Earlier I reported that the AAJA had asked reporters "to avoid references to the race of Cho Seung-Hui, the student who killed 33 people at the Virginia Tech campus yesterday." A number of people have complained about them doing this, but they're still at it.
Media Advisory: Continuing Coverage on Virginia Tech Shooting
AAJA Shares in Litany of Condolences: Like the rest of the nation, the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) expresses its condolences to victims, survivors and their families and friends as they cope with the tragedy and loss of lives at Virginia Tech. The following advisory was issued to media on Tuesday, April 17.
Contact: Janice Lee, 415-346-2051, JaniceL@aaja.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SAN FRANCISCO (April 17, 2007) — Now that the identity of the suspected shooter at Virginia Tech is known, AAJA cautions the use of his heritage or immigrant status in news coverage.
We understand the need to research the background of Seung-Hui Cho (first name is pronounced "sung hee") and to provide details about him as a nation struggles to make sense of the horrific incident.
But we are disturbed by some media outlets' prominent mention that the suspect is an immigrant from South Korea when such a revelation provides no insight or relevance to the story. [Emphasis added]
The fact he is not a U.S. citizen and was here on the basis of a green card, while interesting, should not be a primary focus in the profiling of him. To highlight that suggests his immigration status played a role in the shootings; there's been no such evidence.
We remind the media that the use of racial and other identifiers must be accompanied with context and relevance. Without it, we open the door to subjecting an entire people to unfair treatment or portrayal based on their skin color or national heritage.
First of all, the idea that someone's race or national origin "provides no insight or relevance to the story" is a lie—it's incredibly relevant. A citizen of one country shoots 60 residents of another country, killing 32 of them and it's not relevant?
Anyway, relevance is not the Asian-American Journalists [send them mail] decision; it's the decision of the journalists and the readers.