By Ruth Bayang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Twenty months ago, I got a phone call. I picked up and I heard a woman’s voice. “This is Assunta Ng.”
My jaw dropped. Up until then, I knew Assunta by reputation only. And she was calling me. THE Assunta Ng. Not an assistant or receptionist, but Assunta Ng herself.
I had applied for the editor position at the Northwest Asian Weekly. I had sent an email and my resume days before and thought nothing of it. I certainly never expected to get a phone call from THE Assunta Ng.
I have been a journalist for 23 years, 17 of those in the Seattle market — most of it in the broadcast arena.
Though it was a different medium, everybody knew of Assunta. If you didn’t, you were either new to town, you lived under a rock, or you didn’t take journalism seriously.
Assunta is a legend in journalist circles.
She asked if I could come in for an interview that week. I said yes, and we arranged a time. I was very nervous about meeting this local legend. My first impression of her was that she was a no-nonsense person. She gets right to the point and some could perceive her as being blunt. I liked it. I also recognized that she had a very strong personality and I knew instantly that I would either love working with her, or hate it. There would be no middle ground.
At that interview, Assunta assigned me to write an article. I was to interview Jane Chu, the head of the National Endowment for the Arts, that afternoon. Talk about a trial by fire! I accepted the challenge, not revealing to Assunta that I was accustomed to broadcast deadlines of only minutes. She gave me a four-day deadline. Unlike broadcast, I had to write a much longer story than I was used to. Seven-hundred words versus a story an anchor could read in 20 seconds (50-60 words?).
I assume I passed the test since she offered me the job. We agreed that we would give it a one-month trial period. Assunta had experienced a recent high turnover of editors (which I found out about much later), and I wasn’t sure if I would butt heads with her.
Nearly two years later, I’m still here. We occasionally butt heads and I let her win since she’s the boss. She even made me change the original headline (“In awe of Assunta”) of this commentary because she didn’t want her name so prominently displayed. On a serious note, she does listen to my viewpoints and whether or not she takes the course of action I recommend, I feel like she respects me.
I, in turn, get great satisfaction in helping Assunta live out her dream, one week at a time, and being a small part of the Northwest Asian Weekly’s 35-year history.
Ruth can be reached at email@example.com.