NBC News Investigative and Consumer Correspondent Vicky Nguyen and NBC News Consumer Investigative Unit Coordinating Producer Jamie Nguyen discuss how they put together “The Racism Virus,” an NBC News NOW special report focused on the concerning rise in anti-Asian violence during the pandemic and solutions to racism and xenophobia. From finding a story angle to booking live guests, they break down what it took to make it all happen.
Coordinating Producer Jamie Nguyen shares how her AAPI experience informs and enhances her work in the newsroom:
As journalists we are taught to be objective, but we can’t always check our identities at the door. We bring to the table who we are, consciously or not. Our upbringing shapes our experiences. I am a first generation Asian American, born in the United States, the product of immigrant parents who fled Communist Vietnam.
In the weeks following the pandemic lockdown, I started seeing and hearing about Asian Americans becoming targets of physical and verbal attacks. That had a real impact on me. Growing up in Southern California and now living in New York City where there are large Asian populations, I felt safe and took it for granted. The pandemic changed that. For the first time, I questioned my safety and that of my mother, aunties, brother, cousins and friends. My fear for my safety and that of my family kept me awake at night and it wasn’t something that was going to just go away.
As journalists, our collective responsibility is to shine a light on societal issues and challenges in order to spark a bigger conversation and examination. In my role at NBC News, I started to pitch multiple stories on anti-Asian attacks with various angles early on. Sitting in editorial meetings, it was important to report what was happening and provide context to our coverage. It was also important to let the AAPI community know there was someone listening and paying attention. Their voices and stories matter.
I’m especially proud of The Racism Virus, a primetime special that I pitched and worked on with Vicky Nguyen and the NBC News NOW team. The hour-long conversation features a mix of community leaders and celebrities, including Jeremy Lin, Olivia Munn, Margaret Cho and Nobel Prize nominee Amanda Nguyen.
It’s just one example of why diversity matters. The newsroom needs to reflect the communities it serves and highlight issues that aren’t always on everyone’s radar to give it the attention it deserves.