Lou Saldivar, Pulitzer Prize-winning Graphics Editor
It’s with immense pleasure that I recommend Rika as a visual journalist and information graphics designer.
In her years with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Rika demonstrated all the skills qualities that produce compelling, thoughtful work and make her a strong individual and team member. I admired her sense of responsibility and the skillful way she approached assignments. She handled the big and small tasks with the same amount attention to detail. I often assigned Rika the more technically challenging stories because of her ability to parse and validate details. When she had questions, she pursued answers with a level of inquiry equal to visual journalists with more years of experience than her. I also like that Rika exercised sound judgment.
Visual journalists will often have an abundance of information. A common challenge is to craft a storyline that is fulfilling without being overwhelming. Rika is very good at separating the important from the less relevant. I could always rely on her content selection to support or enhance that of the reporters’ story. Though excellent with content, Rika showed decision-making skills in other areas as well.
Rika’s biggest strides were in design and layout. The same sense of hierarchy that shapes content also has to carry over to the design. During her years with us, Rika became very good at crafting compelling designs. Her work was often featured in full-page presentations or as part of larger newsroom projects. Her sophistication grew with nearly every assignment.
Rika’s has experience in the analytical and creative aspects of journalism. She is also very tech-savvy. I’ve seen her absorb new applications at an impressive rate and I’m convinced she is capable of learning nearly anything. And, if that weren’t enough, she will brighten your day.
Any organization would be benefit greatly to have Rika’s skills and enthusiasm.
Kay Nolan, Political News/Business Reporter/Editor
I highly recommend Rika Kanaoka as a graphic designer for anyone looking for an ideal combination of technical skills and creativity.
Rika also brings a curiosity, intelligence and ability to understand varied subjects, which gives her the ability to make graphics especially compelling. She is able to zero in on the most effective use of images and copy. Her graphics capture the idea being expressed in a way that is accurate, easy to follow and exciting to view.
Rika created graphics for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a Pulitzer-winning daily newspaper that has been a leader in providing a multimedia approach to news and features. As a copy editor and reporter at that newspaper, I observed Rika deftly bring stories to life with creative graphics that brought attention to the stories and helped readers understand the topic. Rika tackled even the most complex topics having to do with everything from science to geography to business or crime statistics. She researched each topic and interviewed sources as needed, designing graphics and writing concise copy to accompany the images. She double-checked facts and maintained high technical standards for all of her graphics, even though she was often required to work on tight deadlines.
Rika did all of this work in English, but the experience she brought to the job as someone born and raised in Japan and who has lived and worked in several major cities in the United States, helped bring a fresh and sophisticated perspective. Her ability to speak several languages is an indication of Rika’s high intelligence and ability to learn quickly. Her ease in adapting to life and work in various cities demonstrates her positive attitude and superb social skills. Rika brings a youthful enthusiasm to her work, but at the same time seems mature and experienced beyond her years. She gets along well with everyone and fits well in any team. She is also able to work independently.
In addition to graphic design, Rika is accomplished in web design, online marketing and search optimization skills. Rika has successfully created websites with a sophistication that one might expect from someone with advanced IT schooling and years of experience in web design. Rika is the type of person who learns a skill, then finds a way to enhance it by trying new and more challenging steps.
She will surely exceed your expectations as a designer for either print or online products.
Rika was one of the launching members of CNN’s Japanese interactive team in 2000. I worked with her at CNN headquarters in Atlanta during the summer, and we produced content for its Japanese edition (http://www.cnn.co.jp).
I thoroughly enjoyed working with her for a number of reasons. First of all, she has a genuine passion for journalism and communications. As a student at the prestigious University of Missouri School of Journalism, she had the highest caliber of standards of writing, editing and design. Second, Rika was so creative and willing to take new assignments such as graphics, videos and other items at the dawn of the Internet age, and did very well and efficiently. Best of all, she is very personable, emotionally stable, responsible and kind, so it was just so much fun to work in the same team with her.