AAJA Guidance on Atlanta Shootings & Anti-Asian Hate Incidents


UPDATE: AAJA revises and expands guidance for Atlanta shootings and anti-Asian hate incidents (March 26, 2021, 10:26 pm ET) 

We have updated and expanded on our guidance on coverage of the Atlanta shootings. The updates include: 

      • Guidance for follow-up coverage on the shootings
      • Corrected name of Young’s Asian Massage
      • Explanation of AAJA’s pronunciation guide for victim names
      • Update to guidance on language that could fuel hypersexualization of Asian women
      • Additional guidance to help newsrooms more responsibly cover anti-Asian hate incidents

AAJA will update our guidance as necessary. For more specific coverage guidance related to other communities, we urge you to consult resources created by organizations and people of those communities.

The shootings in Atlanta on March 16 killed eight people. Six of the victims were identified as Asian and seven were women. At least four of those killed were of Korean descent. 

The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) urges newsrooms to:  

In describing the businesses affected by the shootings, newsrooms should describe them accurately, avoiding uncorroborated or poorly corroborated references. We recommend they be described as “spas,” “businesses,” or by their proper names: Young’s Asian Massage, Aromatherapy Spa and Gold Spa. 

  • Avoid assumptions, insinuations and relying on unverified sources.

    We are concerned by some coverage of the Atlanta shootings we’ve seen related to potential sex work or sex trafficking, which are complex and nuanced topics that deserve care. These stories should adhere to basic journalistic principles and standards of ethics, verification, accuracy and transparency. The intent of this guidance is to ensure stories are being reported accurately and responsibly.

    As newsrooms shape their follow-up coverage, including any potential stories into previous police investigations into the spas or any of their employees, newsrooms should consider the relevance of their reporting, the context in which they are reporting that story, and whether they are making assumptions or projecting any culpability onto the victims of shootings.

Newsrooms need to consider: What is the relevance of your story to this shooting? What is the necessary context? What sources or resources are you using to inform your reporting, and are they verifiable or credible?

  • Provide context. We urge newsrooms to cover the shootings in the context of the current rise in attacks on Asian Americans. These shootings have come during a time of increasing attacks on the AAPI community, and heightened fear among AAPI communities across the country.

  • Understand anti-Asian racism and invisibility. Racism against AAPIs is highly nuanced, complex, and has remained historically invisible, and includes a long history of hypersexualization of Asian women that is rooted in Westernized and colonial perceptions of Asia.

    This is inextricably linked to harassment and sexualized violence against Asian women. Women of Asian descent have reported 2.3 times more incidents of violence than AAPI men, according to a new Stop AAPI Hate report of nearly 3,800 hate incidents reported since March 2020.

  • Diversify your sources by interviewing and quoting AAPI experts. AAJA’s speakers bureau, AAJA Studio, includes AAPI researchers, experts and thought leaders with expertise in equal rights, hate crimes, AAPI history, racial justice and community-building work, racial profiling and discrimination. 

A local coalition of AAPI civil rights, advocacy, and direct service organizations have compiled a list of AAPI community contacts for media

AAJA Studio is not an exhaustive list of experts, and we encourage reaching out to AAPI studies professors and scholars as well.

When more information emerges about the victims’ identities, center their stories and those within the community. Please consult members of the AAPI community to ensure accurate spelling and pronunciation of Asian names. 

  • Empower and support your AAPI journalists and colleagues. Newsrooms must provide AAPI journalists with the necessary mental wellness support as our community faces increased anti-Asian violence and sentiment. AAPI journalists are underrepresented in newsrooms across the country, especially in leadership positions. AAJA has compiled a list of mental health resources for journalists experiencing grief and trauma.

  • Be specific and descriptive when referring to violence and harassment aimed at Asians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Rather than using euphemisms like “anti-Asian sentiment,” assess whether it is more accurate to use terms like “anti-Asian bias,” “anti-Asian incident,” “anti-Asian rhetoric,” “anti-Asian violence,” or “assault against Asians.”

 

On March 19, 2021, AAJA released a pronunciation guide for the victims’ names. Please note that the pronunciation of Asian names is complex and can vary based on specific regions and personal preference. We urge newsrooms to consult the people who knew the victims first about their preferred pronunciation names, before consulting our pronunciation guide. The goal of AAJA’s pronunciation guide is to provide journalists an example of how our members would pronounce the names in their reporting. 

 

AAJA stands with our AAPI journalists, who have been subject to violence and discrimination over the past year and as anti-Asian incidents have risen during the coronavirus pandemic. Many of our journalists are pushing for many times, quietly and without recognition increased coverage of AAPI experiences. Many are experiencing compounding trauma while covering the violence. We commend their dedication and resilience. 

AAJA will update our guidance as necessary. For more specific coverage guidance related to other communities, we urge you to consult resources created by organizations and people of those communities.



AAJA MediaWatch Committee

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March 17, 2021 

AAJA Guidance on Atlanta Shootings 

Contact: Naomi Tacuyan Underwood, Executive Director / naomitu@aaja.org

The shootings in Atlanta on March 16 killed eight people. Six of the victims were identified as Asian and seven were women. At least four of those killed were of Korean descent. 

The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) urges newsrooms to:  

        • Take caution with language in news coverage that could fuel the hypersexualization of Asian women, which has been linked to violence and discrimination.

          In describing the businesses affected by the shootings, newsrooms should avoid terminology and connotations of prostitution or sexualization. We recommend they be described as “spas,” “businesses,” or by their proper names: Young’s Asian Massage Parlor, Aromatherapy Spa and Gold Spa.
        • Provide context. We urge newsrooms to cover the shootings in the context of the current rise in attacks on Asian Americans. These shootings have come during a time of increasing attacks on the AAPI community, and heightened fear among AAPI communities across the country.
        • Understand anti-Asian racism and invisibility. Racism against AAPIs is highly nuanced, complex, and has remained historically invisible, and includes a long history of hypersexualization of Asian women that is rooted in Westernized and colonial perceptions of Asia.

          This is inextricably linked to harassment and sexualized violence against Asian women. Women of Asian descent have reported 2.3 times more incidents of violence than AAPI men, according to a new Stop AAPI Hate report of nearly 3,800 hate incidents reported since March 2020.
        • Diversify your sources by interviewing and quoting AAPI experts. AAJA’s speakers bureau, AAJA Studio, includes AAPI researchers, experts and thought leaders with expertise in equal rights, hate crimes, AAPI history, racial justice and community-building work, racial profiling and discrimination. 

A local coalition of AAPI civil rights, advocacy, and direct service organizations have compiled a list of AAPI community contacts for media

AAJA Studio is not an exhaustive list of experts, and we encourage reaching out to AAPI studies professors and scholars as well.

When more information emerges about the victims’ identities, center their stories and those within the community. Please consult members of the AAPI community to ensure accurate spelling and pronunciation of Asian names. 

        • Empower and support your AAPI journalists and colleagues. Newsrooms must provide AAPI journalists with the necessary mental wellness support as our community faces increased anti-Asian violence and sentiment. AAPI journalists are underrepresented in newsrooms across the country, especially in leadership positions. AAJA has compiled a list of mental health resources for journalists experiencing grief and trauma.

AAJA stands with our AAPI journalists, who have been subject to violence and discrimination over the past year and as anti-Asian incidents have risen during the coronavirus pandemic. Many of our journalists are pushing for many times, quietly and without recognition increased coverage of AAPI experiences. Many are experiencing compounding trauma while covering the violence. We commend their dedication and resilience. 

This is a developing story, and AAJA will update our guidance as necessary. 

AAJA MediaWatch Committee

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