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Recent letters to [email protected] to address Asian American coverage

March 27, 2021

Prior to Tuesday’s letter, a group of faculty and staff across NU’s campuses nationwide had sent two letters to [email protected], according to an anonymous source who worked closely on both letters. Each letter had roughly 20 to 25 signatures from faculty and staff, the source said.

The first letter, the source said, was sent near the end of February. It addressed [email protected]’s lack of coverage on the hate crimes against the Asian American community due to COVID-19 over the past year. 

“We’re here, and we’re not invisible,” the source said. “A lot of folks in the community did not feel seen or heard. [email protected] has a voice to bring this to light, and we were disappointed that they had not done that yet.”

The second letter was sparked in reaction to a March 2 [email protected] article about anti-Asian hate crimes, which did not include a single Asian American voice. The anonymous source said several faculty and staff members felt that the article was “poorly written” and lacked representation.

How could you represent the thoughts of the community without talking to any members of the community?”

— Lawrence Deng

“Sure, [the sources] might be experts in their fields, but there was just no representation from the Asian American community,” the source said.

Blaufox also said she thought the article was “incomplete” and even sent a personal response to [email protected] about the lack of Asian representation and proper consideration for the community’s input. Deng said he felt the same.

“How could you represent the thoughts of the community without talking to any members of the community?” Deng said.

Following both letters, the anonymous source said that the responses from [email protected] were similar in language and did not properly address their concerns. Rather, the source said it felt like a “simple statement” that discussed how [email protected] works hard to cover relevant issues. 

“There was no real redress for the issues we brought forward,” the source said. “It just lacked any real compassion or sensitivity to the issues. It was just an empty response.”

On March 22, [email protected] published another piece about the topic. This time, it featured two Asian American sources: Blaufox and Northeastern University School of Law professor Margaret Woo. 

Michael Armini, senior vice president of external affairs, said in a statement to The News that [email protected]’s coverage in both articles was “flawless.”

“This is an award-winning news organization and their coverage on this has been flawless,” he said in a statement. “The first article featured two very accomplished faculty experts offering their insights, and the second article showcased a variety of Asian voices.”

Armini also noted that [email protected] does not take race into account when seeking out expert sources.

“When the news team seeks out faculty experts to comment on their areas of research, they don’t impose any kind of racial or ethnic screen,” the statement said. “I hope no one is suggesting that we start doing that.”

The anonymous source said that they appreciated the representation in the second article and that it should continue thereafter.

“It was a big improvement from the first one,” the anonymous source said. “But there needs to be consistency across the board when it comes to addressing issues that particularly impact communities of color.”

Woo said this article from [email protected] was a good start to highlighting Asian American issues and that she wishes to see more coverage of the like. 

“My hope is that this [article] is only the beginning and that there will be additional inquiries and articles in the future,” Woo said. 

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