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2001

ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN "TOWN HALL" MEETING CONFRONTS GROWING DIVERSITY, MEDIA IMAGES

Free event part of Asian American Journalists Association's 2001 National Convention in San FranciscoSan Francisco

(San Francisco) - A panel of Asian Pacific American leaders, including Henry S. Tang of the Committee of 100 and Pulitzer Prize nominee K.W. Lee, will engage in a town hall meeting Aug. 4 to explore the conflict between growing diversity in the Asian Pacific American population and persistent mass media images that cross into stereotyping and ethnic scapegoating.

The public is invited to attend the free event - titled "Our Parallel Universes - Are We on a Collision Course?" - at San Francisco's Hyatt Regency Embarcadero in the Bayview A (Bay Level) room.

With a population of nearly 12 million Asian Pacific Americans, and the conflicts arising from national issues like the spy plane collision, hostility with North Korea, or India-Pakistan nuclear tensions, the topic is a timely one.

The 2000 Census figures confirm the changing diversity in the Asian Pacific American community that is only just beginning to affect news coverage. The session will address how that challenge can be met as well as ponder the staying power of old, racist images such as those recently dredged up in Touchstone Pictures' "Pearl Harbor." Audience participants, including members of the community at large, will be invited to participate in active discussion.

Findings of a recent nationwide survey by the Committee of 100 that one-fourth of Americans have negative feelings about Asian Americans raise questions about the adequacy of news coverage and media images in portraying the real, diverse character of Asian Pacific American communities.

ABC7ís anchor reporter Kristen Sze will moderate a distinguished panel of speakers. Since joining ABC7 in 1998, Sze earned a 1999 Emmy Award for best children and youth segment for "Spin-Out School," a story about a unique driving school targeting teenagers. Prior to ABC7, Sze was a New York-based correspondent for the television news magazine EXTRA.

The following panelists will lead the discussion:

∑ Sreenath Sreenivasan - Professor of journalism at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism, specializing in training journalists to speak the different media "languages." He is co-founder (and former president) of SAJA, the South Asian Journalists Association, a group of 800+ South Asian journalists.

∑ Lynette Clemetson - National Correspondent based in Newsweek's Washington bureau. Since joining the bureau in 1998, she has covered a range of national social and political issues. Clemetson, who speaks Mandarin Chinese, joined Newsweek in Hong Kong in 1996, where she worked first as a freelance writer, then a staff reporter.

∑ Sheila Chung - Executive Director of Hapa Issues Forum, a San Francisco-based non-profit with five chapters across California that provides multiracial diversity training to community-based organizations and leadership development opportunities to youth and individuals.

∑ Henry S. Tang - Chairman, Committee of 100 that originally stood for "100 strong, talented and prominent Chinese Americans," ranging from cellist Yo-Yo Ma, movie producer Janet Yang, architect I. M. Pei and University of California Chancellor Chang-lin Tien.

∑ K.W. Lee - Journalist/Commentator, Visiting Lecturer in Investigative Journalism, University of California, First AAJA Lifetime Achievement Award Winner. He is a four-time Pulitzer Prize nominee.

∑ Phil Ting - Organization of Chinese Americans, President (San Francisco Bay Chapter) & member of CARES (Coalition Against Racial and Ethnic Scapegoating).

∑ Glenn D. Magpantay, Esq. - Staff Attorney at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, where he is coordinates AALDEF's census and voting rights programs. His work includes monitoring the census and the count of Asian Americans, redistricting, bilingual ballots, Asian voter disenfranchisement, and multi-lingual exit polling of Asian voters.

The town hall meeting is sponsored by the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) as part of its 14th Annual National Convention, from August 1-4. The convention, which also celebrates AAJA's 20th anniversary, is expected to draw more than 1,000 members from 18 chapters across the nation and from Asia, as well as hundreds of industry and newsroom leaders.

AAJA (www.aaja.org) is a national non-profit educational association based in San Francisco, devoted to training and developing Asian American journalists and encouraging fair and accurate coverage of the Asian Pacific American community. It has 1,700 members in 18 chapters across the United States and Asia.

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