. And, of course, the Internet had changed everything. No more typing in stories. You edited them as they arrived in your inbox. And, that meant writing more copy. Stories that I used to have the luxury of about a week to do during my first tour, then I often had to get ‘em done in a day. You want it when?
WHAT HASN’T CHANGED
Through it all, to me, IE’s raison d’être has always been:
• To cover what the mainstream media does cover. Yes, daily news sources have a lot less time to cover events and issues, but when it comes to coverage of the local and national Asian Pacific Islander community, resorting to stereotypes and jumping to conclusions from a limited set of sources meets deadlines. IE provides the more in-depth alternative, from the API point of view.
• To cover what the mainstream media does not cover. Every issue of the IE takes care of that. Not only the major events and issues, but IE’s longtime arts coverage—are you going to see that anywhere else? IE can’t compete with the reach of the mainstream media, but better covered than not covered at all.
So, here’s to another 40 years of the IE providing us with the only, and the other.
Ken Mochizuki is the author of the children’s picture books Baseball Saved Us; Heroes; Passage to Freedom: the Sugihara Story; the young adult novel Beacon Hill Boys; and now also authors nonfiction history, including Meet Me At Higo: An Enduring Story of a Japanese American Family.