Muranaka Tapped to Lead Rafu as Senior Editor

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Gwen Muranaka is now senior editor of The Rafu Shimpo in a move that for the first time combines the Japanese and English language sections at the nation’s largest bilingual Japanese American daily newspaper.

Gwen Muranaka (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

“During her 16-year association with The Rafu, she has consistently demonstrated outstanding leadership and journalistic skills,” noted interim chief operating officer Ellen Endo. “We are delighted that she has agreed to take on these new responsibilities.”

In addition to her experience as English section editor-in-chief, Muranaka’s background includes three years as staff editor for The Japan Times in Tokyo and four years with the Japanese American Citizens League’s publication, Pacific Citizen.

The senior editor position was created in August 2017 and coincides with structural changes instituted by Endo and special consultant Mark Nakakihara. The two came aboard following the newspaper’s announcement in March 2016 that The Rafu would cease publication unless its financial situation improved.

“I am humbled and honored to lead The Rafu Shimpo editorial division as it undergoes a transformation from two newspapers operating under one name, to one publication united by the common cause of serving the Japanese and Japanese American communities,” said Muranaka. “We at The Rafu recognize its ongoing critical mission to provide news and information on issues impacting our community.

“As it marks its 115th anniversary, The Rafu finds itself at a critical juncture. I am hopeful that with the support of the community, the newspaper will continue its transformation into a publication that will better serve today’s community and future generations of Japanese and Japanese Americans.”

The Rafu Shimpo was founded in 1903 as a Japanese-language publication to serve Los Angeles’ emerging immigrant population. Except for an occasional English-language article, the newspaper existed as a Japanese-only publication until 1926, when the English section debuted under Louise Suski, the paper’s first female editor

“It is important that the newspaper evolves with the changing landscape in disseminating news,” said publisher Michael Komai. “Ms. Muranaka represents a blending of journalism and digital presentation.”

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