Story Slam 2019

The Story Slam 2018 finalists, judges, host and coach

The Story Slam 2018 finalists, judges, host and coach


Congratulations to our winners this year:

  • First place: Mark Zastrow

  • Second place: Kaitlyn Cheung

  • Third place: Grace Lee

Watch their stories now on the AAJA YouTube channel!

As journalists, we bring to life every imaginable kind of story from the world around us. But we’re rarely given a forum to share tales from our own lives.

We’re proud to bring back AAJA Story Slam for its third year at #AAJA19 Atlanta! Through Story Slam, we’ll turn the storytelling skills on ourselves and highlight the most compelling personal stories from the Asian American and Pacific Islander journalist community.

The conference theme in 2019 is “Unite & Represent.” For the first round, participants will record videos of themselves telling a story that fits with the theme, and a panel of judges will select finalists from the video submissions.

The top storytellers will compete for cash prizes in an exciting live event on Friday, August 2 onsite at CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

  • First place winner: $1,000

  • Second place winner: $500

  • Third place winner: $250


2019 Finalists



Video Producer, USA TODAY

Story: “Mama Nene”



Recent graduate, University of Hong Kong

Story: “To All the Roommates I've Had Before”


Freelance Journalist & Photographer

Story: “Say My Name”



Reporter/Producer, Reuters Digital

Story: “My Voice”

mark zastrow.jpg


Science Writer

Story: “My Birthmother’s Choice”.

Who is eligible

All AAJA members with a story to tell are encouraged to participate but your 2019 AAJA membership must be active before submitting an entry. There is no additional entry fee. Previous finalists are unable to qualify as finalists in future Story Slams but are still encouraged to participate.

What sort of stories?

Stories should:

  • Be personal and true

  • Reflect an AAPI experience or an experience relating to the AAPI community

  • Relate to the #AAJA19 theme: “Unite & Represent”

We’re looking for stories that are about something that happened to you, that you observed or learned, or happened to someone else but affected you. They should be stories that move us — that will make us laugh, cry, challenge assumptions, share the relatable, or think differently about something we thought we knew. Participants who move into the final round will have access to a SAG-AFTRA sponsored speech coach to assist on the performance and presentation.

Stories should be six minutes or less. They will be broadly judged on the following questions: Is it a good story? Can the story capture attention? How effectively does the storyteller deliver it?

Videos can be recorded and uploaded using the medium of the participants’ choice.


  • June 21, 2019 (by 11:59pm PT): Video submissions due to

  • July 5, 2019: Finalists notified.

  • Friday, August 2, 2019, 6:30pm: AAJA Story Slam will take place at the AAJA National Convention in Atlanta. A three-judge panel will select winners at the live event.

    Event details:

    CNN World Headquarters
    One CNN Center, Atlanta GA 30303

    Transportation provided from Loews Hotel

The contest organizers reserve the right to adjust the judging process, timeline and prizes.

2018 Finalists

  • K. Oanh Ha - First place

  • Sally Ho - Second place

  • Rebecca Isjwara - Third place

  • Sophia Wu - Finalist

For more information, please see our YouTube playlist of the stories from 2017 and 2018.

Presented by SAG-AFTRA, and hosted by CNN.

Questions? Contact