Thursday, November 20, 2008

Asian American Representation in News Media

In chapter eleven titled Asian American Mass Publics in the News, in the book, Media & Minorities, The Politics of Race in News and Entertainment, written by Stephanie Greco Larson, the representation of Asian Americans in news is addressed. Basically, very little positive representations of Asian Americans can be seen in news history. Articles about Asian Americans are less frequent than articles regarding Hispanics or African Americans.

When Asian Americans are represented in news media, they are often times represented negatively. Larson writes that, “Asian Americans often appear in crime news as suspects or gang members…Some news representations of Asian Americans demonize them…Media coverage also trivializes Asian Americans” (132, 134). I find it particularly interesting when Larson writes on page 134, “The words “Asian” and “Asian American” are often used interchangeably in news stories”. Larson continues to explain how Korean Americans are often referred to as Koreans, and I believe you can witness the same trend with Chinese Americans. Larson writes that the lack of including “American” supports the notion of “Asian Americans as “not American”” (134).

Another stereotype of Asian Americans that Larson addresses is the “model minority stereotype” (135). Larson writes on page 135, “The model minority is hardworking and intelligent, but also docile and deferential. Asian Americans, according to this stereotype are successful, patriotic, and law abiding and have stable families”. Although this may not be seen entirely as a negative stereotype, Larson writes on page 135 that “the stereotype denies the discrimination and hardships experienced by this group by focusing on individual successes in the areas of employment and education”. Larson writes that it is difficult for individuals who may not exactly fit the “model” because they may not live up to the assumptions that all Asian Americans are high achievers.

Towards the end of the article, Larson writes about “The Asian American Parallel Press” (139). The Asian American press has had a long difficult history. It has been monitored by the government, requiring the news to be translated into English. Despite its difficulties, Larson writes on page 141, “...the Asian ethnic press supports the various Asian cultures and helps to maintain their respective communities, even in times of censorship and repression”.

Wakamatsu - Model Minority in Major League Baseball History

This article is about Don Wakamatsu, the first Asian American manager in major league history, hired by the Seattle Mariners. Although the article includes a statement by the Marines general manager commending Wakamatsu, there is nothing about Wakamatsu’s past, ethnic or social in terms of achievements, etc, and there is no statement from Wakamatsu himself. The article is, however, quick to point out that Wakamatsu was not the “fan favorite”. Even so, the article really says nothing negative about Wakamatsu. However, it is a very brief article for something that seems as major as the first Asian American manager in major league baseball history.

This article on ESPN’s website gives a more extensive cover of Wakamatsu. It especially covers his past and Japanese culture, including a brief history of his parents and how they grew up living in interment camps. Much of the brief history towards the beginning of the article is centered on the hard working characteristics of Wakamatsu’s close relatives. I suppose this was to support the fact that ESPN and others believe that Wakamatsu is extremely hard working and successful and will be able to hopefully bring some of his own personal success onto the Mariners who apparently have not been too successful in the past.

This final article is from the Seattle Times. Although this article again states the misfortunes of the Mariners in terms of major league baseball success, the author also states the hope that Wakamatsu is bringing to the team because he himself is respectable and successful. However, unlike the other two articles, this article mentions nothing about Wakamatsu’s ethnic past or even that he is Asian American or the first Asian American manager in major league baseball history. I find this extremely interesting especially because Wakamatsu is the manager for Seattle’s baseball team, the Mariners, and this is a Seattle newspaper. You would think they would have more pride in someone who is managing their baseball team.

In all, I feel as if the ESPN article did an exceptional job in describing Wakamatsu and especially his past. Although it was mainly about the success of his past and how that has contributed to his success as an individual, thus possibly supporting the “model minority stereotype” that Larson discusses, I do feel as if this article from ESPN shows a great deal more respect for Wakamatsu than the Seattle Time’s article does.

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