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[DIVERSITY] Asian Pacific American Media Struggles

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  • madchinaman
    Communities :: Asian American http://www.hearusnow.org/?id=647 The struggle for Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, or Asian Americans, to obtain equal
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 9, 2006
      Communities :: Asian American

      The struggle for Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, or Asian
      Americans, to obtain equal access to opportunities in media is no
      small challenge. Asian Americans make up approximately 5% of the
      American population. In every area – from ownership, to opportunities
      to work in journalism and entertainment media, Asian Americans are
      underrepresented. By contrast, Asian Americans lead the Nation in at-
      home access to hi-speed Internet, or broadband.

      Asian-American Presence in Media
      Asian Americans are keenly aware of the power of the media to affect
      the way mainstream society perceives them. Reports indicate that
      mainstream media continues to contribute to a lack of understanding
      and awareness of Asian American culture, interests and concerns
      through underrepresentation of Asian American images onscreen and
      contributing to negative stereotyping of Asian Americans. This can
      be seen in the overwhelming protest to the "Tsunami Song," which was
      broadcasted by Emmis Communications' Hot 97 radio station in the days
      following the devastating tsunami of December 2004. Another example
      is the controversy stirred up by the release of "Memoirs of a
      Geisha," which portrayed the life of Japanese geisha using Chinese
      and Malaysian actors.

      This lack of representation, or misrepresentation, can be also be
      seen in recent reports. For example, the National Asian Pacific
      American Legal Consortium (now the Asian American Justice Center)
      found (PDF) that Asian American actors in primetime represent less
      than half of the Asian American population. And evidence presented by
      the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights showed that the majority of
      Asian American actors were limited to "stereotyped niche" roles, such
      as "technology geeks" or martial artists. Other groups argue that
      programming that shows the Asian American experience as part of the
      American experience in general, is extremely limited.

      Asian-American Media Ownership
      Overall, media ownership by all people of color (who together
      comprise approximately one third of the US population) remains at low
      levels. Together people of color own less than 4% of television and
      radio broadcast licenses, have no real cable network ownership, and
      are underrepresented in opportunities to participate in the process
      of creating media as owners, executives, journalists and actors.

      Media employment statistics for Asian Americans show plenty of room
      for improvement. Studies recently commissioned by the Asian American
      Journalists Association (AAJA) demonstrate a link (PDF) between Asian
      Americans employment and coverage of issues of importance to the
      Asian American community. AAJA also shows (PDF) that, in the top 25
      markets, there are only 106 Asian Americans in news programming as
      anchors, reporters, etc. Of this number, only 19% are male. And in
      regards to Asian Americans in newsroom management (PDF), the numbers
      are low in large markets and nearly nonexistent in small and mid-
      sized markets.

      Asian-American Access to Technology
      Researcher Robert Fairlie reports that Asian Americans are more
      likely than any other racial group – including white Americans – to
      have at-home broadband connections. Approximately 30% of Asian
      Americans have at-home access, as compared to 20% for whites, and
      about 10% for African-American and Latino households. While these
      numbers are encouraging for the community, it is important to
      advocate for policies that make broadband more affordable for

      Access to broadband is critical because it is a gateway to a wide
      range of services and information. An at-home broadband connection
      can provide access to low-cost telephone alternatives, such as Voice
      over the Internet Protocol (VoIP), programming alternatives to cable
      and TV (which may address concerns about Asian American media
      content), and to a wide array of educational, financial, employment,
      and health resources.

      Moving from these facts to solutions requires a cooperative effort of
      many individuals and organizations. Asian Americans must work
      together to develop and advocate for strategies that take advantage
      of legislative opportunities and community/market-based solutions to
      advance the cause of minority media. Those making this effort
      include the following:

      The Asian Pacific American Media Coalition (APAMC) publishes an
      annual report card (PDF) on Television Diversity. In 2005, none of
      the networks earned a grade higher than C+.
      The Center for Asian American Media (formerly the National Asian
      American Telecommunications Association) was founded "to counter the
      scarcity of images of Asians in film and television, correct the
      often distorted portrayals of them in the mainstream media, and
      create opportunities for the full participation of Asian American
      producers in the public media."
      Asian Media Watch is an "independent non-profit grassroots
      organization dedicated to promoting a diverse, fair, and balanced
      portrayal of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in the media and
      entertainment industry."
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