Out of the ashes, a rebirth: Letter from Kenji G. Taguma, Nichi Bei Times Vice President and English Edition Editor, Nichi Bei Foundation President

Today’s headline news may come as a shock to many, particularly given the relative success, popularity and visibility of the Nichi Bei Times, and particularly this groundbreaking Nichi Bei Times Weekly. What many of you may not see or understand is that we also have a thrice-weekly Japanese-language edition, too.

We have, probably, the most talented and enthusiastic staff that we have ever had — in both sections, English and Japanese — who continue to impress me on a daily basis.

I have been blessed with being charged to maintain a historical legacy that I feel is unsurpassed — from the Nichi Bei Shimbun founded in 1899 by legendary newspaperman Kyutaro Abiko, to the postwar Nichi Bei Times, whose main founder Shichinosuke Asano utilized our pages to raise awareness and funds for postwar relief to a war-devastated Japan.

Their legacy, and the work of countless other unknown soldiers along the way who committed themselves to community service, have fueled us each and every day.

Today’s news, a decision made by the board of directors and shareholders — most of whom are descendants of the original founders of the Nichi Bei — is a sad one indeed. Adding to this morose ending is the lack of community input into what could be done to save this storied legacy.

However, out of the ashes, we shall rise again.

To counter this move by the Nichi Bei Times board of directors, a group of community leaders, some Nichi Bei Times staff and contributors have been rapidly forming a new nonprofit entity — the Nichi Bei Foundation — whose main charge is to publish a community-serving newspaper in the same vein as our predecessors, seeking to keep the community connected, informed and empowered.

We will engage the community like never before, and have an energetic board of directors who are committed to a broad vision of community empowerment.
We hope that you, our cherished readers, will join us.

At this time, when community organizations are being hit hard by funding issues, and mainstream newspapers are cutting down on coverage of communities of color, the community may need us now more than ever.

In order for the new Nichi Bei Foundation and its nonprofit publication to work, however, it will take a lot of urgent help. Because of the late notification of the closing of the Nichi Bei Times, we are not able to obtain 501(c)3 status in time to attract large foundations. Thus, the new foundation will initially rely primarily — if not solely — upon private, individual donations.

So, the ball is in your court. If you feel as passionate about saving the Nichi Bei as we do, and for continuing a publication that speaks to community preservation as much as it speaks to community empowerment and historical documentation, then we hope you can contribute.

Brick by brick, we will build this foundation together.

For more information, please visit www.nichibeifoundation.org, e-mail me at kenji@nichibeifoundation.org, or write to Nichi Bei Foundation, P.O. Box 15693, San Francisco, CA 94115.

Look for a community forum in the coming days. As we wind down this chapter, we have invited former Nichi Bei Times staff and intern alumni to share their thoughts about “What Nichi Bei Meant to Me.” We invite you to do the same.

In closing, I would like to thank all of our dedicated staff and interns, past and present, who have made tremendous contributions to the Japanese American and Asian American mosaic, and who continue to serve as inspirations to me each and every day.

And mostly, thank you for being such a dedicated audience. Please join us as we enter the next phase, going boldly where no newspaper has gone before.

Sincerely,
Kenji G. Taguma
Nichi Bei Times Vice President and English Edition Editor
Nichi Bei Foundation President
August 20, 2009

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