HomeCommunity IssuesA New Journalism Needed for a New America

A New Journalism Needed for a New America

Jose Antonio Vargas
Jose Antonio Vargas launches a crowdfunding campaign for a new kind of media – #EmergingUS.

By Ed Diokno

As the United States makes the rocky transition to a minority majority country we see the great institutions – political, judicial, educational, entertainment and others struggle to adjust to the new demographic because they know if they don’t, they will quickly lose their credibility and their usefulness.

One of those institutions having trouble is the news media – from the way they view what makes the news down to the composition of its work force. Right in the middle is Jose Antonio Vargas, a Filipino American Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, who happens to be undocumented.

Besides becoming one of the most outspoken advocates for immigration reform because of his immigration status, he is using his journalistic skills to force the news industry to change the way they perceive the news and especially how they cover communities of color.

Recently Vargas launched a crowdfunding campaign for #EmergingUS, a news agency he believes can fill the void in covering troublesome issues usually not covered by the traditional media giants. All he needs is a million dollars.

RELATED: Jose Vargas will make you uncomfortable

“I cannot talk about Black Lives Matter and not talk about the immigrant rights movement, and not talk about the LGBTQ movement and not talk about income inequality, and not talk about working-class White people,” Vargas said in an interview with The Huffington Post. “All of those issues are interconnected, yet for the most part in newsrooms, they’re thought of as separate.”

“The way most of the East Coast-based news organizations talk about these issues,” he added, “doesn’t reflect the reality that is happening across the country.”

Recently he created #JournalismSoWhite when he challenged the major newspapers to assign reporters of color to cover the presidential campaigns, especially since race and immigration are such huge issues.

“Asian people in this country are actually more immigrant than Latinos are,” said Vargas, who now lives in L.A. “But how do we cover immigration? Is it because we think Mexican, we automatically think Latino, and then we automatically think the border, and then we automatically think illegal?”


RELATED: #JournalismSoWhite challenges news media

#EmergingUS was born in the L.A. Times newsroom, but after publisher Austin Beutner was fired in September, Vargas was forced to seek other sources of revenue in order for #EmergingUS to continue as a video-heavy independent news service.


The other big issue is the demographic shift in the country’s population where census experts predict that Euro Americans will become less than 50 percent by mid-century. How whites adjust to their new status is a major story that is already showing up in the Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders candidacies, both of whom draw heavily from working class whites who feel their privileges and entitlement slipping away.


From the #EmergingUS website, these are some stories that will be covered:

    • Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, the co-founders of #BlackLivesMatter, who appear together on camera to describe the origins of this modern-day civil rights movement


    • Americans who explain their complex relationships to the race categories on the U.S. Census – who has a box and who doesn’t? Are the boxes we check accurate?


    • Immigrants who respond to Donald Trump’s policy of re-admitting the “good immigrants” to America after his proposed mass deportation. Who gets to be a “good immigrant,” and who gets to decide?


  • White Americans are an emerging racial minority in many parts of the country; White students became a minority in K-12 public schools for the first time during the 2014-2015 school year.


RELATED: America’s challenge is learning to live with itself

Since the crowdfunding campaign was launched 15 days ago, #EmergingUS has raised 13 percent of their goal, or over $136,180. If you would like to help, click here.


For Vargas and the rest of the journalists of #EmergingUS, diversity is not just a goal, nor is it a side issue that is covered in Black History Month or Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month – it’s life in the new America every day. And that’s what mainstream media is missing in their their story selection and news judgements.

(Ed Diokno writes a blog :Views From The Edge: news and analysis from an Asian American perspective.)

(AsAmNews is an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns. You can show your support by liking our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/asamnews, following us on Twitter and sharing our stories.)


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