Demographics, Computers Multiply Asian-Language Media in the US Market Now Includes Some300 Newspapers and 75 TV Shows

By Mark Trumbull, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, July 24, 1995 | Go to article overview

Demographics, Computers Multiply Asian-Language Media in the US Market Now Includes Some300 Newspapers and 75 TV Shows


Mark Trumbull, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Tucked in near a Chinese restaurant in Seattle's "international district" is a newsroom so small it could pass for a high school paper's. But to Chinese immigrants and other Asian Americans here, it represents a cultural lifeline in an often-unfamiliar land. The newsroom is home to the Seattle Chinese Post, published in Chinese, and the English-language sister publication, the Northwest Asian Weekly.

Editor Assunta Ng says that before she founded the Chinese Post in 1982, immigrants "had to go to a billboard in Chinatown to find out what was going on."

Now Ms. Ng's newspaper tells them about community events and news in a regular weekly paper, along with updates about issues in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. The paper is also a forum for advertisers to reach this specific audience.

The Seattle Chinese Post was a relatively early participant in what has become a significant trend - the proliferation of Asian-language media in the United States. The growth is fed by demographics, since Asian and Pacific ethnic groups make up the fastest-growing segment in America's population.

Now there are perhaps 580 Asian-oriented publications and broadcasts in the US, says the Imada Wong Communications Group in Los Angeles. Last fall, the public relations firm had 522 listings in its "Asian Pacific American Media Guide."

In Seattle alone there are several Chinese-language newspapers, as well as ones for Koreans, Vietnamese, and Filipinos. Nationwide, the Asian-language market includes more than 300 newspapers (92 dailies), 50 radio shows, 75 television shows, and miscellaneous products such as phone directories.

"It's increasingly becoming more sophisticated," says Garrett Gin, vice president of Imada Wong. About 40 of the products are "pan-Asian," aiming to connect to all Asians, he says.

In one sense, this is an industry still in its infancy; observers say there is room for strengthening both print and broadcast offerings. For example, there are few Japanese TV broadcasts produced in America; most are beamed from Japan.

The Asian-American population has grown 70 percent in the last decade; it now stands at around 8.5 million. Advertisers, awakened by these figures in the 1990 census, are turning their attention to Asian ethnic groups, after first moving to tap the much larger - and linguistically more homogeneous - Hispanic market. Particularly keen to reach the Asian community are the long-distance phone companies, eager to connect phone calls across the Pacific Ocean.

But, in part because of its boom, the Asian-language media may also be ripe for consolidation, says Judy Yu, co-president of AsiaNet Marketing Resources, a Seattle consulting firm.

"At some point, there's going to be a shakeout," she predicts. The survivors will be largely the older players with deep pockets. Generally these firms are Asian-owned. They include Sing Tao Holdings Ltd. (Hong Kong), Journal (Taiwan), Korea Central Daily, and the Korea Times (both with South Korean backing). The Chinese giants compete with regional editions in the US, while the Korean ones have more numerous metropolitan editions.

Even now, ethnic publications come and go, Ng says. And pressure is building in some states, such as California, for Congress to restrict new legal immigration.

The Seattle Chinese Post, with about 5,000 subscribers, is a survivor so far. "Assunta has gone after the community angle," says Ms. Yu, the Seattle consultant.

Indeed, the growth of Asian-language publications may signal a demand for stories and viewpoints that the bigger publications are not providing, says Lisa Chung, executive director of the Asian American Journalists Association in San Francisco.

The Seattle Chinese Post covers local news angles that are often missed by bigger Chinese dailies with regional editions published out of San Francisco. …

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