The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) condemns the use of “Chinese Virus to refer to COVID-19 or Coronavirus.
The global virus has been recently called various names such as the “Wuhan Virus,” and “Chinese Flu,” and the public has also witnessed President Donald Trump use the language “Chinese Virus.” According to a tweet by CBS News White House Correspondent, Weijia Jiang, a White House official referred to COVID-19 as the “Kung-Flu.”
This morning a White House official referred to #Coronavirus as the “Kung-Flu” to my face. Makes me wonder what they’re calling it behind my back.
— Weijia Jiang (@weijia) March 17, 2020
The tweet has been brought to the attention of many, noting the inappropriate and hurtful remarks that have been targeted toward Asians and Asian Americans. The term is not only incorrect, but also feeds aggressions and misconceptions regarding the community.
As the virus spreads across other countries, we have seen an increase in this aggression as the Asian American Journalists Association noted yesterday in a reply to Weijia’s tweet.
There has been a torrent of hurtful and racist remarks and actions targeted at Americans of Asian descent amid the coronavirus outbreak. AAJA denounces racism and xenophobia, and stands by our community and our members, including our very own @weijia. https://t.co/DTRshkr2tb
— AAJA National (@aaja) March 17, 2020
Using this type of vocabulary is inappropriate and can be very harmful to the Asian community. The Asian American Journalist Association made a call “to avoid fueling xenophobia and racism that have already emerged since the outbreak.”
Some people have argued that it is acceptable to refer to COVID-19 as the “Wuhan Virus” since it originated in Wuhan, China comparing it to the “Spanish flu.” Officials from The World Health Organization warned against calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” citing it could unintentionally lead to racial profiling. In 2015, they also issued a statement calling on scientists, national authorities and the media “to follow best practices in naming new human infectious diseases to minimize unnecessary negative effects on nations, economies, and people.”
NAHJ members should follow best practices recommended by WHO and AAJA regarding the covering of COVID-19. We are deeply hurt for our fellow colleges whose community is being targeted for the current situation.
NAHJ stands with Weijia Jiang and the Asian American Journalists Association. It is deplorable that the White House continues to use rhetoric that is offensive and completely misrepresents our communities.
NAHJ stands with @weijia and @aaja. It is deplorable that the White House continues to use rhetoric that is offensive and completely misrepresents our communities. #MediaDiversity https://t.co/1cVR0mLXFT
— NAHJ (@NAHJ) March 17, 2020
The following is the joint statement AAJA shared on Thursday, which NAHJ and other journalism organizations have co-signed:
JOINT STATEMENT DENOUNCING ANTI-ASIAN RACISM DURING CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK
March 19, 2020
From the Board of Directors of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), with the support of the Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS), National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), Native American Journalists Association (NAJA), and NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists:
The Asian American Journalists Association, along with our fellow diversity associations, denounces the escalating violence and rhetoric aimed at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, including journalists, amid the coronavirus outbreak.
In February, AAJA issued guidance urging news outlets to refrain from images and language that fuel xenophobia and racism. We are heartened to see comprehensive and thoughtful coverage from many news outlets, and are grateful for the hard-working journalists covering the outbreak and its impact on all communities.
But harmful language persists, including repeated use of “China coronavirus” or “Chinese coronavirus” despite guidance by the World Health Organization discouraging the use of geographic locations when naming illnesses because it could stigmatize populations associated with those places.
In this time of heightening tensions and fears, it is more important than ever that the media collectively gets it right so that we don’t give others, including politicians and the general public, an excuse to get it wrong. We also fully support and encourage journalists to continue to be vigilant in reporting the growing anti-Asian sentiment tied to the outbreak along with the rhetoric.
As always, we stand ready to be a resource to our members, fellow journalists, partners, and the public.
- Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA)
- Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS)
- National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ)
- National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ)
- Native American Journalists Association (NAJA)
- NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists
About NAHJ The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) is the largest organization of Latino journalists in the United States and dedicated to the recognition and professional advancement of Hispanics in the news industry. The mission of NAHJ is to increase the number of Latinos in the newsrooms and to work toward fair and accurate representation of Latinos in news media. Established in April 1984, NAHJ created a national voice and unified vision for all Hispanic journalists. NAHJ has approximately 2,300 members, including working journalists, journalism students, other media-related professionals and journalism educators. For more information please visit NAHJ.org or follow on Twitter @NAHJ.