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San Francisco Ethnic Media Prepare for Digital Transition

New America Media, News Report, Suzanne Manneh Posted: Dec 21, 2008

Editor's Note: Briefings for ethnic media on the transition to digital television and its impact on their communities were organized by New America Media as part of a campaign funded by the Leadership Council for Civil Rights. The following is a report by NAM writer Suzanne Manneh on the first briefing, held in San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO -- On Dec. 19, 2008, New America Media, in partnership with the Leadership Council on Civil Rights Education Fund, hosted the first ethnic media brainstorming session of a seven-city campaign on the transition to digital television conversion. The session, held at NAMs headquarters in San Francisco, aimed to increase the ethnic medias involvement in the campaign and empower ethnic and underserved communities who are not aware of the resources available to help them, such as federal coupons that can offset the cost of a digital converter box.
San FranciscoEthnic media representatives in San Francisco discuss the need to
educate their communities about the DTV campaign.
Photo by Dana Levine / New America Media

The convening opened with a welcome to the four panelists and nine ethnic media attendees from NAM Executive Director Sandy Close, who facilitated the discussion.

Philip Tuong Duy Ngyuen from the Southeast Asian Community Center explained the importance of participating in the campaign for many newer Southeast immigrants to the United States, such as Cambodians and Laotians, who need to be empowered with resources and financial assistance. Anni Chung of Self Help for the Elderly, addressed the lack of assistance available for countless elders who do not know how to install digital converter boxes. She said that as a result of the efforts of organizations like hers, many elders will not be in the dark on Feb. 17, 2009.

Kenneth Maxey, the local campaign coordinator, outlined his plan to maximize community outreach and educate ethnic communities about the campaign, available resources, and assistance centers opening up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Among other strategies, the campaign plans to have a presence at upcoming citywide cultural events. Finally, Tracy Rosenberg of Media Alliance emphasized that as an assistance center partner, she would help to serve the diverse communities in her area.

Erica Swanson and Mistique Cano of the Leadership Council on Civil Rights Education Fund also participated via conference call and framed the campaign as a civil rights issue something that resonated with all of the attendees.
San Francisco 2Philip Tuong Duy Ngyuen, Anni Chung, Kenneth Maxey, Tracy Rosenberg
brainstorm with the ethnic media participants.
Photo by Suzanne Manneh / New America Media

While the San Francisco brainstorming session served as the pilot campaign meeting, it also underscored the need to host a collaborative ethnic media roundtable in all of the seven cities. Most of the media, with the exception of the television stations Univision and KTSF, representing Latino and Pan-Asian communities respectively, said they hadn't taken the issue seriously until the meeting.

Attendees were especially moved by examples of elderly residents who have had various difficulties getting a converter box for their television. One housing facility that is home to more than 200 elderly people only qualifies for two coupons because the residents share the same address. Some elderly residents have misplaced their coupons, only to realize after finding them that they have expired. Others have converter boxes but will be left with a snowy screen because they do not know how to install them.

Following the discussion, ethnic media met with panelists for one-on-one interviews. All of the ethnic media representatives said they had learned much more about the campaign and the importance of energizing their communities to learn more and obtain resources. Every print and radio representative in attendance pledged their commitment to start writing or airing stories on the issue immediately.

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