Is ‘Lin-sanity’ fueling stereotypes in journalism?

The sudden and unexpected breakout of New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin has thrust the sports media, and even popular culture world, into frenzy.

It started on Feb. 10, when the Taiwanese Harvard graduate posted 38 points against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, a performance that made him an overnight sensation.

My description of Lin plays into the argument Poynter’s Tom Huang is trying to make: that because of Lin’s unique background, he is overly stereotyped. I can see why Huang, who is of Chinese descent, urges journalists to be cautious when reporting on Lin because carelessness can lead to stereotyping. However, I think he’s making rash claims outside his limits.

When an unknown figure in the largest media market in the world defeats arguably the greatest basketball player of this generation, it makes for a great story. Add the fact that he’s only 23, of Taiwanese descent, a Harvard graduate, and devout Christian and you’ve got an even better one. Comparisons to other public figures will arise on their own, with or without the influence of media.

It appears Huang trying to create controversy just for the sake of creating it. He argues that Lin being “described as a quiet and thoughtful young man, as a hard worker” is stereotypical of Asians. Furthermore, he states that most people classify Ivy League grads to be “brainy, elitist, and arrogant; Devout Christians to be judgmental and moralistic.”

Pardon, but isn’t Huang stereotyping the American public? Why does he assume that readers automatically classify these traits into their respective stereotypes?

Bashing the media for reporting opinions of those close to Lin, such as his former general manager, is completely out of line.

Blame Lin for being a hard worker and contributing to those highly questionable and unconvincing stereotypes. 


One Comment on “Is ‘Lin-sanity’ fueling stereotypes in journalism?”

  1. sophido says:

    The argument Huang is making is just, but I agree, the extent he takes it to is unreasonable. Whenever I hear comments or read articles about Jeremy Lin, his race and his Alma-mater are almost always the preceding details. I feel emphasis are put on these details in order to spark an awe from readers, but such emphasis of race and education aren’t put on players such as Bryant, Nowitzki, or James. A more constructive argument from Huang should be about how much we’ve stereotyped basketball players that it causes a stir when someone outside of the stereotype succeeds.

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