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Ethnic Media Convene to Talk Racism After AsianWeek Fiasco

New America Media, News Report, Eugenia Chien Posted: Mar 02, 2007

Editor's Note: Members of the ethnic media convened to talk about how to improve coverage of race relations after the uproar over the AsianWeek column, "Why I Hate Blacks."

(9m 02s, mp3, 8.6MB) Download File

SAN FRANCISCO -- Members of the ethnic media in San Francisco convened today to discuss how to improve coverage of race relations in the wake of the uproar over the AsianWeek column, Why I Hate Blacks.

We know that racial and ethnic hatred exist, but the role of the ethnic media is to not to promote them as the AsianWeek story did, but to analyze them, contextualize them, and to find ways to help audiences to go beyond them, said Sandy Close, executive director of New America Media, which organized the event with the Chinese American Citizens Alliance and the Chinese American Voter Education Committee.

Ted Fang, editor-at-large of AsianWeek, and brother of James Fang, publisher of the magazine, apologized for his papers decision to publish the column. Fang said that the decision to publish the column was an unacceptable breakdown in the editorial process. The newspaper said it has terminated its relationship with the columns author, Kenneth Eng of New York and that the editorial process at the free weekly is under review.

Panelists from Chinese, Korean, Filipino, African American, and youth media commented on the ethnic medias role in covering race relations.

There are deep feelings of tension among ethnic groups that we havent addressed, said Joyce Chen, an editor at the Chinese-language Sing Tao Daily. We need to put everything on the table.

Panelists discussed journalistic responsibilities and education efforts for improving race relations. Several panelists acknowledged that the educational system and the media have not done enough to raise awareness of civil rights and shared cultural history.

Lets deal with institutional racism, not individual racism, said Chauncey Bailey of OUR-TV.

Lets get real about what we need to do in this country: we need to understand each other, said Willie Ratcliff, editor of the San Francisco Bay View.

Chen of the Sing Tao said that the views in the AsianWeek column do not represent the sentiments of the Asian community.

We have benefited from the civil rights movement led by African Americans, said Kaiping Liu, deputy city editor of the Chinese-language World Journal. What Kenneth Eng wrote is unacceptable in any situation, he said.

This is a terrible affront to Asians who dont hold these views, said Jon Funabiki, professor of journalism at the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism at San Francisco State University.

Panelists and the 60 plus attendees at the meeting made suggestions ranging from hosting essay contests posing a question related to the column, to ensuring the inclusion of perspectives from other communities in ethnic media. Joyce Chen at the Sing Tao Daily suggested that AsianWeek purchase advertisements in ethnic media to apologize. Raj Jayadev, an editor of the Silicon Valley De-Bug in San Jose, suggested a youth column to discuss what young people from different ethnic groups wish others knew about their communities. Panelists agreed that editors must look at underlying issues of race relations, avoid sensationalism, and address cultural history in news coverage.

What was remarkable was that, instead of finger-pointing, the ethnic media owned the issue of race relations and the challenge of improving their reporting, said Close. While critical of AsianWeek, they were also willing to forgive.

This is not the end of the conversation, said Close. This is a call to action."

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