Celebrating AAPI journalists and news media

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More than 40 years ago, the United States first celebrated the heritage of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) with a commemorative week in May 1979. But this year, amid disturbing violence and abuse targeted at Asian-Americans, immigrants and other people of color, appreciating the culture and contributions of the AAPI community is more important than ever.

image of maria ressa speaking at an event

Photo credit: Franz Lopez on Flickr, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

For Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, NLP is highlighting AAPI journalists and news organizations — past and present — on social media. We begin with Rappler co-founder and CEO Maria Ressa. She received the 2021 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize on the eve of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. Ressa, a Filipina-American journalist, and her team continue their unflinching coverage of President Rodrigo Duterte’s authoritarian rule in the Philippines despite harassment, threats and jail time. In 2020, Ressa was a guest on NLP’s podcast Is that a fact?, where she discussed her work and why she presses on despite the risks. “… you don’t wake up and you say, ‘I’m going to fight for press freedom.’ I never did. I just did my job,” she told us.

Important AAPI milestones

So why is May Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month? The U.S. Congress selected this time of year to celebrate the AAPI community because of important milestones. “The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants,” according to the Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month website. Educators will find lessons plans and other classroom-ready resources for teaching about AAPI heritage on the site.

And be sure to follow our thread on Twitter throughout the month as we focus on the impact of AAPI journalists and news organizations @NewsLitProject.

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