New America Media, the country's first and largest national collaboration of and advocate for more than 3,000 ethnic news organizations, will receive CLCV's Environmental Leadership Award this week in San Francisco.
New America Media (NAM) is dedicated to bringing the voices of the marginalized -- ethnic minorities, immigrants, young people, elderly -- into the national discourse, so that the communities of the "New America" are better informed, better connected to one another, and better able to influence policy makers on a variety of issues, including the environment.
NAM's commitment to covering the environment and training its member journalists to cover environmental issues has expanded in recent years. Just one current series, "Surging Seas", is a multimedia, collaborative reporting project involving six Bay Area ethnic and community media on the local impacts of sea level rise. In addition to New America Media, project partners include Sing Tao Daily, Telemundo, KALW-FM, Oakland Local, Richmond Pulse, KTSF-Ch 26, Climate Central, Stamen Design, and Investigative Reporters and Editors.
A sampling of headlines from recent environmental coverage by NAM partner organizations and journalists include "Groundwater Depletion Increases Earthquake Risk," "African American Exposure to Pollution Greater than Whites," "California County Could be State's First to Ban Fracking," "Drought Brings Hard Times to California Ethnic Farmers," and "Who Pays Most for California's Energy?"
Founded by the nonprofit Pacific News Service in 1996, New America Media is headquartered in California, with offices in New York and Washington D.C., and partnerships with journalism schools to grow local associations of ethnic media. Over 57 million ethnic adults connect to each other, to home countries and to America through New America Media's 3,000-plus ethnic media outlets: the fastest growing sector of American journalism.
In the beginning, Pacific News Service (PNS) editors convened 24 ethnic-media journalists who came up with the idea of "an Associated Press" of ethnic media. In 1995, then-PNS executive editor Sandy Close won a MacArthur "genius award" and used the funding to help start New California Media, which went national as New America Media 10 years later:
Koreans in Oakland wanted to know what it was like to be Hispanic in San Jose; Hispanics wanted to know what it was like to be Vietnamese in a Spanish-speaking neighborhood...
A staff of editors fluent in various languages and cultures—Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Hindi, Arabic, Spanish, African American—monitor the media serving those audiences, summarizing and translating stories. NAM also produces its own stories.
Twenty-first century journalists have to "walk on two legs," Close says, both producing content and generating revenue to support it. NAM has had the most success persuading foundations to support collaborative journalism, like a recent tour for 12 ethnic journalists to learn about toxic hazards on Navajo and Hopi reservations.
But NAM has expanded far beyond an AP for ethnic media; that comparison no longer adequately captures NAM's broader vision of a national ethnic-media collaboration. NAM coordinates an astounding number of activities, including awards and expos, journalism school partnerships, newsmaker briefings, seminars and workshops for professional development, a National Directory of Ethnic Media, polling of "New America" populations (notably ethnic groups), and helping to channel millions of advertising dollars to ethnic media.
CLCV is proud to present New America Media -- champions for California's and our nation's diverse populations and for protecting our environment -- with our Environmental Leadership Award this week in San Francisco.