Erika Lee is a multimedia journalist currently working at CBS 2 News in Boise, Idaho. With a wide range of experiences in news, she is skilled with storytelling and passionate about pushing for more Asian representation in the industry. As the only Chinese-American broadcast journalist in her city, Erika has been working to increase visibility and diversity in the community. She shared about her experiences and ways people can support AAPI journalists, such as the AAPI Journalists Therapy Relief Fund which was created in response to the rising anti-Asian hate crimes. Learn more about Erika and her journey in her profile feature below.
Q: What sparked your interest in becoming a multimedia journalist? Can you tell us a bit about your career journey?
Erika: “As a child, I've always loved reading and writing stories. English was my favorite subject in school and I would always write my own stories in my free time. I wanted to be a young adult novelist growing up. I didn't even realize journalism was an option until I realized it could combine everything I love — meeting new people, writing, storytelling and combine it with current events to make an impact. I studied journalism at the University of Southern California. I first got involved in my school newspaper as a writer and then later became the arts and entertainment editor. My school wanted every student in the journalism program to be well rounded, so I was also required to do shifts in our school media center/news station. I didn't know much about the broadcast world, but ended up pushing myself to be more involved in the program. Now, I'm glad I did because I work in broadcast news now!”
Q: Can you share about your experience working in news as an Asian American? What are actions we can take to advocate for more Asian representation in the news industry?
Erika: “My favorite thing about working in news as an Asian American is that I can be a voice for my people/community. I can push for more of our stories to be told accurately and fairly, I can highlight the things we are doing, and I am able to be an example for other Asian Americans to see that they can do the news as well. Currently, Asian Americans are less than 3% of the broadcast media workforce. If you count the ones that are on-air, the number is even lower. So, even just being part of changing that statistic is very meaningful to me. I am an active and proud member of the Asian American Journalists Association (IG: @aajaofficial). It is an organization that I've been a part of since college and they do amazing work to uplift the AAPI community to make sure that we get more opportunities in the news. I would highly recommend anyone to join if they are interested in mentorship, journalism programs, or scholarships. Right now, we are fundraising for an AAPI journalist therapy relief fund (this was in response to the rising anti-Asian hate crimes).”
Q: This past January marked your 1 year anniversary of being a full-news reporter! What have been the most valuable lessons you have learned? Is there anything you wish you had known before entering this industry?
Erika: “Before being a full time news reporter, I interned at many news stations, worked as an assistant for one year after graduation at ABC in Los Angeles, then worked as a web producer at CBS in Los Angeles. It was such a hard decision for me to decide to leave home to do local news in a small market, but I've grown in so many ways I otherwise wouldn't have if I had just stayed where I was. A valuable lesson I learned is to have a good attitude and have good time management. Those are two things that I've realized can make your work life extremely easier. Before entering this industry, I wish someone would have told me that it is not glamorous at all like you see on television. You will work long hours/holidays, be underpaid, so if you're in news just for the vanity, it's probably not a good path to go down. You have to truly enjoy writing, editing, storytelling and have an interest in the community you cover.”
Q: What is your favorite story you have ever worked on? And what do you look for when pitching a new idea or coordinating a story?
Erika: “I don't know if I have a favorite story -- I have a handful of stories I enjoyed doing. I liked a recent story I did on how the hard of hearing/deaf community is navigating the pandemic, an investigative story I did on a triple murder in Idaho, a vigil honoring the victims of the anti-Asian hate crimes in Atlanta, as well as another story on the rise of anti-Asian violence in America in general.”
Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Erika: “I think I'm most proud of just improving as a person and as a storyteller everyday. Some days are harder than others, especially when the 2020-2021 news cycle has been so draining and emotionally exhausting. I'm honestly just proud of continuing to keep pressing on and try my best to make a difference.”
Q: Where do you hope to see yourself in 10 years?
Erika: “In ten years, hopefully I'll have written my own book for younger Asian American girls! And continue to do storytelling and community work in some sort of capacity.”
Q: What do you root your identity in?
Erika: “I root my identity most in God. As a believer, Even though I love what I do, I know at the end of the day, my job is just a job and that my identity comes from Christ.”
Erika is wearing the Pull On Midi Skirt in Mini Cheetah Sage from our Pre Spring 2021 Collection.
Photography by Erika Lee