The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) was awarded a $200,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to launch “Diverse and Inclusive: News of the Heartland,” a project to address the lack of news coverage of minorities and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities in Nebraska.
The idea to implement the one-year program stemmed from a study of existing news coverage. AAJA and National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) conducted an analysis of November 2012 news coverage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) and LGBT communities — and the issues of domestic violence and immigration reform — in four states including Nebraska. In addition, AAJA and NLGJA leaders spoke with community leaders in two states, including Nebraska, about coverage of LGBTs and other minorities.
Findings included that the coverage was lacking in both quantity and depth, that news organizations didn’t have the resources or expertise to substantially increase coverage and that there were not many LGBT and ethnic media outlets to cover these communities.
As part of the program, AAJA and NLGJA will form collaborations with Nebraska news outlets and journalism programs for professional and student journalists to produce original local, regional and national content on key issues faced by these communities. In addition, community members will receive training and needed tools to learn how to draft opinion pieces, including a sourcebook for Nebraska journalists that will help guide production of lasting and inclusive coverage. AAJA will work in partnership with NLGJA in implementing the project.
“We are pleased to partner with the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association to diversify news coverage in the heartland of America,” AAJA National President Paul Cheung said. “The grant will further our joint mission to elevate diversity in news across a broad spectrum of core issues from health care to immigration to domestic violence and more.”
“NLGJA is incredibly pleased to begin this project, which was created through this historic alliance between NLGJA and AAJA,’’ added Jen Christensen, NLGJA president. “We hope our efforts will increase coverage of communities that often get overlooked and we hope that our joint project will offer a model that we can replicate in other parts of the country in the future.”
“We thank the Ford Foundation for awarding us with this grant,’’ AAJA Executive Director Kathy Chow said. “The Foundation and AAJA remain strong partners because of our shared belief that diversity of news coverage leads to a better understanding of all communities.”
The Asian American Journalists Association is a nonprofit professional and educational organization with more than 1,700 members across the United States and in Asia. Founded in 1981, AAJA has been at the forefront of change in the journalism industry. AAJA’s mission is to encourage Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) to enter the ranks of journalism, to work for fair and accurate coverage of AAPIs, and to increase the number of AAPI journalists and news managers in the industry. AAJA is an alliance partner in UNITY Journalists, along with the Native American Journalists Association, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association. For more information about AAJA, visit www.aaja.org.
About the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association: NLGJA is an organization of journalists, media professionals, educators and students working from within the news industry to foster fair and accurate coverage of LGBT issues. NLGJA opposes all forms of workplace bias and provides professional development to its members. For more information on the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, visit the NLGJA website at www.nlgja.org