AAJA MediaWatch urges Vice Media Group and other outlets to be vigilant about AAPI misrepresentation

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

After an editorial lapse by Vice Media, the Asian American Journalists Association’s (AAJA’s) MediaWatch Committee urges Vice Media Group and other media outlets to be vigilant about their representation of Asians and Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. 

On April 9, 2021, Vice published an interview with an artist who is colorizing photographs of prisoners of the Khmer Rouge regime held at Security Prison 21 (S-21) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Vice published several photographs without stating that the artist manipulated images by adding smiles to prisoners’ faces.

Vice removed the article on April 11 and acknowledged that the article did not meet its editorial standards. On April 16, Vice issued an apology and that it has “begun outreach in private with community groups and individuals to address this.”

We support the decision to remove the article and their outreach to the community. We urge Vice Media to be transparent as they investigate how this lapse in their editorial process occurred, and steps they will take to ensure fair and accurate coverage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs).

Media outlets must  be vigilant of images that can be manipulated and/or taken out of context, which can contribute to misrepresentation of AAPIs and AAPI history. 

Up to 20,000 Cambodians were imprisoned at S-21, most of whom were tortured and murdered. An estimated 1.7 million people were killed during Cambodia’s genocide from 1975 to 1979.

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