Archive | 11:34 am

New Paper-Free Life for AsianWeek

6 Jan

Here’s another tug at my heartstrings. Yet even as Ngoc Nguyen mourns the demise of AsianWeek in print version – what’s bad about that? – the hole in his opinion about a “Hole in Asian American Coverage” (via RaceWire’s “Absence in Asian-American Coverage Increases“) is in his article.

AsianWeek published its last weekly issue on Jan. 2, marking the end of nearly three decades as the pan-Asian voice of the Bay Area.

AsianWeek The demise of the newsweekly leaves an even bigger hole in the coverage of Asian Americans in a city where one-third of residents are Asian American. And, even though one-fifth of the Bay Area’s population is of Asian descent, Asian Americans’ voices will be harder to find in local newspapers or on the radio dial, as most mainstream media outlets from San Francisco to Oakland to San Jose have shed their Asian-American affairs reporters and radio programs.

AsianWeek is just the latest in a string of Asian-American media closures, including KQED’s Pacific Time, AZN Television, and the San Jose Mercury News’ Vietnamese-language supplement Viet Mercury.

Janice Lee, deputy executive director of the Asian American Journalists Association, said the reorganization of major news media has resulted in the layoffs and buyouts of thousands of journalists, including Asian Americans. The staff reorganizations have included the loss of Asian-American affairs reporters at the Oakland Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle, a columnist at the Mercury News, a veteran broadcaster at CBS-affiliate KPIX, and three Asian-American editors at the Chronicle, Lee said.

“We’re seeing a climate of risk in in-depth coverage of Asian Americans,” Lee said. She said all ethnic groups should be concerned about shrinking coverage of their communities.

As newspapers become thinner, readers may not notice how the staff cuts are affecting coverage, but, Lee said, community organizations that monitor Asian-American issues will be the first to feel the impact.

Yet, Harry at Hyphen notes:

“I was sad, I think, even though I know AsianWeek has been controversial,” she says. “Not everyone in the community has universal positive feelings about AsianWeek, but it definitely had a role.”

What Lisa’s alluding to is the conservative stances AsianWeek took in some of its political coverage and the Kenneth Eng debacle over his column, “Why I Hate Blacks.”

Angry Asian Man also points to the Eng debacle.

It seems AsianWeek’s strategy backfired. Firstly, it tried to represent all voices, even the nasty ones. Someone like Kenneth Eng deserves a blog for self-publication, but not a free pass from the editor. Secondly, print costs more than what the organization can profit, and still do community work. AsianWeek should shepherd voices in its community, give voices other than a badly provocative Eng’s a megaphone, and ride the internet-driven blogosphere, instead of ink-and-paper to the readership base it wants, not the one the older model demanded. Sure, it might be more insular, but a publication called AsianWeek, that’s both noxious and divorced from Asian-Americans, is meaningless to the general reading public.

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