By Assunta Ng
Who scored last week
Last week, Mayor Mike McGinn received two major setbacks. His leading challenger for mayor, Sen. Ed Murray, received endorsements from former King County Executive Ron Sims — who contemplated running — and the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE), a political organization sponsored by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
But I have to say; McGinn has definitely scored points with his new ethnic media strategy. What McGinn has done for the ethnic media is not something his predecessors had done before.
The ethnic media reception organized with the mayor’s support on June 25, introduced the ethnic media to many powerful city officials, including the City Attorney Peter Holmes; Interim Police Chief James Pugel; Diane Sugimura, head of the Department of Construction and Land Use; and many other mid-level managers who serve as department spokespersons and also make advertising decisions. Over 70 media and city representatives were present.
Bridging the gap
Coordinated by the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, the ethnic media reception was an attempt to bridge the gap between ethnic media and city officials.
Initially, some ethnic journalists thought that the meeting was one of those public relations schemes for the mayor’s reelection campaign. It did take place a month before the primary election, after all. I’ll be honest; I presumed so too.
However, the reception actually provided an opportunity for ethnic media to network with city officials about potential stories and advertising.
Mayor McGinn showed up and encouraged the city to engage ethnic media. The ethnic media might cover stories that the Seattle Times won’t cover, he said. His administration also recommended city departments to increase inclusive outreach by strengthening collaboration between City and ethnic media outlets.
The next day, his office sent out a press release saying, “consultants seeking to contract with the City on projects that include a community outreach component will be required to submit an ethnic media strategy as part of the request for proposals/qualifications.”
Ethnic media treated as second class
The ceiling of Seattle’s City Hall is hard to crack, especially for ethnic media.
David Cho, president of AAT-TV, said at the reception, “Ethnic media was frequently treated as second-class media.”
Ethnic media is sometimes barred from attending important press conferences when space is limited. Members of the Associate Press have preference to attend government events.
Cho said ethnic media tends to do everything themselves, and have to work hard to sustain the business, but ethnic media can also cover issues in native languages so ethnic communities can understand the essence of the stories.
Now and then
The last time I attended a McGinn’s ethnic and community media reception in 2011, it was a disaster. It resulted in controversy and bad press. The failure of that meeting was due to the fact it had no real purpose, other than chatting with the mayor and his staff.
This time, the reception was organized with a clear focus and goal: to help ethnic media and to encourage both the city and ethnic media to work together.
“(The ethnic media reception) was a good idea,” said Kim Pham, publisher of the Northwest Vietnamese News. “We need to raise our profile, get involved, and be respected. This meeting let us remind the City that it needs to share their resources with ethnic communities and media.”
Needless to say, the gathering also had a political agenda. In case McGinn doesn’t get the mainstream media’s endorsement, he can count on some ethnic media’s support for sure.
McGinn is taking a page out of Gov. Inslee’s book. Studies found that Inslee won in part because of his support from Asian and Latino voters. UW Prof. Matt A. Barreto credited Inslee with doing a better job of reaching out to and advertising with minority media.
Over the past three years, the mayor and his administration made several mistakes. But, eventually, he learned and has made several changes. He understands that his administration has the power to change lives and make a difference in the community. It’s clear that he and his staff have been doing a lot of thinking. This time, he and his team worked hard to do it right. (end)
To read the publisher’s blog in Chinese, visit www.seattlechinesepost.com.