Beyond mirroring the mainstream emphasis on gun control and mental health, ethnic community media also reflect perspectives that are more prevalent in newcomer communities. Some are shared among them - especially the perception that this was a hate crime - while others are specific to certain communities.
On Valentine's Day, MIREMS’ home state of Florida became the site of one of the world's deadliest school massacres, with 17 fatalities and 15 victims hospitalized.
While mainstream media focused on the course of events, the perpetrator's mental health, the FBI failure to follow up on a related tip and renewed calls for gun control, particularly from student survivors, MIREMS reviewed ethnic media’s response to the incident. MIREMS focused on the opinion, feature and editorial stories — amidst the flood of news stories — that shed light on how unique ethnic groups might experience the tragedy differently.
In the week after the shooting, we compiled 50 articles and broadcasts from the African American, Arabic, Caribbean, Chinese, French, Haitian, Italian, Jewish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Ukrainian media in Miami, Chicago, New York, Washington (DC), Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.
Opinion stories from all these ethnic communities advocated better gun control regulations. Frustration with prolonged government failure to act, making the government complicit with perpetrators, and the influence of the National Rifle Association (NRA) over politicians are especially palpable in Hispanic, Italian and African American media. Spanish dailies in Miami wondered: "How many times do we have to live through this nightmare? What is failing in the system so that we already have a total of 1,827 deaths and 3,142 wounded from gun shots at this point in the year?" (Diario las Americas, Miami, 16 Feb. 2018). "Once again, a terrible lethal weapon has fallen into the hands of someone who shouldn't have it" (El Nuevo Herald, Miami, 14 Feb. 2018). The Nuevo Herald also ran several articles criticizing NRA donations to politicians.
The sense of outrage with the lack of control on firearms was also felt in an Italian daily paper, La Voce di New York: "How did a 19-year-old orphan expelled from school with known mental problems get an assault rifle and keep it at home?" (15 Feb. 2018). The Afro-American Chicago Crusader pointed out it is "easier to buy a weapon of war in Florida than it is for a woman to get an abortion" and reported that "the NRA is actually investing money in teaching young people how to shoot" (16 Feb. 2018). Afro-American The Miami Times quoted Broward County Vice Mayor Mark Bogen reflecting on how "absurd" and hypocritical President Trump's visit to the victims is because his regulatory changes allow "allow mentally ill people to purchase guns" (16 Feb. 2018). Notably, not a single ethnic media source advocated against gun control or for arming school personnel.
The other common preoccupation in the ethnic media, like the mainstream, was with the perpetrator's mental health. A Spanish daily paper in New York spoke of the Department for Children and Families in Florida releasing a document about Nikolas Cruz showing that he suffered from depression, autism and ADHD, which they considered key to understanding the boy (El Diario, NY, 19 Feb. 2018). One of the national Chinese weekly papers reported that Cruz was an "outcast" who was "crazy about guns" (The Epoch Times, Los Angeles, 15 Feb. 2018). An Arabic weekly paper in New York reflected that "the most bizarre thing in the Parkland crime is that it was expected. The murderer had shown obvious signs of a disrupted psychological, social and family life." The article mused that America's emphasis on "individual freedom" allows everyone to carry guns and to choose their health insurance, which "has deprived millions of Americans of health insurance" and propagates the idea of arming good people to fight armed bad people despite its "obvious foolishness" (Al Hayat Newspaper, NY, 16 Feb. 2018). The national Spanish TV station Univision reports that the shooter's peers "were concerned about the comments he would make" and that Cruz "had been expelled from the school for bad behavior" (Univision, NY, 14 Feb. 2018).
While ethnic media shared concerns with the mainstream American media, they also reflect perspectives that are more prevalent in immigrant communities. Some are shared across communities, especially the perception that this was a hate crime. A Russian weekly paper notes that Cruz was a racist: " Despite his Hispanic roots, he hurled slurs at African Americans and Muslims and had ties to white supremacists" (Chicago News, Chicago, 16 Feb. 2018). One of the Spanish daily papers in New York ran multiple articles on how "Nikolas Cruz hated "Jews, Afro-Americans and immigrants" (Diario de Mexico USA, NY, 17 Feb. 2018) and "was member of a chat room where he expressed a desire to eliminate members of the Jewish, immigrant, gay and Afro-American communities" (Diario de Mexico USA, NY, 20 Feb. 2018). The New York based and nationally influential Jewish daily JTA also reported at length on how "Nikolas Cruz made anti-Semitic and racists comments in a private chat group" (18 Feb. 2018).
