Not too long ago, a headline made me swear out loud. That happens a lot these days, but this one made me want to cry. LA 18 KSCI announced its turn from its multi-lingual programming format to broadcast English infomercials. At various times, it offered programming in 14 different Asian languages such as Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Taglog, as well as Spanish, Armenian, French, Persian and more. LA 18 was how many immigrants in the Greater LA area were able to understand what’s going on in the community and adjust to life in America. It feels like an important part of LA life is gone.
Fast forward to last Friday. Despite being completely exhausted (more on that in a future post) I showed up to the launch party of Wapow, a free, bilingual quarterly publication covering news and culture in LA’s Chinatown. This was made in partnership with the Los Angeles chapter of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, a nonprofit that empowers Chinese Americans.
I haven’t been to the LA State Historic Park since it opened. But being in Los Angeles and seeing all the people who came out to support were very heart warming, and it helps that the new park is gorgeous. We were treated to copies of the first issue, free food, karaoke and a performance from the East Wind Foundation for Youth and Lion Dance.
Even though I wasn’t feeling well, it was very important for me to be there in the wake of LA 18 closing its studio doors to community programming. Media such as Wapow, Alhambra Source and many other multilingual outlets are important to the communities they serve. I created this blog because technology affects how people communicate, and in turn affects journalism. But there are still many who don’t have access to the Internet or a TV. There are also people who struggle to read in English. Community publications like Wapow allow for such people to know what is going on, and in turn feel invested in their neighborhood.
I’m happy that such publications exist, because creating civic interest and engagment is important. These publications are able to capture narratives that would be passed over at national outlets. Not every publication, after all, would run a transcription and photograph of a conversation with an old woman on the street. Yet in these neighborhood publications, doing such a thing might mean a lot to those being interviewed. It also gives the names and backgrounds of people in the community.
Since I’ve been working so hard lately, it felt nice to be around a community. I even got a chance to see my friend Quincy record audio for a potential future episode of Asian Americana I’m glad that the people of Chinatown has this available to them now, and hopefully it’ll give tourists a better appreciation of Chinatown’s place as one of Los Angeles’ oldest neighborhoods.
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