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Project Zinger: Report Examines Media Coverage of Asian Pacific-Americans

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Project Zinger: Report Examines Media Coverage of Asian Pacific-Americans

Article excerpt

THE U.S. NEWS media relied almost entirely on official government sources in reporting recent attempts to smuggle Chinese immigrants into the United States, rarely seeking out Chinese or immigrant advocate groups, according to a study.

That charge was contained in the third annual report of Project Zinger, which takes a critical look at news media coverage of Asian Pacific-Americans. The report is done by the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism at San Francisco State University under the direction of Jon Funabiki.

The report, delivered at the annual convention of the Asian American Journalists Association held recently in Los Angeles, was based on a survey of about 80 news stories from throughout the country.

"The stories were generally covered accurately and without overt bias," the report said. "However, the review shows the U.S. media relied heavily on information from official local, state and federal sources, such as the police, Coast Guard, U.& Border Patrol and Immigration and Naturalization Service. Except for some interviews with the would-be immigrants, only a small number of sources reflected the perspective of Chinese, Chinese-Americans and immigrant advocate groups."

Many print outlets, Zinger said, focused on the story's gang angle -- how "snakeheads," [Chinese gangsters] made money by smuggling desperate Chinese into

the United States.

An example cited was a June 10 New York Times story reporting that 27-year-old Gua Liang Chi, "an illegal "alien and a felon" who twice was deported from the United States, was believed to be involved in the smuggling attempt of the ship Golden Venture. The Zinger report said the story's sources included immigration officials and New York police but no Asian-Americans were quoted.

However, some news organizations carried statements by Asian-Americans and immigrants in their stories, "which helped bring balance to the coverage," the report said.

The San Francisco Chronicle was lauded by Project Zinger for a June 23 story about U.S. officials' concerns that the immigrants posed a security problem as well as an economic and social one. The writer, Louis Freedberg, also interviewed refugee advocates, who said the vast majority of immigrants are not involved in crime, Zinger noted.

Project Zinger's critique said some age-old stereotypes of Asians and Asian Pacific-Americans are finding their way into the news media. …

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