Tomorrow, June 20, and Saturday, June 21, will mark the third annual V3con Digital Media Conference, sponsored by the Los Angeles Chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association and hosted by the Japanese American National Museum.

If you’re unfamiliar with this event, well, “digital media conference” is self-explanatory, with “digital media” embracing blogging, YouTube-style digital video production as well as digital filmmaking, podcasting, digital photography, social media like Facebook and Twitter, and more.

The “V’s” in V3, meantime, stand for Vision, Visibility and Voice. While there’s nothing particularly Asian American in that, this event is very Asian American because the organizers and participants are mostly in this demographic. It’s also because V3’s roots, which aren’t that old, go back to something called Banana, a gathering of Asian American bloggers, circa 2009 and 2011.

That V3con is also Asian American because younger Asian Americans are reputed to be the most “plugged in” American demographic when it comes to adoption of all things digital.

It’s safe to say that digital media, while used in varying degrees by people ages mid-30s to the mid-50s, has become an inseparable part of quotidian life for people in their teens through their mid-30s. Even though I’m a dinosaur with this stuff, I’m a part of it, too, going back to the mid-1990s when I was one of the first journalists whose full-time job was as a website’s news editor.

Later, I made an award-winning documentary using all digital tools, from digital video cameras to editing it on a laptop, then mastering it onto DVD. I also produced a highly regarded movie review podcast titled “Projectionz.” Heck, I can even remember prompting this paper to get an AOL account so I could email my columns in (rather than having them get faxed in); I remember leaving floppy disks with columns on them at the old building on Los Angeles Street before work!

Months ago, when I wrote about journalist Edward Iwata’s e-book, he reminded me of how I used to distribute this column in the early ’90s electronically via email before AOL shut me down because they thought I was spamming people who actually requested it.

(I have to admit, though, that I’ve been bypassed by everyone else who has come along since then!)

Judith Hill (MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo)
Judith Hill (MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo)

While I didn’t attend either of the Banana Conferences, I was fortunate to attend the first and second V3 confabs. (Thank goodness the name was changed as it evolved!) Not only was there a name change, its sponsoring organization became the Los Angeles Chapter of the AAJA. V3cons 1 and 2 were not only very well-attended, they proved to be professionally run and quite interesting, thanks to the participation of the IW Group and with much credit going to AAJA member Jocelyn “Joz” Wang, who is V3con’s founder and executive director.

I chatted with Joz recently and she very generously filled me in on some of the back story and what events are lined up. Because of the AAJA’s participation, one unique aspect of V3con is how it has gone from a meeting of amateur and semi-professional bloggers and other members of “generation D,” and traditional print and broadcast journalists. While both camps still have separations, there is also crossover, cross-pollination and an inevitable blurring of lines.

From the sound of it, this year’s event looks like it will top the previous two. One thing different about this year is that Friday night and Saturday’s proceedings will all take place in Little Tokyo at JANM. “I think our partnership with JANM has gotten stronger,” Wang said. “For the first two years, we had the conference day at JANM, but the opening reception was at another venue. This year we’re bringing everything together under one roof, bringing the entire V3 experience to Little Tokyo and really making JANM our home.”

Joz noted that JANM will have its exhibits open for V3 — which takes place in the Central Hall — in the evening for attendees, something the museum doesn’t normally do. There’ll also be gift shop discounts for attendees and JANM members who attend can get a discounted rate at the door, even though remaining spots are limited.

From 6-9 p.m. Friday night, V3con will honor three individuals: food writer Jonathan Gold, singer Judith Hill and TV news personality Ann Curry.

Angelenos know Gold’s name for he is the former L.A. Weekly and now longtime, Pulitzer Prize-winning L.A. Times food writer who has done more than probably anyone to popularize Asian and Asian American cuisine, especially restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley. He’s getting the con’s Visibility award.

Ann Curry
Ann Curry (NBC)

While Judith Hill may not be a household name, she’s well-known among astute music fans. Not only did the singer of African American and Japanese descent appear as a contestant on NBC’s singing competition “The Voice” and in the documentary on backup singers titled “20 Feet From Stardom,” she enthralled the world, albeit for a minute, as a standout singer at services after Michael Jackson died. The L.A.-area native had already been chosen to be part of the tour he was preparing before his death. She’ll be getting the Voice prize.

Ann Curry, of course, spent years at NBC News, first as a full-time news reader, then as a co-host the network’s “The Today Show” until she was clumsily let go in a manner that left NBC, the show (and at least one among the on-air talent) with egg on their collective faces. She was also in the news recently for breaking an ankle while hiking with her family; Boy Scouts helped her with first aid and getting her out of the woods.

For me, I remember Curry when she was local to L.A. TV and was active at the same time I was with the local AAJA chapter, years before she made the “big time.” She was approachable and friendly, and that she reached the heights she did nationally with NBC News was totally understandable. So, this event will be Ann Curry’s homecoming when she receives the Visibility prize.

Beginning with breakfast at 8 a.m. Saturday until 9, after which will be welcome speeches and announcements, the day will have four two-hour-long workshops, 2 in the morning and two in the afternoon, separated by lunch (also part of the cost). There will also be several “Conversations” or panel discussions featuring a wide array of moderators and experts. (Go to for a lineup.)

At 5 p.m., there’ll be a 30-minute conversation between the aforementioned Jonathan Gold and L.A. Times editor Davan Maharaj, after which the event will wind down with announcements, door prizes and the closing.

As for registration rates, at this late date your best bet would be to register on site. The cost for Friday only is $50, Saturday only also $50 and $100 for the full event. JANM and AAJA members can ask for a discount.

Until next time, keep your eyes and ears open.

George Toshio Johnston has written this column since 1992 and can be reached at The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect policies of this newspaper or any organization or business. Copyright © 2014 by George T. Johnston. All rights reserved.


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