From Sports to Breaking News, the Unlikely Candidate

Close your eyes and picture a little boy born on a refugee camp Thailand from two parents that survived the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia.

Odds are that you probably did not picture ChRTDfnka4hun Sun, the public safety reporter at the Colorado Springs Gazette.

After leaving the refugee camp, Sun and his parents moved to America when he was just       5-years-old.

After graduating high school in California, Sun went to Modesto Junior College and later transferred to Fresno State University where he received his bachelors in journalism.

Post grad, Sun began working at the Salt Lake Tribune where he covered their sports section. Sun and a team of 15 reporters covered the high schools and colleges throughout Utah which is where he began expanding his journalistic abilities opposed to just being a writer.

When journalism started being mostly online opposed to print, Sun resisted until he had no choice.

“I was forced to podcast in Utah once I turned to covering high school sports fully. I wasn’t the best at it, but I knew that our industry was taking a turn so I started a blog with videos. I enjoyed it, it was like two different stories–one for print and one for the blog.” -Chhun Sun

In his two years at the Salt Lake Tribune, Sun made a huge impact on the community as well as his colleagues with something as simple as his demographic background.

IRAQ7.jpg“One of the major things that Chhun offered was to show people in Utah that somebody that is so different from them can have the ability to have so much in common with them. Beyond that, I think that he was brave for taking on the challenge and woking in Salt Lake City where he would walk in these lily-white high schools and cover the sports for the whole state.” -Matt LaPlante

According to the 2014 US census, Utah’s population is only 2.4% Asian, so Sun was an unlikely face amongst the citizens of Utah.

After two years in Salt Lake, Sun felt homesick and decided to look for work back in his adopted home state, California. The Turlock Journal later hired him as their education reporter, but of course he transitioned back to what he knew best–sports. He worked at the Turlock Journal for just over three years until he became the sports reporter at The Tribune for 10 months.

In September of 2012, Sun decided that it was time to take a break from being a journalist and fulfill a life-log dram of joining the Peace Corps. “The six-years that I served as a sports journalist had been a great experience, but I felt that the time had come for another adventure, another opportunity, so that’s why I decided to go to Azerbaijan.” Sun said.

Azerbaijan is located in Sun’s home continent, Asia, so it “just made sense” for him to be there.

Throughout his time in Azerbaijan, Sun taught English in a small village. Beyond teaching the Azerbaijan people English, he introduced them to classic American sports like Ultimate Frisbee.

Throughout his stay, he lived with a host family where he was able to become very familiar with both their country and language. Though he left to the Peace Corps as a way out of journalism, his heart still found its way back to his writing passion. For that reason, he kept a personal blog that documented his time in the Peace Corps daily.

Sun left the Peace Corps a little early after being offered a reporting job at The Khmer Times in Cambodia where his parents once lived during the Khmer Rouge. It was in Cambodia that Sun really made a journalistic transition from being a sports reporter to public affairs. Here he covered breaking news stories, as well as assisting with the news papers editing.

Just 2 short months of working in Cambodia, Sun became homesick yet again, and decided it was time to move back home with his parents until he found another journalism job.

In April 2014, four months after arriving at his parents house, Sun was offered a job at The Colorado Springs Gazette as the Public Safety Reporter, or as Sun likes to call himself, “the breaking news guy”.

Today, Sun reports on anything from helping the Colorado Springs community bust credit card thieves, to the Planned Parenthood Shootings that occurred in Colorado Springs late last year.

Sun feels that one of the most memorable public affairs stories that he has worked on was breaking the news to the Colorado Springs community that four DUI’s could result in a felony charge and prison time.

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157As the breaking news guy, Sun has to be prepared to go out to different scenes at anytime of the day which can be a pretty demanding schedule, but his colleagues feel like nobody could do the job better. Dalton Walker, at The Gazette said Mr. Sun is, “One of the best story tellers I have ever read. All you have to do is give him a little time and leeway and he’ll make magic.” Walker went on to say that he would consider Sun a “peoples person that’s so easy to talk to because he’s so relatable in all aspects of life and he realizes that everybody has a story within them.”

Chhun Sun is a perfect example of why it is important to be open to covering any story to the public, rather than branding yourself to one specific beat. Of course it’s important to know your strongest points, but it’s best to be versatile. Who knows, one day you might be a sports reporter, and the next thing you know, you’re the “breaking news guy”.

 

If you would like to read about Chhun Sun’s journey through the Peace Corps, click here.

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