NEW YORK - The Asian American Federation gives the media a "C" for its coverage of Asian American communities in New York. With headlines dominated by an alarming surge in hate crimes targeting Americans of Asian descent, we went directly to the community for a review. Leaders there say the media was late to expose the hateful and violent trend.
Journalist Rong Xiaoqing was reporting on the rise in hate crimes back in February 2020 and something struck her early on.
"What we saw is on one hand attacked at all sorts of public venues on the other hand they were trying their best to donate PPE," Xiaoqing said.
Her coverage of volunteer efforts in different neighborhoods across different boroughs found an alarming correlation from the beginning.
"I found that almost every one of them had been personally attacked," Xiaoqing said. "This proportion was already very high at that time. I don't think people outside the community realized that was already happening."
And she is right. Coverage of #stopasianhate really hit the headlines in January 2021, some 10 months behind coverage by the ethnic press.
Even before the pandemic, Asians were feeling overlooked, enraged when the city tried to cut the number of Asian American students in the city's specialized high schools, said Joe Wei, the deputy managing editor at the World Journal. He said the under-representation of stories describing the challenges of a community leads to people being left out and neglected.
"It's a disservice to our contribution and furthers our invisibility," said Jo-Ann Yoo, the executive director of the Asian American Federation and who sees it as a question of leadership and diversity in the upper echelons of media organizations. She, too, said missing stories in any community, neglecting the challenges they face, has a tremendous cost.