commentary by Tommy Sotmayor
Caledonian Record’s team spirit falls flat
Dear Mr. Todd Smith, Publisher, The Caledonian Record
No one can criticize the Caledonian Record for rooting for the home team. But we at the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) were appalled by the insert included in your newspaper to cheer on the St. Johnsbury Academy. “Fry Rice” caught the wrong kind of attention because of its racist undertones.
By itself, the slogan might be considered clever. But it became offensive when published in a typeface mimicking Chinese calligraphy.
A Wall Street Journal columnist summed up how seemingly inconsequential things like fonts perpetuate stereotypes. The column (found at http://on.wsj.com/LCaQYn) noted the “psychological toll from regular exposure to ching-chong babble, slant-eyed caricature, cheesy font choices and face-painted minstrelsy.”
We’ll assume that your use of that typeface was not meant to offend. But we’ll also assume that if that is the case, the Caledonian Record will publicly acknowledge its lapses in taste and judgment.
MediaWatch, AAJA’s watchdog program for fair and accurate news coverage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, stands ready to assist news organizations that have questions or concerns about covering our communities. As a resource, we offer this guide: http://www.aaja.org/aajahandbook.
President, Asian American Journalists Association
MediaWatch committee member