During the Democratic and Republican National Conventions Feet in Two Worlds worked with the New York Community Media Alliance to bring a group of ethnic media journalists to Denver and St. Paul to cover the conventions, the candidates and the parties. The following article was written by a member of the group, Jehangir Khattak, a free lance Pakistani journalist who reports for newspapers and radio in the US and Pakistan.
For more reports from the conventions by ethnic media journalists click here.
America’s minority communities are the driving force behind major economic sectors such as agriculture, service, hospitality, and construction. They fill the jobs common folks are unwilling to do, as well as create job opportunities through their enterprising skills. However, major parts of these communities remain in the shadows, and their contribution to the American dream is barely mentioned in the national media. Little wonder that mainstream media’s intentional or unintentional neglect of these fledging communities has created huge room for the ethnic press to take root and grow. According to the National Directory of Ethnic Media, there are more than 2,000 ethnic media organizations nationwide reaching out to more than 50 million Americans, or roughly one-fifth of the total population.
The demand for ethnic media is growing at such a pace that in New York alone there are nine different Urdu-language weekly newspapers. Nationwide, the number of Pakistani community weekly newspapers, radio and television channels has crossed the 20 mark. However, the strength and importance of this uncelebrated segment of the American media has rarely been recognized in the mainstream media. In fact the more the mainstream media ignores ethnic minorities, the more it strengthens media from these communities.
There has always been a need for organizations that could recognize, highlight and connect the ethnic media with the mainstream and build its capacity to market publications meeting the highest possible journalistic standards. It’s in this context that the New York Community Media Alliance and Feet in 2 Worlds sponsored journalists from the New York-based ethnic press to cover the DNC in Denver. The initiative proved to be more productive than many had thought as it exposed the ethnic media journalists, many of whom were covering a DNC for the first time, to the vast trove of information for their respective communities. For the first time ten different communities saw the convention coverage from their angle.
Not only that, the NYCMA and FI2W’s project had some impact on the mainstream media too. The New York Times “embedded” one of its reporters with our group of ethnic journalists to write about a story about ethnic media’s coverage of the convention. Thus the initiative not only generated several blogs, dozens of stories and radio interviews, but also mainstream media recognition of our efforts. The New York Times story could be the beginning of a nationwide mainstream media effort to pull the ethnic media out of the shadows and into the limelight, recognize its strength and utility, and enter into partnership to dig deep inside America’s immigrant population. NYCMA and the FI2W deserve full credit and accolades for the thoughtful intiative to empower a forgotten side of the larger American information sector.
Jehangir Khattak is a US-based Pakistani journalist, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org