Other concerns are unique to one ethnic group. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, served an area that was 30 to 40 percent Jewish, forming a tight-knit local community. Five of the victims were Jewish. Jewish media focused on the vigils and funeral services in the community, as well as responses from community leaders including the sheriff and local rabbis. The national website Chabad.org reported: "Even after the bullets stopped—and the students and adults who were murdered were identified—Chabad rabbis in Parkland, Fla., say the tragedy in their community is just beginning to unfold. 'This is a small community, where nearly half of the population is Jewish, so everyone has been touched by what has happened,' Rabbi Shuey Biston told Chabad.org (15 Feb. 2018). JTA featured Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, the county’s first Jewish sheriff, who led the police response to the school shooting (15 Feb. 2018).
The Ukrainian media also presented a unique angle. In addition to calls for tighter arms control, Voice of America Ukrainian reported that Russian bots had "intensified propaganda" for gun control. " Two days after the tragic shooting at a Florida high school, a large amount of material in support of weapons ownership appeared on Twitter pages. These pages are linked to Russian accounts" (VOA, Washington, 16 Feb. 2018). This contrasts with mainstream reports like those in The New York Times that the bots spread messaging both for and against gun control in order to inflame divisions in the country.
An overview of diverse ethnic media shows that minority communities, who are so often painted as perpetrators but who also bear the brunt of violence in the US, tend to support stricter gun control as well as attention to mental health issues. In addition, they can offer unique perspectives, depending on location and ethnicity, which add value to social, political and economic analysis.
Theses perspectives are made available by careful curation and translation by MIREMS consultants who use their knowledge of both linguistic and cultural differences to perform cross-cultural translation.
Written by Silke Reichrath
As a year since Donald Trump’s first state of the union address rolled past, many ethnic and multilingual media joined mainstream outlets in commentary.
In Orlando, Portuguese source Nossa Gente in Orlando, said in an editorial that not much had happened since Trump took office apart from he being “An inopportune tycoon throwing handfuls of salt into the wound.” An editorial by Tomasz Bagnowski for Polish source, Kurier Plus in New York also criticized Trump’s negotiating abilities, saying “so far, no results.”
Russian papers spent little time covering Russian scandals in the US, but Chicago’s 7 Days ran an editorial saying that “Despite his very modest list of achievements, Trump fulfilled dozens of his campaign promises, revised the country's tax system, changed the U.S. position abroad and turned the life of hundreds of thousands of immigrants upside down.”
An interesting Editorial titled “Trump's way of ruling the United States; there's construction within destruction” in Chinese Sing Tao USA in New York comments that although people comment on his destructive side, “this year was not without achievements.” It continues saying “Trump is very different from the traditional image of a president of the United States. There's still no cover on his mouth. He competes with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un over who has a bigger nuclear war button, and he often posts shocking tweets in the mornings.”
Not to be one-sided Sing Tao USA published another editorial saying “When he was initially elected, many people had doubts about the radical policies he advocated or even thought that he was just saying things to please people. Perhaps these views are changing now - the reason being that, although they spark great controversies, many of his campaign promises are indeed being implemented.”
Urdu, which along with Arabic is the fastest growing language group in the US according to the 2015 census, has almost 400,000 speakers. As a result, their ethnic media is quite active, and also chimed in on Trump. The New York Awam was critical, mentioning the bans on Muslim countries and Syrian refugees. Chicago’s Weekly Pakistan News reported in a threefold increase in anti-Muslim groups since Trump was elected. “Against the backdrop of a highly publicized election campaign during which Trump frequently denounced Muslims and vowed to ban them from the country, both the number of anti-Muslim groups and the number of hate crimes carried out against Muslims has increased.”
Spanish sources spoke fiercely. A column in La Opinión, reacting to his State of the Union Address, said Trump’s presidency has been filled with “rancor, deceit, pettiness that obscured truth and lies.” It continues “since his taking office values of generosity, justice and leadership before the world were reduced to an authoritarian attitude, to a pathological narcissism: A fantastical reality.” The biting commentary is common among Spanish sources. A column by Mirabel Hastings in La Opinión called Trump “a tiger who never changes his stripes,” calling him “chief divisor,” criticizing his state of the union address as anti-immigrant, divisive and “vile.”
