The Most Underreported Stories of the Decade

December 31, 2010



Originally posted at New America Media.

by New America Media Staff

The last 10 years have seen unprecedented growth of ethnic media in the United States. Media serving the country’s immigrant and minority communities may be the new mainstream of American journalism, but many of the stories they cover still fly under the radar. Editors and publishers of ethnic media weighed in with their picks of what they felt were the most underreported stories of the decade.

Good News

The rise of community leaders, which didn't happen overnight. For many years, the United Farm Workers (UFW) and the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) were the major players when it came to community activism. In the last 10 years, however, community leaders have sprung up with little or no ties to either the UFW or MAPA.

Rufino Domínguez became an effective advocate for the region's growing Oaxacan community. Magdalena Romero became the unofficial spokesperson for mothers who gave birth to babies with defects in Kettleman City. Teresa de Anda led the fight against pesticide drift and cleaner drinking water in rural communities like hers in Earlimart. Pedro Ramírez recently "outed" himself as an undocumented student who is the ASB president at Fresno State University. Leonel Flores has pushed for Mexico to pay back money owed to former braceros. Immigrants in rural communities have united to provide aid in the form of money, medical equipment, fire trucks and such to their communities back home. This story remains underreported because not much attention is paid to the grassroots involvement of these communities, and how they have taken over to fill many community needs.
—Juan Esparza, Executive Editor, Vida en el Valle, Fresno, CA

There have been several achievements in the last decade that have been overlooked by the mainstream. At least on a local level, there are many Arab Americans who have achieved powerful positions, without any scandals. For example, Ismael Ahmed, co-founder of the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, was named director of the Michigan Department of Human Services a few years ago, and also Azzam Elder is the deputy executive of Wayne County, the largest in the state.
—Osama Siblani, Publisher, The Arab American News, Dearborn, MI

In my opinion the most underreported story in our community is the annual Fish Fair and Salmon Relay/Run. This is a 40-mile running course which actually starts by boat from the mouth of the Klamath River where the first salmon is caught and transported upriver for the ceremonial first salmon feast. There has yet to be any in-depth regional coverage of these events.
—Joe Orozco, Station Manager, KIDE FM, Del Norte and Humboldt County, CA

Bad News

The most underreported story is the drug problem in our region (Klamath-Trinity) which includes over nine communities and three Native American tribes. There is little in the way of communication among the local drug task force agencies, tribes, and news outlets. Most information is left to word of mouth and what people hear on their police scanners. The Hoopa Tribal Police Department does not have an information officer and sent out two press releases in the last several years, both under five sentences, and only at the request of our department.
—Lorencita Lavine, Managing Editor, Two Rivers Tribune, Hoopa, CA

The most underreported story is how Vietnamese businesses are hurting themselves, with price breaking, by not taking advantage of the business resources and education available to them, by not marketing outside the Vietnamese community, because an exclusively Vietnamese market is not going to help them make money in Seattle, WA.
—Julie Pham, Managing Editor, Người Việt Tây Bắc/Northwest Vietnamese News, Seattle

Nearly 10 percent of Indian immigrants in the US currently live in poverty. The fact that Indians in the US also have the highest average individual and household incomes is because those in the top tiers skew the average and hide the fact that so many Indians live in poverty.
—Richard Springer, Reporter, India West, San Leandro, CA

Particularly within the space of the Haitian earthquake, Jan 12 of this year, few news agencies have followed the effects of the disaster on local families trying to locate, reconnect with, or adopt their relatives.

Another example would be elders and the economy. With so many elders in assisted living spaces, but also charged with caring for grandchildren, few news agencies have examined how already-strapped populations are coping with disappearing resources.
—Shantella Sherman, Managing Editor, The Washington Informer, Washington, DC

David Vitter's attacks on the Hispanic community which he used as a platform for his re-election (as senator from Louisiana).
—Juan Carlos Ramos, Publisher, El Tiempo, New Orleans, LA

What Ethnic Media Could Do Better

Health issues are somewhat underreported, particularly the effects of the new health care law early this year.
—Dymphna Calica-La Putt, Editor, The Asian Journal, Las Vegas, NV

The environment and the new ways to promote more efficient energy use.
—Maritza Lizeth Felix, Reporter, Prensa Hispana, Phoenix, AZ

There should be more coverage on stories about Asian Americans defending their rights.
—Won Taisheng, Editor in Chief, World Journal, New York, NY

The most underreported story in the community has been how budget cuts have affected/will adversely affect black residents.
—Dorothy Rowley, Reporter, The Washington Afro-American, Washington, DC

Most of the Arab American newspapers rely on cutting and pasting information from Arabic sources on the Internet. Therefore they tend to focus on the Middle East. Few do local reporting. It’s often overlooked that Arab Americans live normal lives and face regular issues -- navigating school systems, paying the mortgage, finding jobs, getting health care, raising children, getting old -- and need information on these issues in their own language, too.
—Antoine Faisal, Publisher, Aramica Newspaper, New York, NY