When we read Joel Brinkley’s recent column about Vietnam, we were appalled, and we expected better from Mr. Brinkley. Apparently, so did Tribune Media Services when it acknowledged that the column did not meet its journalistic standards.
The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) commends Tribune Media Services for taking the steps it did, including appending an editor’s note vowing better vigilance in preventing future lapses in its editing process. Mr. Brinkley’s piece should not have been distributed in the first place, and the quick response by Tribune Media Services to the public condemnation is reassuring.
Public outrage over the piece is certainly justified, and AAJA joins in expressing disappointment over Mr. Brinkley’s column.
In his piece, Mr. Brinkley asserted, among other things, that the love of meat by the Vietnamese helps explain their “aggressive tendencies.” He went on to reinforce oft-used stereotypes about Asian cuisine.
We acknowledge that Mr. Brinkley was writing about his observations in Vietnam, but his words serve to only promote negative stereotypes on the United States’ large, and rapidly growing, Asian American population. It’s unfortunate that Mr. Brinkley does not fully comprehend how hurtful and harmful pieces like his can be.
MediaWatch, AAJA’s watchdog program for fair and accurate news coverage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, stands ready to assist news organizations that have questions or concerns about covering our communities. As a resource, we offer this guide: http://www.aaja.org/
President, Asian American Journalists Association
Chair, AAJA MediaWatch
Special thanks to AAJA advisory board member Bobby Calvan for his contributions to this statement.