Dear News Media, Stop Using Pictures of Asians in Your Stories About White People Getting Coronavirus
Just, Don't Do It!!!
The national and international picture when it comes to the spread of COVID-19 is constantly evolving. There are, as of this writing, 108 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the US. Six people have died from the disease here, all in Washington state. In Italy, 79 people have died, and there have been deaths in other countries like France and Iran.
The thing these countries and the United States of America have in common: they are not in Asia. The people dying from this disease are of all races across the world. So why are news outlets still using pictures of Asian people in masks in relation to stories about the coronavirus in the US?
Look at this nonsense. A tweet and story from the Wall Street Journal about safe practices while flying … witch a picture of Asian people on a train.
You should take many of the same precautions that you would take in other public spaces, but there are safeguards to keep yourself healthy in the air, too.
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) February 4, 2020
We don’t expect a lot of the NY Post but this is a particularly glaring example of this unfortunate “phenomenon.”
You’re using a photo of an Asian man in Flushing when the patient was identified as a Manhattan woman who traveled to Iran.
What gives, @NYPost? https://t.co/oh2mA2GKlv
— Senator Brad Hoylman (@bradhoylman) March 2, 2020
The Hill also used a picture of a man on the Metro in Hong Kong—a completely different part of China than Wuhan!—for a sensationalist tweet and no one was having it.
y’all need to stop using photos of RANDOM ASS chinatown aunties and uncles for your #coronavirus headlines especially when it’s about a SPECIFIC person becoming infected. THIS UNCLE WAS JUST MINDING HIS OWN DAMN BUSINESS BEING COURTEOUS WEARING A MASK. @thehill do the fck better. https://t.co/5onv3q7aqK
— Jenny Yang (@jennyyangtv) March 3, 2020
using this photo is extremely irresponsible and perpetuates harmful stigma against asian people. this isn’t even a photo of the NYC subway and the cases in new york aren’t asian specific https://t.co/7F5S3KKkVu
— gabe bergado (@gabebergado) March 3, 2020
It’s true: it’s incredibly damaging and dangerous to use these inaccurate pictures, just because the virus was first detected and spread in China. It is now a global issue, with patients and victims of all races and it is ignorant, harmful, and yes, racist to just use pictures of Asians in masks when discussing the epidemic.
From now on, let’s all use this photo to accompany reporting and discussions of coronavirus. Who is she? Dunno. Does she have the virus? Don’t care. But it’s just as relevant as any of these random images of Asians in masks that news outlets have been using. pic.twitter.com/QwdwWwR5kI
— Angry Asian Man (@angryasianman) March 3, 2020
As journalists we often have to use the images available to us on sites like Getty or from other sources, and it’s easy to just grab a picture of someone in a mask and post it (yes, we know we’ve done this too), but we need to be more responsible as this crisis grows and shifts, and do our part not to perpetuate harmful prejudices on top of the rising panic about this virus.
Be honest with your reporting and images. It matters. Just today, the LA Times reports that there is immense anti-Asian bigotry growing in America in response to the virus, which is completely unacceptable as well as utterly misguided.
“We’ve also seen a rise in racism toward Asian Americans because the virus is associated with China,” [Senator Dianne Feinstein] said. “This is unconscionable and it’s not the American way. People of all ages, races and ethnicities are susceptible to this disease. Bigotry toward any one group for a virus they have nothing to do with makes no sense.”
This is a global crisis and should be treated as such.
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