The Ethnic Media Awards

Last Friday night I went to something that seems almost counterintuitive these days given the decline of their industry—a celebration for journalists. The Northern California Ethnic Media Awards, held in San Francisco, honored the various faces and forms of ethnic media outlets—the Sing Toa Daily’s investigation on SRO’s, Allianza’s photo essay on Oaxacan migrants, the Nichi Bei Times full issue on the concept of “mixed race.”

This awards banquet (which has been dubbed the “Ethnic Pulitzer”) was part of a series of regional awards hosted by New America Media, which will lead up to a National Ethnic Media Awards event in Atlanta in June.

At a time when the nation’s major newspapers are given the ironic task of covering their own death on their front pages, ethnic media’s role as being both conduits of information and gatekeepers to their community has arrived at a tipping point. Despite the shoe-string budgets, these outlets, through the overlap of several circumstances of history—an economy in peril, the demise of legacy news print, and the demographic shift of the county—are media who’s time has come.

For these journalists, who historically have been regulated to the margins, dismissed by the advertising world, ignored by City Hall press releases, this is the perfect time to throw a party.

It’s not that these outlets aren’t struggling; it’s just that they’re used to it. Most started in living rooms of the publisher’s house, some moved into offices, some didn’t. And while they certainly need resources to put out their bi-weekly paper, or produce their weekly television show, many function more like community organizations rather than follow corporate models.

Gilberto Morales, publisher of one of the most well-established and influential Spanish/English newspapers in the country, El Observador, still can be seen dropping off bundles of his paper around spots in San Jose.

It is this ethic of accessibility and proximity to people’s personal lives that makes the model of ethnic media more important than ever. The country’s financial insecurities have put a premium on information as people try to navigate through the confusion, looking for lifelines and roadmaps. Media that has proven to speak directly to these needs become the lifelines.

And communication devices like these can be more than just service delivery agents, but can also create enlightening journalism as well. The winner of the “Inter-Ethnic” award, Weiwei Ren’s piece “Confronting Chinese-Indian Race Relations in Silicon Valley,” from the Sing Tao Daily, was one of those examples where ethnic media can notice subtleties on the ground that get missed sometimes by the distance of establishment media.

The piece was based on the suicide deaths of two South Asian tech engineers who had Chinese employers, and the reverberations of tension between South Asian and Chinese workers in the tech industry. It was a candid and frank discussion between the two communities who are acutely aware of each other’s abilities and accomplishments in a way not obvious to those on the outside. Only those on the inside would have even known that was a story.

Symbolically, the ethnic media awards party was a public clarification of sorts. Setting the record straight that not all of journalism is in death throes, just the ones we used to think of first as “Media” with a capital “M.” Meanwhile, media that matters, whether that be ethnic journalism, hyper-local journalism, or community journalism, has assumed a new place in the information era.


  1. Raj: Where is the SJPD hate-hook here? Did they complete in a brutality photo essay and just miss out on 1st place? You must be heart broken. I did enjoy the lovely dual-victimization angle regarding the Chinese and South Asian tech workers. 

    Maybe next year it will be called the “Northern California Inter-Ethno-Hypher-Hyphi-Chi-Indo-Trans-Raza Media Awards! I’m sure someone will still be offended but let’s try to include everyone.

  2. You said it perfectly. As always, in an environment where every is struggling to make ends meet, those that know broke best are in the best position. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately as both the nations largest newspapers, as well as the Bay Area’s Non-Profit Market Struggle to Survive.

    In short: I’ll toast to that. raspberry

  3. #1 & #2

    Already unleashing all hell on Raj.  Totally didn’t see that one coming (yeah right…)

    Now all we need is Fin Fan condemning Raj’s post as supporting evil multiculturalism and John Galt blaming it all on Zoe Lofgren and that’ll complete the full circle here on SJI.

  4. California Democrat #4,

    Hey, don’t sell yourself short CalDem. You have faithfully held up your end of the bargain by chipping in with yet another inane, vacuous comment that is totally devoid of any substance.

  5. Raj,

    Readers are still waiting for you to fill in the details in your previous article as you forgot to tell us what happened to the grandmother Maria Castillo.  If you are going to use Ms. Castillo as a prime example of police abuse, you need to give your readers enough information to understand the circumstance leading to her arrest.

  6. #7-Sonya,
    I agree. Immigrants have a tough time when they leave their homes and come here. They need a connection to whom and what they grew up with, and to help them assimilate to our culture. I can’t tell you how many of my Vietnamese and Hispanic friends have told me how frightening and lonely it is for them when they first arrive here. Mixed media is a very import tool of survival for them, and I support that 100%.

  7. As someone who immigrated to America, I find my ethnic newspapers as the connection to both my homeland and here in this country.  My ethnic media has been a place that helps me be part of my past and present.  It is an institutional source i can count on that makes me feel that my issues are valid.  I’m glad there is an ethnic media association that values the collective power of each individual news source and by extension, the collective power of America’s ethnic communities.