Whether Trump was opposed or supported, his presidency is impossible to ignore. Multilingual and diverse communities will continue to report on his administration: It’s their journalistic duty. The policies and legislation brought on by the government moving forward will affect these communities differently than those served by mainstream media. They will use local and national ethnic media to voice those differences, making them worth listening and paying attention to. Tapping into these voices is exactly what MIREMS does, and bringing them to you in an accessible and digestible manner is what we do best.
Written by Caora McKenna
Who's in your back yard? Do they want to unrig the system?
The battles and causes you champion are fought for in those multilingual and diverse streets across America. Understanding what is being said and reaching out in those languages gets your voice—and ears—on the ground with them.
If you want to sell, speak the language of the buyer.
MIREMS makes that language barrier transparent.
As a multilingual team, we bring a unique approach to linguistic and culturally diverse media research and monitoring.
From multilingual media research and analysis, to serious media monitoring and support for media outreach campaigns—we bring these voices to the ears who need to hear them, and help you deliver a response.
We're just getting started. Our first stop is the Unrig the System Summit in New Orleans this weekend. We are thrilled to learn more about how we can help #unrigthesystem.
More than one in five Americans speak a language other than English at home. From majority-minority populations in California to small but mighty Brazilian communities in Marlborough, Massachusetts, they make up part of 63.2 million American residents who think and speak and even work in a language other than English.
Over the past month MIREMS consultants dove into these communities via the newspapers and radio stations they use to communicate with each other and the world around them. The headlines that topped mainstream media stories found their voice in the immigrant communities they were talking about. The volatile navigation of immigration reform is having a big moment right now, and the country’s ethnic and multilingual media is certainly along for the ride.
Italian sources focused on President Trump and immigration. The Italian outlet America Oggi from Norwood, New Jersey says Trump’s “wedge politics” which are “pitting illegal aliens and Americans against each other,” keeps the Dreamers issue “controversial.” The source also had regular cover of Russia related issues, and Trumps state of the union address.
Smaller language groups wrote about their place within immigration reform. Chicago’s Polish Dziennik Zwiazkowy, with a circulation of 30,000, called for “The abolition of visas for Poles” as a “matter of honor and national pride.”
A column in a Korean outlet in Atlanta, The Korea Daily says that “a popular perception is that Trump's anti-immigration policy targets mainly Latinos - which is wrong.” The article says “the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been arresting Asian immigrants over criminal records as old as 20 years.” It continues saying “Asian rights advocate groups have been emphasizing that Asian immigrants must make a collective voice against discrimination, as the popular perception of Asian immigrants as a ‘silent group’ undermines their political power in the States.”
A Punjabi source in New York, The Daily Hamdard, joined the “us too” discussion, reporting that 40 percent of foreign born tech workers in Seattle, the home of Microsoft, are from India. Punjab Radio USA, broadcast out of San Jose, also commented on immigration reform noting that among the “6,90,000 undocumented immigrants, who came to the US as minors...are several thousand people of Indian descent.”
Vietnamese source Viet Bao from Los Angeles reported on the pockets of the labor force with large proportions of immigrants, namely construction. The article notes that while the “majority of immigrants originate from Latin America, Hawaii attracts mostly immigrants from Asia.” It warns of sweeping changes in immigration as right now “immigrant workers comprise over one quarter of the work force, the highest ever since the American Community Survey (ACS) first established its tracking records.”
Not to be forgotten, the Spanish media is robust: Sources in Florida and California have larger readerships that some of the country’s largest English publications. As headlines in the past month have been focused on immigration, unsurprisingly, the Spanish media has been highly critical of the current state of affairs. From editorials discussing the “cruel” treatment of Salvadorians in Miami’s El Nuevo Herald titled “In our opinion: The end of TPS demands a humanitarian solution,” to the Diario de Mexico in New York calling it “another hit” to an already troubled group, coverage of the Trump’s cancelling of the TPS was critical and empathetic. Articles offered advice and messages of solidarity.
As immigration remains on the forefront of national and local politics, these local multilingual, often immigrant run media will be paying close attention. The question is whether or not you should be listening to them, too.
Written by Caora McKenna