AAJA Encourages Newsrooms to Empower AAPI Journalists and Their Expertise

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

On behalf of our broadcast members nationwide, the Broadcast Advisory Council of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) urges newsrooms to empower their Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) journalists by recognizing both the unique value they bring to the coverage of the Atlanta shootings and the invisible labor they regularly take on, especially in newsrooms where they are severely underrepresented.

Since the shootings, we have heard some deeply concerning problems in newsrooms across the country, including in Atlanta.

      • “Are you sure your bias won’t show if you cover the Atlanta shootings?”
      • “You might be too emotionally invested to cover this story.”

We have heard from broadcast members — and from members across newsrooms who volunteered to cover the Atlanta shooting —  who have expertise, language skills, and the cultural competency in the community, but were not assigned. AAJA urges newsrooms to offer coverage opportunities to AAPI journalists who are uniquely positioned, sourced and skilled to cover the unfolding news — and who want to be a part of it. 

Journalists rely on access for accurate, thorough reporting. Without leveraging the reporters in newsrooms who can deftly navigate the AAPI community affected by the shootings, we risk overlooking and sidelining the perspectives that are central to the story and that need to be represented. This is poor journalism.

At the same time, we have heard from many of our members who are the only, or one of few, AAPIs in the newsroom, who have asked for nuanced coverage of the shooting story and been rejected. The burden of being “the only one” in the newsroom creates a professional and emotional toll on these journalists who may feel responsible for representing the entire AAPI community, often without the leadership titles to make editorial or staffing decisions. While AAPI journalists can be an invaluable resource — and we commend newsrooms who recognize and empower AAPI journalists — the entire newsroom must also do the work of learning more about the communities they cover.

This assumed responsibility of ensuring fair and accurate community representation is the type of unseen labor that falls on women and minorities in newsrooms, and must be recognized and reconciled by managers and colleagues. It results from lack of proper training, hiring and promoting by newsrooms. We urge newsroom managers to also provide the extra support, resources and compensation minority journalists may need and deserve as they shoulder the disproportionate burden of this labor.

The AAPI community is not a monolith. One journalist does not — and cannot — speak on behalf of the entire community. The professional challenges for AAPIs are complicated and rooted in systemic problems. The range of concerns raised by our members are deeply concerning, and we urge newsrooms to listen to, learn from, and advocate for their employees. 

— AAJA Broadcast Advisory Council

You Might Also Like