Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Possible Realities of Lao America Under a Trump Presidency

The editors of Little Laos on the Prairie and I recently completed an updated assessment of the possible shifts in US foreign and domestic policy under the Trump presidency that may extend well into the next decade.

There are some interesting questions ahead regarding trade, immigration, and creating a functioning society for all of our community stakeholders, particularly our most vulnerable citizens and residents.

For many in our community, they do not come from a strong news tradition that was not state-run, verging on propaganda. We've seen a lot of concerns raised with the rise in fake news sites and disinformation, or projects that undermine the trust in American data and analysis. As we continue our journey of post-war reconstruction, it is necessary for Lao and indeed, most Southeast Asian Americans to create a culture shift that lets our community have media justice.

This includes access to accurate and thoughtful information, which is more vital than ever to ensure good faith access and trust in the democratic process and the markets, both financial and intellectual.

In January, 2011 the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and Internet & American Life Project, in partnership with the Knight Foundation, conducted a nationally representative telephone survey of U.S. adults exploring local news consumption habits. They reported that "Overall, the survey indicated that most adults follow what is happening in their local communities and that the local news ecosystem is complex. Rather than relying on one or two main sources of local news, most adults use a wide variety of both traditional and online sources depending on which local topic they are seeking information about." Unfortunately, I'm not certain how well the reports were able to reach Southeast Asian American refugee communities, but I think the broad question is interesting, leading back to my concern over the last two decades of how we build an effective communications infrastructure internally and externally.

Another interesting report connected to this from the Knight Foundation was addressing the idea of "promoting greater civic engagement and investing in the capacity of citizens to engage with civic information and one another to solve public problems." It was one of the top recommendations made by the Knight Commission. Civic Engagement and Community Information: Five Strategies to Revive Civic Communication, a new policy paper by Peter Levine, "calls on community and elected leaders to adopt sensible strategies to strengthen civic communication and citizen engagement." How might that work for communities with ties to both the US and Southeast Asian nations where the principles of media are somewhat different?

There's much to consider as we move forward with the next steps for our community to share and exchange ideas.

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