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International Daily News: Connecting Chinese Communities Worldwide

NCM Profile

NCM, Astrid Martinez Posted: May 14, 2003

For over 22 years International Daily News has delivered news from overseas and from four U.S. bureaus to produce “free speech” editorials to the Chinese community worldwide.

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Elaine Shen, International Daily News San Francisco Bureau Chief

According to San Francisco Bureau Chief Elaine Shen, International Daily News prides itself on being independent of the Chinese government.

“Some publications receive news and money from the Chinese government,” says Shen. “Our newspaper is independent-- we only tell the truth, nothing else.”

Owned by Jessica Elinihaita, it was founded to serve as a voice for the Chinese community and a symbol of Chinese strength. In 1981 the publication became the first full-color Chinese newspaper to be distributed in the United States. Printed in traditional Chinese, the newspaper caters to the Mandarin community around the world.

Today the publication has a daily circulation of more than 90,000, with reporters in major Chinese communities in the United States and around the world. It draws news from its bureaus in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Mainland China and from its U.S. editions in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston and New York in order to keep readers connected to their homeland and their local communities.

The current focus of the publication’s international and domestic news is SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). According to Shen, the newspaper attempts to provide readers with accurate information in order to combat panic and fear of the disease.

“ Locally, in San Francisco’s Chinatown, store owners have placed signs in their windows saying: if you just came back from Asia, don’t eat at our restaurant,” Shen says. “We try to encourage people not to be scared and for those who need treatment, we offer advice.”

But SARS is only one of many topics dominating the newspaper’s headlines. The newly elected President of the People’s Republic of China Hu Jintao has swept optimism into the country.

“ People are watching him and they are looking for new opportunities,” Shen says. “They want a stronger economy and citizens want more participation politically.”

International Daily News’ financial section reports on the domestic economy, a key concern of the Chinese community in the U.S. According to Shen, the growing unemployment rate in the United States has had a profound impact on Chinese families.

“ A lot of our readers are from Mainland China and came to the United States as engineers and other high-tech jobs,” Shen says. “Many immigrants cannot find jobs now. They brought their families and now some must return to China and lose everything they have here.”

Reporters are also tracking the relationship between job losses and violence in Chinese communities, such as the recent investigations of homicide in two Chinese families in Santa Clara county.

“ One wife reportedly killed her husband. They were both unemployed,” said Shen. “And in another family the unemployed husband killed his wife and children before committing suicide.”

International Daily News has an online component www.chinesetoday.com where interested readers can find news from all editions as well as archived editorials. One feature not available in the paper is the “Love Bridge” for singles. Hundreds of people around the world are connecting with their ads on the website.

Chinese communities in different countries can also connect and express their political opinions in the publication’s weekly opinion page. Recently many editorials have focused on the war in Iraq and the role the U.S. should play in the world. According to Shen the general sentiment of the Chinese community was against the war, although they tend to be less vocal than other groups.

“ Many in the local community won’t go out to protest, but they feel the U.S. should mind its own business,” says Shen. “A lot of people feel that the US should concentrate on its own problems such as the lack of jobs and the economy.”
To continue to succeed for 20 more years, Shen says the International Daily News must continue to include everyday people’s opinions and to give a political voice to Chinese communities worldwide.


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