August 28, 2007
Dear Mr. Woo:
Thanks for being a long-time and very thorough reader of USA TODAY. We appreciate hearing from readers such as yourself, especially when you perceive our content to be unfair.
Although it was not our sense that the headlines were insensitive, we decided to check with an outside source as well. I contacted the AsianAmerican Journalists Association which has a Mediawatch Committee that reviews how Asians are portrayed in the media.
The group, chaired by Cheryl Tan of the Wall Street Journal, reviewed the story and headlines. Here is the entirety of her report:
“We discussed it and several of us had no issue with the headlines. Yes, many Asian-Americans still struggle with the sense that we are — and may always be — regarded as “foreign” and “other” but if this is a legitimate story, if this is news, you have to report it. We didn’t feel the headlines were insensitive in any way.”
Even though this group did not agree with your reading of the headlines, I appreciate your taking the time to call it to our attention. As standards editor, I like knowing there are careful readers who will question contents and help me make sure our coverage continues to be balanced and fair.
Standards and Development Editor
You may recall that I wrote USA TODAY to ask it to re-examine if the the use of the headlines were insensitive: “Law enforcement struggles to combat Chinese spying,” a front page top headline on its 7/23/07 issue. Then a “Against China’s tech spies,” title on its part 2 of the series of 2 Special Reports.
Not hearing back, a few days ago I sent a email chaser, which I shared with you. That same late afternoon, a reply from USA TODAY arrived, obvious sent before my chaser. The result was not satisfactory, but its methodology was very fair. I think we should close the chapter on this matter. One can’t win them all. If we follow up, it can ONLY be with Cheryl Tan of the AsAm Journalists Assoc.