Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) Media Advisory on Jeremy Lin News Coverage
In the past weeks, as more news outlets report on Lin, his game and his story, AAJA has noticed factual inaccuracies about Lin’s background as well as an alarming number of references that rely on stereotypes about Asians or Asian Americans.
Please give careful consideration to the following tips to ensure fair, accurate and sensitive portrayals of Lin and others who are Asian American.
AAJA and AAJA MediaWatch stand ready to assist any news organizations that have questions or concerns about news coverage and race. We all have the same goal: good journalism.
Stop to think: Would a similar statement be made about an athlete who is Caucasian, African American or Latino?
Use caution when discussing Lin’s physical characteristics, particularly those that feminize/emasculate the Asian male (Cinderella-story angles should not place Lin in a dress). Discussion of genetic differences in athletic ability among races should be avoided. In referring to Lin’s height or vision, be mindful of the context and avoid invoking stereotypes about Asians.
1. Jeremy Lin is Asian American, not Asian (more specifically, Taiwanese American). It’s an important distinction and one that should be considered before any references to former NBA players such as Yao Ming and Wang Zhizhi, who were Chinese. Lin’s experiences were fundamentally different than people who immigrated to play in the NBA. Lin progressed through the ranks of American basketball from high school to college to the NBA, and to characterize him as a foreigner is both inaccurate and insulting.
2. Lin’s path to Madison Square Garden: More than 300 Division I schools passed on him. Harvard University has had only three other graduates go on to the NBA, the most recent one being in the 1950s. No NBA team wanted Lin in the draft after he graduated from Harvard.
3. Journalists don’t assume that African American players identify with NBA players who emigrated from Africa. The same principle applies with Asian Americans. It’s fair to ask Lin whether he looked up to or took pride in the accomplishments of Asian players. He may have. It’s unfair and poor journalism to assume he did.
DRIVING: This is part of the sport of basketball, but resist the temptation to refer to an “Asian who knows how to drive.”
EYE SHAPE: This is irrelevant. Do not make such references if discussing Lin’s vision.
FOOD: Is there a compelling reason to draw a connection between Lin and fortune cookies, takeout boxes or similar imagery? In the majority of news coverage, the answer will be no.
MARTIAL ARTS: You’re writing about a basketball player. Don’t conflate his skills with judo, karate, tae kwon do, etc. Do not refer to Lin as “Grasshopper” or similar names associated with martial-arts stereotypes.
“ME LOVE YOU LIN TIME”: Avoid. This is a lazy pun on the athlete’s name and alludes to the broken English of a Hollywood caricature from the 1980s.
“YELLOW MAMBA”: This nickname that some have used for Lin plays off the “Black Mamba” nickname used by NBA star Kobe Bryant. It should be avoided. Asian immigrants in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries were subjected to discriminatory treatment resulting from a fear of a “Yellow Peril” that was touted in the media, which led to legislation such as the Chinese Exclusion Act.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
See AAJA’s “All-American: A Handbook to Covering Asian America”
The Asian American Journalists Association is a non-profit professional and educational organization with over 1,400 members across the United States and in Asia. Founded in 1981, AAJA has been at the forefront of change in the journalism industry. AAJA’s mission is to provide a means of association and support among Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) journalists; provide encouragement, information, advice and scholarship assistance to AAPI students who aspire to professional journalism careers; provide to the AAPI community an awareness of news media and an understanding of how to gain fair access; and, research and point out when news media organizations stray from accuracy and fairness in the coverage of AAPIs. AAJA is an alliance partner in UNITY Journalists of Color, along with the Native American Journalists Association, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association. AAJA is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. Tax ID #95-3755203. For more information, visit www.aaja.org.
Journalists Ji Hyun Lee, Ursula Liang, Danny O’Neil and Jay Wang contributed to this media advisory.
Washingtonpost.com: Jeremy Lin files application to trademark ‘Linsanity’
Espn.go.com: Our Jeremy Lin opportunity
NY Knicks’ Jeremy Lin on 2nd Sports Illustrated Cover and Time Magazine (Asia)
Linsanity: Sports Illustrated Cover Guy New York Knicks Starting Point Guard Jeremy Lin
Jeremy Lin Linsanity T-Shirts # 1 Seller at the NBA Store on Fifth Ave
Transcending: The Wat Misaka Story
New York Knicks to Honor Wat Misaka at Madison Square Garden
Other Articles by Lia Chang
Tony award-winning actor BD Wong stars in NBC’s Awake; video preview and interview
Photos: Working Theater’s Production of Rob Ackerman’s CALL ME WALDO at Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex through March 11, 2012
Photos: Larry Bryggman, Denise Burse, Peter Jay Fernandez, Tim Hopper, Arliss Howard, Kobi Libii, Mary McCann, Neil Pepe, David Pittu, Steve Rosen, Sheila Tapia, Debra Winger at Atlantic Theatre’s Opening Night of Gabe McKinley’s CQ/CX
Athol Fugard’s Blood Knot, starring Colman Domingo & Scott Shepherd in The Alice Griffith Jewel Box at The Pershing Square Signature Center through March 11, 2012
broadwayworld.com: Photo Flash: SPEAK UP CONNIE In Rehearsal
Photos: Yellow Fever Playwright Rick Shiomi Explores New Territory with An All-Female Cast
Photos & Video: Celebrate Chinese New Year with David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish
Fred Korematsu Becomes First Asian American in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery Civil Rights Exhibition
Remembering Civil Rights Leader Gordon Hirabayashi,1918- 2012
Photos: “How To Succeed” stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rose Hemingway and John Larroquette at Lord & Taylor for Windows Unveiling
Multimedia: Promises, Promises’ Stars Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes at Lord & Taylor Fifth Ave
Broadwayworld.com Photo Flash: Library of Congress’ IN REHEARSAL Exhibit
Photos: David Duchovny, John Earl Jelks, Amanda Peet, Tracee Chimo at Opening Night Party of Neil LaBute’s Break of Noon
Celebrating my mom – AN ACTIVE VISION: BEVERLY UMEHARA…LABOR ACTIVIST…1945-1999
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.
In 2010, the Library of Congress established The Lia Chang APA Theater Portfolio in the Asian Pacific American Performing Arts Collection housed in the Library of Congress Asian Division’s Asian Pacific American Islander Collection.
Lia’s portraits and performance photos have appeared in Vanity Fair, German Elle, Women’s Wear Daily, The Paris Review, TV Guide, Daily Variety, Interior Design, American Theatre, Broadwayworld.com, New York Magazine, InStyle, Timeout.com, Villagevoice.com, Playbill.com, Theatermania.com, Smartmoney.com The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Boston Globe, New York Times and Washington Post. A former syndicated arts and entertainment columnist for KYODO News, Lia is the New York Bureau Chief for AsianConnections.com. She writes about culture, style and Asian American issues for a variety of publications and this Backstage Pass with Lia Chang blog.
All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2012 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact lia at firstname.lastname@example.org.