Journalist Jonathan Choe, Emmy-nominated for the very work that got him fired from KOMO 4

SEATTLE, Wash., April 28, 2023—One year after Journalist Jonathan Choe was let go from KOMO 4 News for his controversial reporting, he’s now being nominated for four Emmy awards by the Northwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for the very work that got him fired. Choe was nominated for: Seattle’s Homeless Crisis, Seattle’s Unending Drug Crisis, Turco’s Last Stand, and Reporter – News Specialty Assignment.

On June 3, 2023, at the 60th Annual NW Emmy Gala, Choe will compete against some of the largest media outlets in the state including KGW, KIRO, KOMO, and KING in four different categories: Hard News Report, Continuing Coverage, Serious News Feature Category, and News Specialty Assignment. Although some of the work Choe did in these categories was during his time at KOMO, he will be mostly representing Discovery Institute Center, which offered Choe a media fellowship last year.

“Even if we don’t take home any hardware at the award ceremony, it’s still a massive and historic win because this is the first time Discovery’s competing against other newsrooms in Washington state,” said Choe. “This is proof our independent guerrilla journalism model works and matters to the community. This should also send a strong message to WA politicians who still try to discredit and dismiss my work. Not that I need validation, but the nominations were made by other industry peers across the nation. In other words, elected officials do not get to decide who’s a journalist and who’s not.”

Jonathan Choe has made a name for himself in Seattle’s independent “guerrilla” journalism scene for his aggressive reporting of Seattle’s drug and homeless crises. A reporter with over 20 years of experience, he claims his most recent employer, ABC television affiliate KOMO news of Seattle, fired him for covering a rally held in Olympia by the controversial Proud Boys group, in 2022.

As a proud Asian American who has labeled a White supremacist by local extremists, Choe defended his coverage in a blog post writing: “Let me start off by saying I am not a neo-Nazi, fascist, or white supremacist. Those are just some of the names I have been called over the past few days for my recent coverage of a protest in Olympia, WA. It was advertised as a ‘rally for America.’”

“I wasn’t taking sides. I wasn’t saying anything was good or bad. In fact, none of the marchers would talk to me on the record because they “didn’t trust the mainstream media.” So I just started following the march route. Aside from some middle fingers and heckling from those who opposed the rally, the day ended peacefully and without incident.” he continued.

According to Choe, the managers at KOMO 4 News weren’t even aware of his coverage, which was posted on his Twitter account and never made it on the station. It wasn’t until social media members began to “bombard the station” with phone calls demanding he was fired that the station requested he take down his social media post. He did so but was fired the next day, he said.

“At the end of the day, they had a brand to maintain and the stuff I was covering was controversial,” Jonathan Choe told the Lynnwood Times. “They have to sell ads and they were worried about the marketing and the advertising.”

The Lynnwood Times reached out to KOMO News for statement and will update once a response has been received.

For about a month, Choe said he was “cancelled” from most major news networks until Discovery Institute, a local Seattle think tank, reached out to him about a one-year media fellowship to join the Wealth and Poverty Team.

“I thought this is a really interesting time anyway, where the entire news industry is going through its own sort of ‘shake out’. You have veterans who are retiring, you have longtime, experienced reporters quitting the business to go into P.R. and I thought, there’s still such an important journalism in this town why don’t I try and innovate it and try it a different way,” said Choe. “It’s honestly been the best decision of my professional career.”

Choe, originally hailing from Boston, got his start in journalism with the intent to cover sports but by the time he graduated from Boston University in 2000 — with a B.A. in Journalism and Broadcast Journalism — he got the “buzz to do financial reporting.” His career took him to the Chicago area and Minnesota before landing a job as KOMO’s Crime and Justice Reporter in 2020.

While working in Chicago, Choe became interested in the nation’s homeless crises and gang-related violence, seeing both issues regularly. He attributes his time volunteering at a homeless shelter in Chicago as the time when he decided he wanted to dive into the homeless crises, a problem that he found to be “on steroids” after moving to Seattle in 2020, he said.

