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