Campus: CSU, Fullerton -- April 19, 2000

Vietnamese Americans and the Media: The First 25 Years

An assessment of Vietnamese immigration, and immigrants' use and perceptions of news media in Orange County, is the focus of a study released Wednesday by three researchers from the Department of Communications at California State University, Fullerton.

Professors Jeffrey Brody, Tony Rimmer and Edgar Trotter surveyed 418 Vietnamese Americans as part of a national study for the Ford Foundation. The researchers examined levels of participation in the 1999 video store protest in Little Saigon, the acculturation patterns of immigrants, their media perceptions and attitudes, and changes in feelings toward visiting or returning to live in Vietnam.

The professors found the community divided about the protest. Media use and the level of acculturation proved to be determining factors in describing who participated in the demonstrations at the Hi-Tek video store. Some 56 percent of the respondents said they had participated in the demonstrations and 44 percent said they had not.

Protestors were found to use news media more than did nonprotesters. And, they rated Vietnamese-language media more favorably on an index of coverage of the Hi-Tek incident than did nonprotesters. On the other hand, nonprotesters rated English-language media coverage of the incident more favorably than did protesters.

A strong attachment to Vietnamese culture was found. Almost 90 percent of the respondents said they felt more Vietnamese than American, and 62 percent said they would return to live in Vietnam, if Vietnam were free and democratic. Some 40 percent of the respondents said they have visited Vietnam, a figure double that in a Cal State Fullerton survey conducted in 1995. About two-thirds are more comfortable speaking Vietnamese than English. Less than 10 percent socialize more with non-Vietnamese than people of Vietnamese origin.

The researchers also examined whether the Vietnamese community has received stereotypical coverage from the mainstream or English-language press. An analysis of stories published in The Orange County Register and Los Angeles Times determined that a significant number of the stories written about the Vietnamese community and Little Saigon contained references to food, festivals and crime.

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