The Year in Other News

NAM Staff


From our content partner New America Media:


Ed. Note: For news headlines, 2013 didn’t disappoint. From ongoing violence in the Middle East to the rollout of landmark health care reform here at home, the ascension of a new pope and the passing of an international human rights icon, the year’s tumult was splashed across news Websites and front pages worldwide. But for U.S.-based ethnic media, there were other stories that – while less reported – hit closer to home. From Michigan’s Arab American community breaking the silence around sexual harassment, to Japanese and Korean American disputes over a Southern California memorial honoring women forced into sexual servitude during WWII, the impact of drought on feral horses on Navajo land, and the hopes of African Americans for education reform in Memphis, these stories and others identified by ethnic media editors and reporters sent ripples across immigrant and ethnic communities that will surely continue to play out in 2014.


Allegation Brings Sexual Harassment Into Focus For Michigan’s Arab American Community


While much of the media attention this year focused on Syria’s ongoing civil war and the political chaos in Egypt, for Michigan’s Arab American community the story that really got folks talking involved allegations of sexual harassment leveled at the head of the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the largest national Arab American civil rights group. Reporter Natasha Dado, who covered the story for Arab American News, said the real impact of the scandal was that it started "a conversation in the Arab American community about sexual harassment,” resulting in the formation of a coalition on the issue. “For the first time, you’re hearing the Arab American community talking about sexual harassment, with some Arab American men standing behind them,” Dado said. “Racial discrimination – they’ve tackled that, now they are tackling sexual harassment.”


The ‘Broken Dream’ of Immigration Reform


The struggle to push forward with immigration reform consistently topped headlines in Spanish-language press throughout much of the year. Rodrigo Cervantes, editor for Mundo Hispánico in Atlanta, says 2013 left advocates both frustrated and emboldened. “On the one hand, you have a movement that, despite having become stronger, is morally deflated by the end of the year. And, on the other hand, you have the story (or stories) of a group of young people [Dreamers] who understand the U.S. system … while also comprehending the struggle and the reality that undocumented families face everyday.” Cervantes says the year that was “might well be remembered as one of the pivotal moments for the immigrant rights movement.”


Devastated: Fil-Am Media Cover Typhoon Haiyan


For Filipino media, that one word – devastated -- summed up 2013. The havoc caused by Typhoon Yolanda (or Haiyan), one of the strongest tropical storms ever recorded that barreled through the central region of the Philippines on Nov. 8, captured the attention of Filipino-American media in the days and weeks following the disaster. The monster storm has to date claimed more than 6,000 lives, injured close to 30,000 and displaced more than 4 million. In the first few days after the typhoon, Balitang America of The Filipino Channel interviewed Filipinos in Arizona originally from Tacloban City, ground zero of the storm. Amid widespread reports of the Philippine government’s “slow, inefficient, relief work,” Fil-Am Star wrote about how aid response was improving in the affected areas. And highlighted the resiliency of the Filipino people in the face of the disaster.


Education Reform Tops Agenda for African Americans in Memphis


Memphis, Tennessee, a majority African-American city, is a major focal point for what many educators and education watchers often call "education reform," writes Karanja Ajanaku, executive editor for the Tri-State Defender. And while some quibble with that term, there is no doubt that many are looking to see what evolves from the convergence of need and opportunity. Amid that change, Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools are going through one of the largest mergers of school systems in U.S. history. Having the right captain for the newly merged school system will greatly impact the future of students - generally and specifically - and the city as a whole.


Brutal Murder Shocks NY’s Chinese Community


New York’s mayoral race was certainly attention-grabbing, no less so for the city’s Chinese community, which closely followed the campaign of City Comptroller John Liu, the first Asian American to run for the office. But reporter Rong Xiaoqing with the Chinese-language Sing Tao Daily says the real shocker of the year was the murder in October of an immigrant Chinese family in Brooklyn that left five dead, including four children. “It was the brutality of the killing that was most shocking,” explained Rong, whose paper gained an exclusive interview with the father, the lone survivor of the attack. “Apart from the brutality, the case highlights the plight of many newly arrived immigrants who suffer from mental health illnesses,” added Rong.


Navajo ‘Being of the Year’ – The Feral Horse


Forget Pope Francis and Edward Snowden. For editors at the Navajo Times in Arizona, the Person – or Being in this case – of the Year Award goes to the feral horse. Extreme drought exacerbated the plight of the area’s growing feral horse population. Candice Begody is senior editor with the paper. “There were too many horses and not enough grazing area,” she explained. “We had horses trying to get to water … one image showed a horse that had sunk into a dry lake. It was basically dying.” Begody said no other story garnered the same attention. “We had traditionalists on one side arguing the horses were sacred” squaring off against tribal government officials pushing for the roundup and slaughter of the horses for the sake of the environment.


Comfort Women and Asiana Flight 214


While international headlines honed in on the succession of North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong Un, for readers of the Korea Daily in Los Angeles a memorial in Glendale dedicated to the estimated 200,000 women – many of them Korean – forced into sexual servitude by the Japanese government during World War II topped the list of most important news items in 2013. Nicole Chang is the paper’s editor. She says the fact that the city government got behind the memorial really rallied members of the Korean community. Glendale has a sister city relationship with the Japanese city of Higashiosaka, a fact that has added to the controversy over the memorial. Oakland-based Korea Times, meanwhile, pointed to the crash of Asiana Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport as the most important story for its readers. Editor Nam Hong said the fact that many of the passengers were Korean Americans who lived in the local community meant the story “hit close to home.”


Glendale Memorial Stirs WWII-era Controversy, Splits Japanese American Community


Like their Korean American counterparts, editors from the L.A.-based Japanese American newspaper, Rafu Shimpo, cited the Glendale memorial honoring the “comfort women” as the story that sparked the most controversy. Rafu Shimpo reported on the unveiling of the memorial, an event that editor Gwen Muranaka said caused "quite a stir up in our local paper." The memorial’s inscription refers in part to Congressional legislation (H.R. 121) drafted by Rep. Mike Honda of San Jose, which calls on the Japanese government to accept historical responsibility for these crimes, something it has yet to do. Muranaka said the city’s Japanese American community was split on the issue.


Suicide and Indian Americans


“Stressed, depressed, but who’s listening?” That’s the subtitle to India West’s investigation into suicides among young South Asians, by reporter Sunita Sohrabji. Editor Bina Muraka says mental health is not a topic typically discussed within the community, adding that the article “brought the issue into the open and has since spurred an important dialogue.”


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