Headline news demonstrates how wide of a culture gap exists between Western media and Asia. As Kai Ma writes in her insightful article in Time magazine “Culture Blaming and Stereotyping in the South Korean Ferry Tragedy,” lack of diversity in many newsrooms and the search for an easy answer has led to many articles labeling Korean culture as the culprit. Yet the same kind of accident in America would elicit a different response, one probably examining the safety procedures.
But to theorize that the high death toll is linked to a perceived cultural flaw or deficiency is a lazy journalistic shortcut. It fits a stereotype.
Culture blaming, as Kai Ma calls it, is an easy trap for even Asian Americans to fall into. For those who have grown up in the United States, what happens in Asia can feel quite distant. It’s often more comfortable to box situations into neat categories without realizing the need for vigilance on all sides.