For decades, U.S. Asian media have played a vital role in covering and informing the many diverse communities they serve. They publish and broadcast in dozens of languages, from Tagalog to Nepali Gorkha, from Vietnamese to Mandarin, from Punjabi to Bahasa, from Korean to Hmong. And they have responded vigorously to the crises of COVID-19, anti-Asian violence, and disinformation and political polarization that have rocked their world in the past year.
Yet the media serving Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) are largely invisible to most Americans. In a revelatory new report, “Asian Media on the Front Lines,” released today during AAPI Heritage Month, the Center for Community Media at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY shines a light on this dynamic and rapidly evolving sector.
The report notes, for instance, that the AAPI population made up the bulk of essential frontline workers during the pandemic, and it also faced extremely high rates of infection and death from COVID-19. Yet “even as many outlets faced existential threats with the loss of advertising revenue from community businesses during lockdowns…, Asian media found ways to sustain their journalism when their communities turned to them for relevant, reliable, and in-language news.”
The report is chock full of examples of the indispensable work provided by AAPI journalists and news organizations. According to the study, the COVID-19 pandemic unleashed a parallel epidemic of discrimination, racism, hate crimes, and violence against Asian people. This led to the launch in March 2020 of Stop AAPI Hate, a national reporting center to chronicle incidents of anti-Asian discrimination, bullying, and assault. As of March 31, 2021, it had documented 6,603 occurrences, with more than 2,800 reported in March 2021 alone, the same month as the shootings in Atlanta that killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women.