MEDIA

Professor Paul Spoonley, Sapna Samant (Holy Cow Media Limited), Lincoln Tan (New Zealand Herald ethnic affairs, immigration and diversity reporter) and Gilbert Wong (Human Rights Commission head of communications)  Professor Paul Spoonley, Sapna Samant (Holy Cow Media Limited), Lincoln Tan (New Zealand Herald ethnic affairs, immigration and diversity reporter) and Gilbert Wong (Human Rights Commission head of communications) CREDIT: Massey University

Alternative Asian media alive in Aotearoa

Thursday 28 July 2011, 4:59PM
By Massey University
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New Zealand’s Asian community is being turned off mainstream media because of its ignorance, reinforcement of stereotypes and lack of understanding.

A lively panel discussion at the Albany campus heard last night how the Asian community was increasingly turning to the growing “alternative” Asian media.

Led by Professor Paul Spoonley, research director for the University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the diverse audience heard Sapna Samant, Gilbert Wong and Lincoln Tan discuss their experiences working with and within New Zealand’s mainstream media, and the impact of “alternative” Asian media sourced by New Zealand-based Asian migrants.

“We’re in the midst of a significant transformation of the media landscape,” said Professor Spoonley.

His research indicated that Asian communities were not consuming New Zealand mainstream media, but accessing their own media across a variety of languages – both from their country of birth and in New Zealand. The development of digital technology enabled communities to connect and reflect their own voices, but the downside was the lack of quality.

Ms Samant said ‘some are run like patriarchal feudal empires, have no critical discussion, and are inward-looking’.

Ignorance about Indian history and geography by reporters surprised Ms Samant, who had also been approached to comment on the assassination of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Gilbert Wong as a Herald reporter was tasked with reporting on why Asian drivers were so bad, and Lincoln Tan was dismayed at the lack of understanding of the various Asian markets and the power of audiences by media management.

The panel discussed the rise of Maori Television, and a comparison with Australia’s SBS channel pointed towards the need for more Asian reporters and editors to be employed by mainstream media. This would enable a more effective engagement with Asian communities to report on stories in a culturally appropriate way, and adjust the current Western-focused news filter.

The panel discussion was the second in the University’s 2011 Asia Hub Lecture Series.