Media outlets are churning out their end of the year lists — lists about the year that we are running from and lists about the new decade we hope will bring bluer skies. To this end, we posted our annual Ten to Watch list yesterday. The 2010 list was one of the most difficult yet, for the first time, there were too many names to choose from. Asian Americans’ impact on our world — whether in the arts, politics or in corporate America — has increased significantly over the past two years since East West was away.
It makes our editorial task certainly more daunting. On a regular basis, this list aside, we have to think more outside the box to keep our focus fresh. Sure, we are lucky that there isn’t a lack of material, but when things become common, even if it is a good thing, how do you stand out from the crowd? What makes our stories on an up-and-coming Asian American figure different than those covered by mainstream, daily news outlets?
Surely, our unique voice makes East West different, but what more can we do? What do we need to change now as our niche is shifting? I will be stewing on this over the holidays as we ready for 2010, and I’d love to hear your thoughts. In the meantime, check out our annual Ten to Watch.
I’ve said it before, reader interaction is one of my favorite parts of the job. But sometimes, I don’t know quite how to respond. Here’s an email I got last Friday. A nice chuckle after a long week….
So exciting to hear East West Magazine is back. I just had a random thought and I would like to get your insight on this. So me and my cousin were just taking about how in magazines they have pictures of girls that are so flawless, and to not make them seem so “perfect” they give them a unibrow. Why is that? I have stitches on my forehead it’s not bad, it’s who I am. So would they cover that? What happen to natural beauty?
I lost her at unibrow. Our team has never dared to give a model a unibrow. Who knew that that was the badge of “real” beauty?
On a serious note, I agree with the gist of this reader’s message. Magazines do need to feature more depictions of real beauty. This has been done well by several women’s magazines already. But it needs to be more organic, rather than always a concerted effort or a special campaign. Can it be the norm? Could we do it at East West? I am not sure. I wonder if we, as a community, still need to see the high fashion, model-perfect glam? Are we looking for the fantasy in a time of rough reality? I am inclined to think that fantasy might sell more copies overall. But does that make it right?
Oh, and who needs a first name? Surnames will do just fine.
Today marked the news that Jay Sean, a Punjabi/Indian rapper out of the UK, officially had the number one song on the Billboard Hot 100. Another South Asian or Asian first.
It is days like these that I get a bit giddy. I’m suddenly surrounded by renewed energy and sense of purpose. This little mag I created back before the multicultural mix of East West was fully embraced, is now finally ready to shine.
But it is days like these, that I also feel a little small and overwhelmed. How can we compete? Now that “East West” news has been adopted by mainstream outlets, how can we stay ahead of the news, ahead of the curve and make our delivery, our understanding of this growth sector the strongest, the best, the most unique?
I felt the same mix of emotions when Judy Chu was elected to Congress representing California, when Kal Penn went to work in the Obama administration, when Slumdog took over the world… The list of these milestone moments for Asian American faces is growing so rapidly lately, I’ve sometimes felt we can’t keep up.
But, I reminded myself this morning, after about an hour of intermittent pacing and anxiety about not feeling like one of the “cool” kids, that the important thing is that we remember our mission and purpose. East West is not here to deliver the “news.” Sure, with the Web site, we could specialize in breaking news. But that isn’t our thing. And our readers don’t need us for that. Mainstream daily news outlets, wire services, etc, fulfill that need just fine. We are here to provide that unique perspective of what these blips on the national news radar mean to our cultural environment, to the growth and strength of a community, to the way we live our everyday lives.
So for the next issue, perhaps we will talk to Jay Sean. I’m calling his publicist now. We’ll just have to put our unique perspective on the story. We don’t rush out the news, we are here for the story. Thanks for the reminder.