  8. JMO’C,

    What you fail to accept is that you and your kind belong to the one group that, in the eyes of America’s enlightened minorities, is devoid of ethnicity. To them you are only a skin color. It makes no matter whether you or your ancestors came from Ireland, Sweden, Italy, France, Ukraine, or any of the very distinct nations and subcultures scattered about Europe, you can never be anything more to them than just a white guy. You are, in temperament, taste, talent, and values, considered identical to every other white person—responsible for dispossessing the Native Americans, the institution of slavery, the internment of the Japanese, and depriving the Mexican government from turning the American Southwest into part of the pigsty that is Mexico. I don’t know, you may also be responsible for spreading the vicious rumor that Asians are crappy drivers.

    Racist morons of color may fret about ethnic subtleties getting missed by the establishment media, but they cherish their ignorance about the ancient differences that exist within that convenient-to-resent category of countrymen they call White Americans. To them, Whites are uniformly dull, uniformly served by the “establishment media,” uniformly fulfilled by traditional American culture. Your white skin is attached to a history that can be described with a few derogatory words; your ancestors knew no struggle; you were born of privilege and everything has been handed to you. You are the monster that has kept them from glory. Theirs is a delusion that serves them well, especially those of marginal talent and monstrous envy, as the myth of a great and powerful oppressor can soothe the stings of both failure and mediocrity. Best of all, it gives them the right to claim what they don’t deserve.

    Dare to speak up for yourself, dare to expect to be regarded as an individual with a unique history of your own—a member of a distinct family tree, and the “enlightened” will quickly and rudely remind you that in the multicultural world of their dreams, you and your kind are merely a backdrop against which they can tell the only stories that deserve telling: their own.

  9. #16-Fin Fan,
    I think you forgotten a few things. Some of these folks who hate whites, or see us as privileged snobs never acknowledge the fact that many whites led, and are still leading this nation in the fight to bring forth racially equality, and Civil Rights laws. They don’t acknowledge that whites have always marched along side many great leaders fighting for change. Especially in the 60s, African American leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. worked with and walked with WHITES, and that many of those WHITES died doing it.

    They turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the many efforts that white people and white politicians have made in achieving one of our greatest successes to date, putting our first African American President in the White House because it would never occurs to them that some of us whites folks vote based on the quality of a candidate, not on their color. Or that some of us cried a river of joyful tears to see our first African American President take Office. (I guess it never occurred to them that, that was a dream of some of us white folks too.)

    This reverse discrimination has sadly become widely acceptable, and I’m sick of it being acceptable. I am white and I have as much right to be proud of that as people of color have the equal right to take pride in being of color. That doesn’t make me a racist, it makes me equal to sharing the same rights, and respect for my culture as they have. And I don’t care if that isn’t acceptable or PC enough for some folks.

    I don’t know about you but I have never taken Africans from their land by force, beat them, raped them or separated them from their families. Nor have I seen African Americans in the field being beaten, while they are picking cotton. Nor have I taken an illegal from Mexico and put them in a sweatshop, and violated them in any way. I never imprisoned an Asian person during the war, nor have I ever, or would I ever use my position to discriminate against someone.

    But I have fought for racially equality, and have marched for freedom, and equal treatment. I guess some misguided, self righteous folks would say that I do it out of some sort of guilt for the way our forefathers mistreated treated minorities. The First Amendment guarantees their right to say that, and for that I thank God, freedom fighters of every race, and for the veterans who fought to keep our country free to do so!

  10. Leftist: “Hey, you want to hear a knock-knock joke?”

    Sane Person: “Oh, not really.”

    Leftist: “Oh come on. It’ll be fun.”

    Sane Person: “Oh, all right. Go ahead.”

    Leftist: “Knock Knock”

    Sane Person: “Who’s there?”

    Leftist: “Racism.”

    Sane Person: “Racism who?”

    Leftist: “You don’t know? You don’t know? Of course you don’t know. Don’t talk to ME about racism you priveleged white bastard.”

  11. Why do you assume that everything ethnic media is anti-white?  Do you also assume that when women get together it’s anti-men?  The article nor the awards celebrated any story about being anti-white.  It’s NOT ABOUT YOU. Get off it.

    And quit using Raj’s article(s) as your platforms to go off and cry about your insecurities or fish for thank yous or compliments for joining various people’s movements for justice.

  12. #19,
    Many, many non-whites have been awarded the Pulitzer Prize. How would you feel, Fernando, if the Pulitzer was open to all EXCEPT Hispanics? Then, when you object that this is discrimatory, somebody tells you to “Get over it. THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU”.

    The “Ethnic Pulitzer” can apparently be won by anybody as long as they aren’t white. And that’s OK with you? Gee, that civil rights movement thing didn’t achieve very much. Did it?

  13. #14 said:“But, John, don’t all you white guys don’t get a break, look and sound alike?”  Huh, say that again in comprehensible English, please. 

    #15—I’m supposed to get all upset by the unsubstantiated allegation of an anonymous idiot who doesn’t know me?  When you grow the balls to use your real name, I might consider your comments worthwhile.

  14. John Michael O’Connor,

    Point out where in the Ethnic Media Awards it says no whites allowed or recognized. 

