FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Advisory: Continuing Coverage on Virginia Tech Shooting
SAN FRANCISCO (April 17, 2007) -- Now that the identity of the suspected shooter at Virginia Tech is known, AAJA [Asian American Journalists Association] cautions the use of his heritage or immigrant status in news coverage.
We understand the need to research the background of Seung-Hui Cho (first name is pronounced "sung hee") and to provide details about him as a nation struggles to make sense of the horrific incident.
But we are disturbed by some media outlets' prominent mention that the suspect is an immigrant from South Korea when such a revelation provides no insight or relevance to the story. The fact he is not a U.S. citizen and was here on the basis of a green card, while interesting, should not be a primary focus in the profiling of him. To highlight that suggests his immigration status played a role in the shootings; there's been no such evidence.
We remind the media that the use of racial and other identifiers must be accompanied with context and relevance. Without it, we open the door to subjecting an entire people to unfair treatment or portrayal based on their skin color or national heritage.
We at AAJA, representing approximately 2,000 reporters, editors, photographers and executives in the industry, encourage journalists to refer to style and reference books, both within their own shop as well as AAJA's at http://www.aaja.org/resources/apa_handbook/.