“I’ve always been intrigued by underreported stories and marginalized communities,” Choe said. “I feel like we’re going through a news revolution where social media is now the ultimate equalizer. It’s democratized everything and put the power back in the hands of the people, but in my case it empowered and emboldened journalism to really create new business models as well, so they don’t have to just do the corporate-mandated news but do stories that really matter to the community.”

Jonathan Choe told the Lynnwood Times his ultimate object, in his reporting, is a mix of holding elected officials accountable, championing for change, and reinventing the way journalism is conducted in order to sustain it.

When the Emmy nominations were announced, Choe was out on assignment in Austin, Texas. He was informed of his nominations, three with Discovery and one with his work at KOMO 4 for his continued coverage of the homeless crises, by his former colleagues in Seattle. He informed the Lynnwood Times he plans to attend the awards ceremony so long as he’s not covering a breaking news story.

“It would be great if we could win an award, or maybe even two, but just to say we were there competing with the best of the best is truly an honor,” said Choe.

Choe’s one-year fellowship with Discovery Institute is coming to a close this year but he informed the Lynnwood Times he has signed on for another year. He hopes to grow the program by expanding its newsroom with likeminded journalists who are willing to passionately chase the stories that matter.

Kienan Briscoe

Kienan Briscoe is a 9-time award winning journalist who has worked for a variety of publications including Pulitzer Prize-finalist Puget Sound Business Journal, Sound Publishing, Game Rant, and the University of Washington's newsroom. Before making the leap to news reporting he worked as a freelance writer in New York City. He holds a degree in Journalism from Arizona State University. Journalism, to him, is one of the most important tools for informing the public and holding governments accountable to the people. When he is not reporting he enjoys writing fiction and poetry (author of three novels), playing guitar, reading classic literature, and getting outdoors.

Kienan Briscoe has 434 posts and counting. See all posts by Kienan Briscoe

6 thoughts on “Journalist Jonathan Choe, Emmy-nominated for the very work that got him fired from KOMO 4

  • April 30, 2023 at 2:15 PM

    So we award grifters now?! Hey KOMO, your colors are showing!! Might be nice to actually report unbiased news once in a while. #SinclairPuppets

  • April 29, 2023 at 1:39 AM

    The headline is incorrect; Choe wasn’t “Emmy-nominated for the very work that got him fired from KOMO 4”. He was nominated for a regional Emmy for reporting on the homeless, but he was fired from KOMO for tweeting from a Proud Boys rally:

    “That’s a wrap: Proud Boys and other marchers say they will stay on the Capitol Campus in Olympia for a few more hours to mingle and answer questions if anyone is interested in learning more about their cause and mission. @komonews”.

    which, not suprisingly, many thought was inappropriately positive toward the Proud Boys.

    So it’s also not correct that he was “fired him for covering a rally held in Olympia by the controversial Proud Boys”. Nobody would have cared if he had just tweeted that the rally was going on, but the wording of the tweet sounded too glamorizing of them.

    • April 29, 2023 at 10:00 PM

      So honest observations get one fired! Considering all the lies and gaslighting from the MSM, not only about Covid, the vaccines, and J6, everyone should drop KOMO, et al, anyway. Alternative sources are more reliable.
      Turns out that the Proud Boys weren’t as evil as MSM portrayed,
      so fire the honest reporter. Somebody was right, the MSM is the enemy of the people.
      “Out of Shadows” Documentary

      • April 30, 2023 at 9:50 AM

        Lies about Covid? Vaccines worked, so did masks. So stop spreading misinformation.

        • April 30, 2023 at 11:51 AM

          Do you really think our government won’t or doesn’t lie to us? What turnip truck did you bounce out of? I’ve known several people who’ve gotten the vaccine and then got covid! I’m not saying that it doesn’t work at all, but it doesn’t work with everyone. There was not enough testing done on it before introducing it to the public. And if masks are so effective, then when a surgeon has a cold or the flu you’d be perfectly fine letting him operate on you wearing a mask even though he’s sick as a dog? You sir, need a reality check!

        • May 1, 2023 at 8:20 AM

          Masks as used by 98% of the people don’t work and never will. N95 properly fitted, never removed from face (shifting, etc) and worn for only four hours (one time use) probably works. But NO ONE did this. So simply masks don’t work. They were really designed in Medical settings to stop spread of bacteria.


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