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Chicago Sun-Times Criticized For Using Photo From Japan to Depict Spread of COVID-19 in the U.S.

The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) is warning newsrooms about xenophobic stereotypes in their COVID-19 coverage after the Chicago Sun-Times used a photo from Japan in an article about the spread of COVID-19 across America.

According to AAJA, the Chicago paper used a picture from Tokyo, Japan, as part of a Twitter preview for an article about a new COVID variant that is spreading across the U.S.

AAJA said in a press release that the image was originally taken by Koji Sasahara and used in an article by Mari Yamaguchi, for the Associated Press, titled, “Japan to fully lift COVID-19 restrictions as inflection slows.”

The tweet drew criticism from other Twitter users.

AAJA called the photo “journalistically inaccurate” and said it perpetuated racism against East Asians during the pandemic.

“Additionally, using a generic image of East Asians in masks, in an article that mainly discusses the rising cases in the U.S. and Europe, continues to perpetuate the idea that COVID-19 and East Asians are automatically associated,” AAJA said in a press release.

The organization asked newsrooms to use their guide on coverage of anti-Asian violence and on COVID-19.

The Chicago Sun-Times does not appear to have addressed the photo since deleting the tweet.

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