March 17, 2021
AAJA Guidance on Atlanta Shootings 

Media Contact: Naomi Tacuyan Underwood, AAJA executive director, 

The shootings in Atlanta on March 16 killed eight people. Six of the victims were identified as Asian and seven were women. At least four of those killed were of Korean descent. 

The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) urges newsrooms to:  

  • Take caution with language in news coverage that could fuel the hypersexualization of Asian women, which has been linked to violence and discrimination. In describing the businesses affected by the shootings, newsrooms should avoid terminology and connotations of prostitution or sexualization. We recommend they be described as “spas,” “businesses,” or by their proper names: Young’s Asian Massage Parlor, Aromatherapy Spa and Gold Spa.

  • Provide context. We urge newsrooms to cover the shootings in the context of the current rise in attacks on Asian Americans. These shootings have come during a time of increasing attacks on the AAPI community, and heightened fear among AAPI communities across the country.

  • Diversify your sources by interviewing and quoting AAPI experts. AAJA’s speakers bureau, AAJA Studio, includes AAPI researchers, experts and thought leaders with expertise in equal rights, hate crimes, AAPI history, racial justice and community-building work, racial profiling and discrimination.

  • A local coalition of AAPI civil rights, advocacy, and direct service organizations have compiled a list of AAPI community contacts for media.
  • AAJA Studio is not an exhaustive list of experts, and we encourage reaching out to AAPI studies professors and scholars as well.
  • When more information emerges about the victims' identities, center their stories and those within the community. Please consult members of the AAPI community to ensure accurate spelling and pronunciation of Asian names.

  • Empower and support your AAPI journalists and colleagues. Newsrooms must provide AAPI journalists with the necessary mental wellness support as our community faces increased anti-Asian violence and sentiment. AAPI journalists are underrepresented in newsrooms across the country, especially in leadership positions. AAJA has compiled a list of mental health resources for journalists experiencing grief and trauma.

AAJA stands with our AAPI journalists, who have been subject to violence and discrimination over the past year and as anti-Asian incidents have risen during the coronavirus pandemic. Many of our journalists are pushing for — many times, quietly and without recognition — increased coverage of AAPI experiences. Many are experiencing compounding trauma while covering the violence. We commend their dedication and resilience. 

This is a developing story, and AAJA will update our guidance as necessary. 

— AAJA MediaWatch Committee
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