Remembering a Legendary High School Journalism Teacher

J.K. Yamamoto, a reporter with L.A. Japanese newspaper Rafu Shimpo, shares a long and wonderful obit for Ted Tajima (pictured), an 88-year-old retired journalism teacher who passed away last month.

Tajima made all sorts of epic contributions to the Southern California journalism landscape, but one of his most impressive feats while at Alhambra High School was guiding student newspaper The Moor to All-Amerian honors from the National Scholastic Press Association every single year from 1957 until his retirement in 1983. Recalls L.A. Times staff writer (and one-time Tajima protégé) Elaine Woo:

“It’s sad that he could not become a reporter or editor for a mainstream newspaper. He finished college right after World War II and anti-Japanese sentiment was a huge barrier. I never heard him express bitterness about this, although I’m sure he felt it.”

“At the same time, I’m grateful he became a teacher because without his encouragement, I would not have gone into journalism, a very non-traditional field for Asian Americans in the 1970s when I was his student.”

There’s also an amazing story from CBS newsman Joe Saltzman, about how Tajima helped him get into USC journalism school in a fashion worthy of an inspirational Hollywood movie. Fabulous life, fabulous piece.

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.