Editor’s note: ESPN is represented at the Asian-American Journalists Association Convention in New York City this week. ESPN employees are participating in seminars, speaking on panels and recruiting potential new hires. Lem Lopez, who joined ESPN in 2011, is a Director for ESPN International, managing the network’s English language global web properties (ESPNFC.com, ESPNCricInfo.com, ESPNScrum.com and ESPNF1.com) and overseeing digital media productions. The former MTV executive shares his perspective on attending the AAJA Convention with Front Row.
NEW YORK — In the mid-to-late 1970’s, my late father, Filemon P. Lopez, M.D., a foreign medical school graduate and immigrant from the Philippines, founded the Asian American Medical Association in addition to the Philippine Professionals Association.
I remember him taking great pride in organizing monthly meetings with his Asian professional colleagues and countrymen and serving his community in rural Midwest Indiana. Dad was elected as their founding president. Why do I share this?
As a first-gen Filipino, I noticed that my parents spoke a different language than the parents of my neighbors and classmates; we cooked and ate delightfully different foods than my neighbors and friends. We looked different. I was a young, rebellious Asian grade school boy who just wanted to fit in.
As I grew older, I can remember embracing my ethnicity — yet I still struggled as a minority amongst my friends. I took great pride in my “Asian-ness,” yet I rarely, if at all, saw my “type” represented on television and media throughout my high school and then into college days.
When I landed my first media/TV job in New York City, I knew I wanted to make a difference — very much like what my immigrant father did with his medical and professional crew of Asian professionals a generation before.
Attending the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) Convention for the first time in my professional career is an amazing and full-circle experience. There are more than 1,300 in attendance at the Hilton New York in mid-town Manhattan this week.
My ESPN colleagues Al Jaffe, head of Talent and Negotiations, veteran SportsCenter anchor Michael Kim and newly hired Cary Chow are all speakers at this year’s event.
I am filled with a sense of pride that comes from within simply because of my very fortunate and innate background — Asian ethnicity, American nationality. I am here this week proudly representing my company and, most proudly, representing my fellow Asian brothers and sisters.
I have been given many opportunities in my professional career, which is why I intend to help anyone who has the drive, the skills, the passion and the smarts to pursue a career in media, news and entertainment.
By Lem Lopez
ICYMI: Highlights from the past week on Front Row
• ESPN announced on Monday that it is expanding its NFL Nation network by creating sites for all 32 NFL teams. The collection of team sites will be staffed by industry-leading reporters in every NFL city.
• On Wednesday in Bristol, Conn., some 40 traditional and new-media journalists visited the ESPN campus for a media day featuring panels discussing college football, the NFL and SportsCenter in addition to a lunch with ESPN President John Skipper. Here is a recap of the event.
• SportsCenter anchor Lindsay Czarniak discusses her favorite aspects of Twitter and more in this I Follow.
• Last Saturday, ESPN’s Jon Gruden celebrated his 50th birthday. During halftime of Monday Night Football’s Pittsburgh-Washington game, booth partner, Mike Tirico, presented him with a jumbo sized AARP card to commemorate the occasion.
Row of Four
Our favorites from across ESPN over the past week
• From OTL: The Losses of Dan Gable
• From Rick Reilly: Golden Gophers football coach Jerry Kill turned his public seizure into a teaching moment
• From ESPN The Mag: Derrick Mason’s NFL retirement just about finding a way to fill his days
• Enjoy an array of photos from ESPN Images