The Ethnic American Press: Cultural Maintenance and Assimilation Roles
Dodd Research Center Gallery
Curators: Diana I. Rios and Valerie Love
The ethnic American press has played a significant role in American journalism from the 1800s through the present. This exhibit presents an array of ethnic American newspapers from 1969 to 2008, featuring selections from the Alternative Press Collection at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center and the personal collection of Dr. Diana I. Rios, Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and the Institute for Puerto Rican and Latino Studies at the University of Connecticut. The newspapers in this exhibit showcase a range of ethnic media, including newspapers in various languages serving immigrants and Americans of a particular cultural heritage. English-language materials in the exhibit demonstrate cultural pride and cover news stories pertaining to ethnic and racial minorities which the mainstream media in the United States does not always convey. Muslim and Jewish presses are also included in the exhibit.
The usage of heritage language and the focus on stories that support the ethnic/cultural group are all part of a cultural maintenance media process in the United States. Ethnic presses provide space for the assertion of identity distinct from mainstream American culture. The unique content within these newspapers can support the nurturing goals of the ethnic group, which may be otherwise marginalized within American society, and thus be part of a cultural maintenance process. Yet, other types of content in ethnic presses, such as success stories of attaining the American Dream, can support assimilationist ideals. Ethnic press publications provide community information and advertisements from businesses owned and operated by racial, ethnic, and religious minorities to promote their services to others. Ethnic publications provide unique information and analysis that mainstream newspapers are not equipped to provide or are uninterested in reporting, and assist non-English speakers in overcoming barriers of culture and language.