AAJA Guidance & Resources
The Asian American Journalists Association is committed to empowering narratives about AAPIs and other journalists of color. Our organization works to equip journalists with guidance, resources, and opportunities to tell these powerful stories. You can take a look at these guidelines and resources listed, as well as find more information on collaborating with AAJA.
By contacting a subject matter expert from AAJA Studio, you can trust on their ability to offer crucial insight while also embodying the guidelines listed below.
Learn more about best practices that AAJA have listed out on effectively covering news stories.
Get in tune with what we advocate and promote through our news releases.
Connect your newsroom with a local AAJA chapter.
AAJA Guidance on Covering Anti-AAPI Violence
This guidance is an example of what AAJA produces to support our journalistic community. The coverage that viewers see on-air requires prudent practice to ensure that no story is misrepresented or excludes voices of color.
Names / Terminology / Coverage
- Double-check names, pronunciations, and faces as a general rule, but especially when covering communities different from your own.
- Avoid using gratuitous graphic imagery or videos of violence without thoughtful consideration of the value it adds to the story and coverage as it may traumatize or retraumatize Asian Americans.
- Be specific and descriptive when referring to violence and harassment aimed at Asians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Rather than using euphemisms like “anti-Asian sentiment” or “anti-Asian hate,” assess whether it is more accurate to use terms like “anti-Asian racism,” “anti-Asian bias,” “anti-Asian incident,” “anti-Asian rhetoric,” “anti-Asian violence,” or “assault against Asians.”
- Recognize that “hate crime” is a legal term that has limitations. Regardless of a crime or incident’s classification, motive, or intention, the impact on the community should be reported.
- Avoid assumptions, insinuations and relying on unverified sources. Institutional sources must be verified. Newsrooms need to consider: What is the relevance of your story to this shooting? What is the necessary context? What sources or resources are you using to inform your reporting, and are they verifiable or credible? Does this source’s assertion/judgment fully tell the story or inadvertently neglect other important factors of the full story?
- Diversify your sources by interviewing and quoting AAPI experts who can legitimately speak on behalf of the community. Build relationships within the communities on which you are reporting. Question the proximity of your source with the geography and communities featured in your story. AAJA’s speakers bureau, AAJA Studio, includes AAPI researchers, experts and thought leaders with expertise in civil rights, hate crimes, AAPI history, racial justice and community-building work, racial profiling and discrimination. AAJA Studio is not an exhaustive list of experts. We encourage reaching out to AAPI studies professors and scholars as well.
- Acknowledge and attribute credit to community media sources, and support the work of in-language and community media. It has come to our attention that some mainstream English media sources were using Asian language media as sources without proper citation or acknowledgement. Attribute credit to community and in-language journalism, which provide the service of journalism to immigrant communities often with fewer resources than larger newsrooms, while having greater access to communities that are underrepresented in mainstream media.
- Provide context about the 2020 rise in violence towards AAPIs, but also recall that violence towards Asian Americans and other people of color has existed long before the COVID-19 pandemic. We urge newsrooms to cover the violence in the context of the current rise in attacks on Asian Americans and heightened fear among AAPI communities across the country. Understand anti-Asian racism and invisibility and the long-standing stereotypes that have been wielded against AAPIs, or that have pitted AAPIs against other communities of color. Racism against AAPIs is highly nuanced, complex, and has rendered racism against AAPIs relatively invisible.
- Understand the origins of and the connections between anti-Asian racism and racism towards other communities of color. Consider how different aspects of identity and systems of power affect individuals’ unique experiences. Journalists should apply that intersectional lens to examine their own biases as well. Do not perpetuate stereotypes about AAPIs or other communities of color in coverage. Do not perpetuate anti-Blackness in coverage of violence against Asian Americans.
- Understand the specific experiences of anti-Asian racism faced by AAPI women. Take care to note the long history of hypersexualization of AAPI women, as well as the fact that sex work is a profession that may be an empowering choice for some or a choice by necessity. Regardless, it does not change the value of a human life.
Center community experiences and victims’ stories.
We urge proactive hiring of AAPI reporters and leaders in local newsrooms as well as at the national level. We urge newsrooms to empower and support their AAPI journalists and colleagues, while not relying on them completely to be total experts on AAPIs. Newsrooms must provide AAPI journalists with the necessary mental wellness support as our community faces increased anti-Asian violence and sentiment.