    “The “Ethnic Pulitzer” can apparently be won by anybody as long as they aren’t white. And that’s OK with you? Gee, that civil rights movement thing didn’t achieve very much. Did it?”

    Yeah—obviously you missed the whole point.

  15. Although I completely agree with what many of you have expressed (finfan, jmoc, kathleen, john galt), I would contend that there is something infinitely more substantial than the blatant discrimination.

    Events, institutions and the liberal think behind ethnic media awards, black chambers of commerce, Mexican scholarship funds, etc., strips people of something that is more important than anything, human dignity.

    The liberalism behind race-based decision making offers nothing in the true sense becoming a dignified human being with self-worth and respect.  There is no doubt, if the goal of such policies and proposals is to make up for history, then those receiving the favors are nothing more than pawns in the minds of people with a guilty conscience.

    People who hand out favors to others based on anything but merit are stripping those recipients of part of their soul, and they even feel noble while doing it.

    While they get kudos among their like-minded friends at cocktail parties, and rub elbows with “cultured” among us, they have taught an entire generation of people that they needed help.  Their current or future place in life is because of them, their policy ideas, their generosity, their nobility.

    That slight stripping away of human dignity is infinitely more destructive than any discrimination one could ever encounter.  Once people have bought into the fact that they can’t stand on their own two feet, work hard and make a life for themselves, by themselves, without help, something deep within them is lost forever.

    I’d go as far as saying that dignity was not lost, it was stolen, under the guise of compassion.

  16. #24-Joe Average,
    Beautifully said. We all bleed red, and should be valued for who and what we are, and not for the color of our skin.

    “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
    Quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  17. joe, kathleen, etc..

    OH MY GOD.  you are so right.  we people of color don’t know what we need—human dignity.  thank you once again, white people, for telling us what we need.

  18. #26-Fernando,
    Rather than participating in an intellectual discussion, you seem to enjoy twisting the meaning of what people say, as well as having a real hatred of white people. You just accused Joe and I of telling people of color what they need, when in reality we have done nothing of the kind. If our wanting a world of color blindness to be a thing of the future, and human dignity being more important than race, and if our wanting people to live in a world that recognizes us for our achievements, regardless of color, is some kind of crime in your world, then I feel very sorry for you.

    You might try practicing what you preach to us, looking past your own bias, and seeing it for what it is, not the way you are distorting it. And get some help for your hatred toward whites, it is only hurting you to be that angry.

  19. I’ve been following this thread with interest, but I don’t see what’s wrong with “ethnic media.”  Every interest group in America has its media….firefighters, Republicans, bankers, tobacco smokers, etc. 

    Print media lays waste to vast forests, it is true, and it is interesting to contemplate the rise and fall of the printing press. While early versions of the printing press refer to related discoveries in China and Korea, apparently the movable type printing press originated in Germany in AD 1440. A little computation will tell us that the movable type printing press, later followed by offset printing, is essentially dead already after just 569 years…not an exceptionally long run as basic technology goes.

    And on the other hand, the Pulitzer Award was forever tainted when the New York Times collected one for a “reporter” who systematically lied about the Holodomor (the systemctic starvation of 7 million Ukrainian farmers & tool makers) by the wretched Bolsheviks, a group no one claims credit for nowadays. I cannot think of a more shameful name to pick up and use.  However, each to his or her own.

    Which is really the point I am making. Every self-designated demographic has the right to send out letters, news letters, newspapers, tabloids, email messages, and web site-situated fact & opinion presentations.

    One good thing about Fernando is that he hasn’t used a counter-claim that the Mercury News, for example, is “white media,” and for that I am grateful. The Mercury News is probably the most mean-spirited & biased published paper on the west coast against the fair representation of the diverse white American peoples.  You might fairly call it the “anti-white media” as it is that to a far greater extent than anything I have read in any of the various Asian American or American Latino publication, and I try to read them all.

    But no one is stopping anyone who complains about others’ media operations from setting up a medium to share the Euro-American values and goals as far away from the hateful frame provided by the loathsome Mercury News as possible.

    So, Fernando, thanks for not telling us the Merc is a “white media,” and the rest of you get busy and set up a publication of some kind that will allow our entire San Jose community to gain a better understanding of who we are.

  20. Anonymous hot dog boy #10 doesn’t get it, but I thought you were more discerning, Dale, #29.

    We have a huge race problem. If no-one understands that to have a black or hispanic or asian or any other ethnic award seen as OK, and yet if someone proposes a white version of the same that the white version is racist and all the ethnic versions are not.  A minority only award is eminently racist.

    Then there is the other problem—the resignation/capitulation of those who propose these minority only awards are impliedly stating that minorities can’t compete on the same field.  If I were black, or asian, or hispanic and someone told me I could only compete against people of my same background, I’d be totally pissed at the insult.  But that’s what ethnic awards are really saying.

    Barack Obama understands this.  So does Ward Connerly.  If two such widely diverse folks on the political spectrum come to the same conclusion, what does that say to you?

    Take a few months to cogitate on that, hot dog boy, because it WILL take you that long, at least, to figure it out.

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