Obituaries are not reserved exclusively for people. This week we mourn the passing of an institution: the Seattle Chinese Post. It is the latest victim of media trends that are decimating the local free press nationwide.
For generations, Chinese immigrants in Seattle largely relied on a bulletin board at the corner of Seventh Avenue South and South King Street to learn what was happening in their community. Then, in 1982, an enterprising former junior high teacher named Assunta Ng had the audacious concept of starting a Chinese-language newspaper in Seattle. It quickly became a cornerstone of the region’s Chinese community. A companion English-language paper launched a year later broadened its reach.
After 41 years in print, the weekly Seattle Chinese Post published its last edition on Jan 21. Its sister publication, the English-language Northwest Asian Weekly, ended print publication at the same time but will continue as an online news site.
Seattle should take a moment to celebrate what Ng, the newspapers’ staff and their supporters accomplished across the decades.
Ng was born in China, raised in Hong Kong and educated at the University of Washington after persuading her parents to let her study in America. She understood how a newspaper binds a community together and is foundational to America’s open, democratic society. Her first paper served Chinese immigrants. In their home country, they never met public officials, but in Seattle, they could. On the pages of the Chinese Post, they learned what they needed to know to become engaged members of their new community.
She launched the second weekly to serve American-born Chinese and eventually the wide range of Asian Americans here.
Ng wrote in her final print column about the changes that her newspapers helped bring about: “The Asian community, including the Chinese community, has risen above inaction, antipathy, or insensitivity towards their immediate and political environment. Their assertiveness is astounding. They realize that it doesn’t matter if their English is not good enough, their education level is not as high, or their income might not be above average. They have as much right as others to make their voices heard and participate in this country by voting and exercising their right.”
The papers covered the good and the bad within the Asian American community. That approach maintained credibility while helping break down societal stereotypes. All the while, Ng highlighted community issues, promoted Asian Americans’ involvement in public affairs and held public officials accountable. The print editions are a loss to be sure. But that important legacy continues online with The Northwest Asian Weekly. All the best.
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