Mar. 29, 2008

Lights, camera, action!

Asian American news reporters make a big splash in the Pacific Northwest

By Evangeline Cafe
Northwest Asian Weekly

You may have noticed some new faces gracing the screens of local television news. Several Asian American journalists are making quite a name for themselves in the Seattle area, after taking on stints across the nation. We’ve profiled three of these local starlets so you can get to know them a little better.

Monique Ming Laven, KIRO 7

Monique Ming Laven grew up in Sacramento, Calif. and is thrilled to be back on the West Coast. She joined KIRO 7 in June of 2006 after working as an anchor and reporter at stations across the Midwest. During her tenure in Ohio and Wisconsin, she covered everything from local beats, to the 2004 presidential election, to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

As a journalist, Laven strives to be a voice for the communities in which she works.

“To give our audience information that’s important and relevant to their lives, and to help them understand the people in their communities … that’s why I work in news,” she said.

Laven’s passion for journalism has taken her on some awe-inspiring adventures. She once biked nearly 600 miles from Minneapolis to Chicago while covering the Heartland AIDS Ride and even journeyed to Nicaragua to accompany a Wisconsin-based medical mission.

Laven’s hard work has earned her numerous honors, including the Edward R. Murrow Award for Best News Series and the Associated Press Award for Best Documentary. She has won awards for her sports reporting, features and spot news.

The multitalented journalist graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California Berkeley. She is native to the Golden State but has always had ties to the Northwest. Her Chinese American grandmother spent her teenage years in Seattle, and Laven currently has a great uncle and cousins living in the region.

Laven said she is happy to call Seattle her new home.

Jeff Nguyen, KIRO 7

Jeff Nguyen boasts years of experience in front of the camera and behind the scenes. He joined the KIRO 7 team after reporting for a CBS affiliate on the central California Coast.

Prior to that, Nguyen worked as field reporter for FOX News Channel. He traveled into the danger zones to cover Hurricanes Ivan and Francis in Florida and helped provide in-depth coverage of the devastation following the deadly Southwest Asia tsunami in 2004.

Nguyen used his skills to cover not only news and natural disasters, but also Hollywood starlets. As a field producer for the NBC show "Access Hollywood,” he got to get up-close-and-personal with celebrities on the red carpet.

Nguyen grew up in Southern California and began his journalism career as a news writer at UCLA, where he obtained a political science degree.

His talents have earned him an Associated Press Award for Investigative Reporting and two Emmy nominations in the Los Angeles market.

Robert Santos, KOMO 4

Born and raised on the island of Guam, Robert Santos is happy to once again live and work where land mingles with water.

Santos joined KOMO 4 in February and currently works as a weekend weathercaster and environmental reporter.

Santos knew early on in his childhood that he wanted to work in television. He recalled the intrigue he felt watching the cable news streaming in from Los Angeles. He said it was the power to reach the masses that inspired him to enter the world of broadcasting.

“My calling, so to speak, is to tell stories of people who are often not heard,” Santos said.

“It was a great way to educate and inspire.”

Santos’ career got off to an early start. He landed a news job straight out of high school, and then moved to the mainland to obtain a degree from Pepperdine University. His career soared from there, taking him to stations across Southern California and Las Vegas.

Santos says growing up on an island where violent typhoons were a normal part of life helped cultivate his fascination for Mother Nature.

When he accepted a weekend weather anchor and reporter position at a WB station in San Diego, Santos found his niche.

His recent move north to the Pacific Northwest has only invigorated Santos’ love for the elements.

“Seattle is just beautiful. It’s a different kind of beauty. … I love the trees, I love that there’s water; it’s all around you.”

Santos says he is humbled to be one of the few Chamorro or Asian Pacific Islander men working in television news and to be serving as a voice for the masses.

“It’s an honor. … I’m basically someone who tells the story of all people,” said Santos.

Northwest Asian Weekly staff contributed to this report.

Evangeline Cafe can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

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