Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

AAPG Forum Launches Program to Acquaint Candidates with Concerns of Minority Press

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

AAPG Forum Launches Program to Acquaint Candidates with Concerns of Minority Press

Article excerpt

AAPG Forum Launches Program to Acquaint Candidates With Concerns of Minority Press

Pat and Samir Twair are free-lance journalists based in Los Angeles.

"Political candidates come for our money, but not our vote." So said Kapsom Yim Lee, editor of the bilingual Korea Times at a June 15 panel discussion sponsored by the Arab American Press Guild.

Arab Americans could identify with her comment--except that, as recently as 1984, U.S. presidential candidates wouldn't even accept Arab-American financial contributions, out of fear of their Jewish donors.

The AAPG program, "Challenges Facing the Minority Media," featured speakers Gerardo Lopez, editor of La Opinion; Robert Farrell, political editor of the Los Angeles Sentinel; Ms. Lee; and Samir Twair, AAPG president and Washington Report correspondent.

Abdelhai Hamoud was master of ceremonies for the event, which opened with a presentation by Lopez, who noted that, with a daily circulation of 135,000, La Opinion ranks 45th or 46th among the 100 largest newspapers in the country.

"Our foremost challenge, from our perspective, is to produce a daily newspaper in Spanish in the U.S." he said. "Our reporters go out and gather facts in English and write them in Spanish every single day. Few papers in the world do this on a daily basis."

Another challenge is the paper's readership, composed of people from Mexico as well as other parts of the Spanish-speaking world.

"Most of these readers came from a homogeneous society, whereas here they are confronting a different cultural, judicial and financial system," explained the Mexican-born Lopez, who received a journalism degree from California State University Northridge.

"We gather facts with the same rigor and discipline as Los Angeles Times reporters do," he continued, "but we also must do public service journalism by informing our readers how to become citizens, acquire health care and participate in the political process."

Farrell, a former Los Angeles City Councilman, told the audience that the Los Angeles Sentinel was founded in 1933 and is published each Thursday for 25 cents an issue.

There are an estimated 400 African-American weeklies in the U.S., he said, but Atlanta is the only city where there is sufficient advertising to support a daily black newspaper.

"We are a fact-seeking advocacy newspaper," Farrell continued. "Our goal is to be there for an African American if he has a problem and to get his point of view across to the public."

The Sentinel accomplishes all this with a staff of six full-time reporters and 20 part-time writers and stringers.

"What distinguishes African-American newspapers is that we represent the shortcomings of society," he concluded. "Our advertisers are chiefly black, except for those corporations which target our community. Our publishers have to make their money elsewhere because our margins are very narrow."

Lee stated that the growth of the Korea Times in Los Angeles has paralleled that of the Korean community, which numbers about half a million in Los Angeles County.

Opened in Los Angeles in 1969 with 12 employees, today the Korea Times has a circulation of 100,000 and an editorial staff of 50. Most of the readers are first-generation immigrants and speak Korean. Advertising is generated almost entirely from the community, and the paper generally prints more pages per issue than the Los Angeles Times.

The foremost challenge facing her newspaper, Lee said, is biased reporting from the mainstream press, which exaggerates racial tensions between Koreans and other minorities living in the inner city. …

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