In the artifacts of journalism, there are luminaries whose names resonate through the corridors of the media industry. In celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month, Chicago Asian Network had the honor to exclusively interview Judy Hsu who has been a pillar of news broadcast in ABC7 for 22 years. 

As we unravel her tale, there were five lessons that gleaned from her extraordinary life as a journalist–offering invaluable insight to anyone who aspires to be a voice of truth, accuracy, and objectivity.

Photo courtesy of Judy Hsu

#1: Treat change and diversity as opportunities to learn

Looking back, Judy feels her path into broadcast journalism was somewhat accidental, yet perhaps destined. 

Change and diversity were things she inherently acquired. Growing up in a diverse environment with her father's martial arts school, she naturally connected with different kinds of people. With this, even her initial struggles as an immigrant only made her more determined to master English. As TV was one of the best ways to learn a language, she always watched the first show airing after school: ABC7 news. Little did she know, this planted a seed of interest in her.

From this, her passion for storytelling sparked when she joined her high school newspaper. To further nurture her budding dream, she pursued journalism in University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign despite her parents’ concerns. Storms and strong rays did not waive her as she seized opportunities left and right,  leading her to navigate her career to California, then realizing her dream in Chicago.

From the start, Judy epitomizes the value of embracing chance and diversity, traits that attest her 22-year tenure as a respected news anchor at ABC7.

Photo courtesy of Judy Hsu

#2: Stay true to what and who journalism is for

Throughout the recent pandemic, Judy’s role as a news anchor exemplified the essence of journalism as a service to the community. In the face of uncertain times, she remained steadfast in delivering trusted information to viewers, driving into work daily during lockdowns. At these times when no one had all the answers, Judy remained true to what and who her job truly is for. “My job was to help our viewers make sense of something that seemed so hard to comprehend on so many days. It is that role that I find the most rewarding in my job, to be the steady, trusted, reliable and impartial voice, helping our viewers and making a difference.”  

Although at times grueling and heartbreaking, these stories underscored the importance of journalism in giving voice to human experiences and driving meaningful change. For Judy, the pandemic reaffirmed that journalism is a vital service, no matter the circumstances.

Photo courtesy of Judy Hsu

#3: Practice firm journalistic values at all times

Judy and her team at ABC7 prioritize unwavering journalistic values, especially when covering sensitive topics. They meticulously fact-check all stories, adhering to the timeless principles of truth, accuracy, and objectivity. 

The station's long standing reputation as Chicago's top news source is attributed to their commitment to journalistic integrity. With seasoned journalists bringing their experience and community knowledge to the table, the newsroom operates as a cohesive unit, encompassing various roles from producers to photojournalists. When asked where she fits into the puzzle, Judy humbly added, “At the end of the day, it is my job as the anchor of a newscast to bring all of that diligent work together and deliver it to our viewers with authenticity, care, and sensibility,”

For her, this is how they are able to build such a deep connection with their viewers: by understanding that Chicago has a hard working and community-caring population, it is important that the news also reflects that. 

Photo courtesy of Judy Hsu

#4: Choose credible news over captivating noise always

Technology has a transformative impact on news consumption and reporting. Technological advancements have made news more accessible and convenient for viewers, who can now stream reports anytime, anywhere.

Despite rapid changes, Judy advises aspiring journalists to uphold the core tenets of truth, accuracy, and objectivity. “Build a foundation of your skills based on those principles, and always remember being a good storyteller starts with being a good listener. Listen, never with judgment, but always with infinite curiosity.”

When asked about her thoughts on the increasing prevalence of fake news and misinformation, Judy believes that there is still hope. “The noisier the world gets, the more people return to the news source that they trust. I see it with my own kids,” she explains. Reflecting on her children's evolving news consumption habits, Judy finds optimism in their inclination towards trusted news outlets over online sensationalism. “Instead of relying on social media posts and videos from any source, my college age kids are now finding themselves searching out actual news stories and clipping from ABC7 or a long-standing national news outlet.”

Photo courtesy of Judy Hsu

#5: Remember to ground yourself and to always celebrate your wins!

Delivering heartbreakingly heavy news is not new for Judy, The emotional toll of covering tragic events can make even the most uptight professional crumble. During these times, she shares her coping mechanism was to decompress during her drive home, allowing herself time to grieve and appreciate life's simple joys.

During happy days, Judy cherishes the memorable experiences, particularly her one-on-one interview with President Barack Obama at the White House. This moment was especially poignant for her. “For a quick second while I was standing on the White House lawn, the image of a young immigrant girl, who had just moved to Chicago with her family when she was 11, flashed before me,” she shared.

Through it all, Judy emphasizes the importance of grounding oneself amidst adversity and celebrating professional milestones with gratitude.

Photo courtesy of Judy Hsu

While school can teach us how to write and present news, it is only seasoned journalists like Judy Hsu who can impart advice primed from their accumulated wisdom over the years.

We hope that these five lessons derived from her own life story can become steppingstones for aspiring journalists to prepare them for what is ahead. For our casual readers, may this give light and recognition to the sacrifices and efforts that journalists make in ensuring that you are never hidden in the dark and that the truth always reaches you.

May 22, 2024

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