The Asian-American community and the U.S. political system
March 21, 1997
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Where is the hard evidence that Asian Americans were targeted? What has been the result of the campaign fundraising investigations? How do Asian Americans fare politically compared to Jewish groups and others? Will African Americans run into these same problems? Additional questions and comments . Bernard Cleary of Baltimore, MD, asks:
What is the ethnic make-up of average U.S. newsrooms, and does it have any bearing on the coverage of this issue?
Mark Hosenball of Newsweek Magazine responds:
Minority and women journalists now are eagerly recruited by editors across the country. There are probably fewer Asian journalists than, say, African-American journalists working in the major media today but there is certainly no active discrimination against Asian-Americans; indeed one of our most senior Washington correspondents, now covering both diplomatic affairs and parts of the fundraising scandal for Newsweek, is an Asian-American.
Ethnic bias has nothing whatsoever to do with how the current scandal is being covered, though I suppose you could argue that some stories or headlines have been insensitive in evoking ethnic stereotypes. In terms of how us reporters on the street are digging out information, ethnic prejudice doesn't shape our coverage at all.
Frank Wu of Howard University responds:
Asian Americans remain underrepresented in the media, especially in senior editorial and higher management positions. Asian Americans make up less than 2 percent of all print journalists. There are a few nationally syndicated columnists who are Asian American, but their work is not widely distributed. A few broadcast journalists such as Connie Chung have become well-known, but even that success has led to stereotyping, as local television stations tried to hire their own Connie Chung look-alike.
I would hesitate before arguing an individual's racial background determines their political viewpoints. Yet people of any given background may be, in a modest manner, more sensitive about what would be in effect stereotyping themselves. Better coverage, not simply more favorable toward any group, but better in the sense of being more accurate and including the full range of opinions, is a likely consequence of diversity.