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from the Chinatown Partnership, to the Chinese-American Planning Council, the Renaissance New York organization, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Organization of Chinese in America, the Asian American Arts Alliance and the Museum of Chinese in America. "The goal of this project is to figuratively turn around the lens, to make it possible for people who are from Chinatown -- people who have a stake and a background in this neighborhood -- to bring their unique perspective to covering it," says Jeff Yang, the project's marketing and community outreach director, who lived on the Lower East Side and worked in Chinatown for several years. One of the things that makes the project unique is its emphasis on mobile journalism: OurChinatown reporters, assigned to cover Chinatown beats ranging from politics to business to shopping, will use camera-equipped smartphones as a primary newsgathering tool, filing stories, video and images from the streets of the neighborhood in real time. Eventually, says interactive director Paul Cheung, the project intends to make mobile delivery of news a priority as well, noting that cellphones and smartphones are ubiquitous even among recent immigrants to the neighborhood. "To serve primarily Chinese-speaking residents -- about half of the Chinatown community -- we're going to initially provide a 'best-of' feed of stories translated into Chinese, which will be available in mobile-optimized format," says Cheung, who grew up in Chinatown and attended the neighborhood's P.S. 24 elementary school. "We're also looking at producing Chinese-language podcasts that can be downloaded or streamed to phones." Experimenting with alternative ways of reporting and sharing news is a critical aspect to the project, which is the third of three Journalism Innovation demonstration pilots launched in celebration of the 15th Anniversary of AAJA's Executive Leadership Program, a professional development program that trains and challenges Asian American journalists to both advance their careers and expand the boundaries of the journalism industry. "OurChinatown is a unique undertaking in local news coverage," says Mae Cheng, executive editor of amNewYork, and the coordinator of the Journalism Innovation pilots for AAJA. "The project shows how it's possible to actively cover a community using readily available technology, while establishing a partnership with that community to ensure there's constant first-hand feedback on what issues its residents find important. We hope its success will lead to it being a model for other local news websites to emulate." In the meantime, the OurChinatown team is eager to see how active daily coverage of the neighborhood changes the way New Yorkers see Chinatown, and how Chinatown sees itself. "I grew up here, and this project has a deeply personal meaning to me," says OurChinatown staff reporter Pearly Huang. "It's a chance to give back to the community that brought me up, and to tell stories that are not normally told in mainstream media -- stories that you wouldn't hear about if you were a tourist." Fellow OurChinatown reporter Michelle Jiang agrees. "My great-grandparents first moved to Chinatown decades ago, and my family lived there for a very long time," she says. "I still have a lot of memories of being there, and I think with all the changes that Chinatown is undergoing, this is something the community really needs right now." That's because -- beginning with the tragic events of 9/11, and continuing with the outbreaks of SARS and avian flu in Asia and the recent global recession -- Chinatown has faced a series of ongoing disasters that have had a dramatic impact on the economic health of its businesses and the morale of its inhabitants. Page 198 of 201

May 2011  
May 2011  

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