Mike Pesca’s Linsanity Points Are Worth Repeating

I just wanted to reiterate some great points that NPR’s Mike Pesca made this week about how journalists negotiate the issue of Jeremy Lin’s racial and ethnic background.

Jeremy Lin (Courtesy: NBA)

One of my favorite radio programs, On the Media, this week tackled the issue of the media’s fascination with New York Knicks point guard of Jeremy Lin and the sometimes clumsy manner reporters address Lin’s Asian American heritage.

Instead of listening to the podcast as I do most weeks, I heard this segment in the car as I was running errands today.

But, before I could gather my thoughts to weigh in on what I thought was a great segment featuring National Public Radio’s Mike Pesca,  I learned ESPN.com had become the latest news outlet to stumble in reflecting sensitivity in covering those from diverse racial or ethnic backgrounds.

Mike Pesca, NPR

You can read my thoughts about two “Chink in the Armor” references on ESPN’s outlets over on the Society of Professional Journalists’ Diversity blog.

Here, I just wanted to reiterate some great points that Pesca made this week about how journalists negotiate the issue of Jeremy Lin’s racial and ethnic background.

“Just because someone talks about race doesn’t mean that that motivation about that person is racist,” Pesca told Brooke Gladstone on this week’s broadcast.  “It’s totally legitimate to note that’s he’s the first Asian American in the NBA in over fifty years. ”

Pesca likened the excitement about Jeremy Lin in the Asian and Asian-American community to the excitement about Tiger Woods in the African American community.

“I see it along the lines of a positive Asian American or ethnic celebration,” Pesca said.

But, this time this particular Asian American has made headlines in a sport that Pesca recalls is about 75% African American.

But, that’s not the only reason it’s newsworthy WHO is making the baskets for the New York Knicks.

James Fallows, veteran correspondent for The Atlantic, curated some of the best ideas  on the social scientists ideas about Asian behavior and the Asian basketball scene.

In addition to listening to Mike Pesca, I would recommend reading his piece on”The Meaning of Lin.”

“From a cultural, social, business, and individual perspective, every aspect of Jeremy Lin’s identity adds to the fascination,” Fallows said.


According to Pesca, there are FOUR (4) Elements that make the Linsanity a news story and not just a sports story:

  1. Lin went to Harvard
  2. Lin is Asian American
  3. Lin is in a group that would normally be cut from the team.
  4. Lin is playing in New York City, the media capital of the world

Author: George Daniels

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama. After spending eight years in the local television newsroom working as a producer at stations in Richmond, Virginia; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia, Daniels moved from the newsroom to the classroom. He’s conducted research on diversity issues in the media workplace and change in the television newsroom as well as media convergence. Before going to work in television news, Daniels worked briefly as a freelance writer for The Richmond Free Press in his hometown of Richmond, Va.

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