by Ronnie Estoque
After being in local operations for more than four decades, the Seattle Chinese Post (SCP) ended its operations earlier this month. The newspaper was founded in 1982 by Assunta Ng, who immigrated to Seattle in 1971 from Hong Kong to attend the University of Washington (UW). She wrote for the Daily newspaper while there and earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies and education from the UW in 1974.
“At the time, there was no Chinese newspaper in the Pacific Northwest, and the Chinese immigrants at the time depended a lot on rumors and gossip,” Ng said. “They didn’t have any real information, good information, to navigate their lives in their new American society, so I thought that the Chinese newspaper would be the solution.”
She began to recruit a team of writers and editors to form the SCP and began to train staff at their original headquarters in the Bush Hotel. They acquired a Chinese typesetting machine and published their first issue on Jan. 20, 1982.
“Looking back, I found that I had a lot of strong belief that the community needed the newspaper,” Ng said. “I think there was a lot of skepticism from the older members of the community. But then when the paper came out week after week on time, you know, people really read from the bottom to the top.”
Local community business owners and organizations bought advertisements in the SCP, which helped them maintain their consistent weekly operations. After steadily growing in their first year of operation, Ng identified that there was also a need to make news accessible to American-born Chinese community members who were noticing their parents and elders reading the SCP. Later that same year, Ng founded the Northwest Asian Weekly, a local Pan-Asian English-language weekly newspaper.
“I’m proud to say we never skipped a week, even during the tough times in the pandemic. And I was so worried at the very beginning because of the lockdown. And I thought, ‘Oh, my God, we’re not able to go out to get news,’” Ng said.
The first couple months of the pandemic presented challenges for both publications, as Ng began to receive a “tsunami” of cancellations for advertisements. Uncertainty was at an all-time high for the local community as many businesses struggled to adapt to the constantly changing guidelines around social interaction.
“We did not have any lack of news during the pandemic because we had to cover the new health situations, how to protect ourselves, you know., That was even before the vaccine came out. And we had to, you know, present accurate information about COVID because there was fake news.”
“One of the reasons I didn’t want to shut down is because it was bad timing. I didn’t feel that was good for the community. When the community needs us, and we turn our backs on them — it just didn’t feel right,” Ng said, “There’s always a challenge, but it’s up to you to look for silver linings, and how to adapt.”
Last December, the Northwest Asian Weekly made the announcement that the publication would be going fully online:
“While we are sad to make this tough decision, the support we are receiving gives us joy and comfort, especially during the pandemic. We thank the federal government for its PPP (Payroll Protection Program) loan, the state’s funding for special reporting and coverage on COVID-19 and other topics, and the county and city for their continued partnership. The generous support we’ve received from everyone including the community, sponsors for our activities, corporations, and community organizations, has kept us going through all these years.”
Ng also acknowledged that the journalism landscape has vastly changed since the inception of her two publications in the 1980s, due to social media and the rise of fake news. She is hopeful to continue to tell local community stories through the Northwest Asian Weekly’s online presence, which she says will be updated much more regularly.
Ronnie Estoque is a South Seattle-based freelance photographer and videographer. You can keep up with his work by checking out his website.
📸 Featured Image: Sign over the entrance to the offices of the “Seattle Chinese Post” and “Northwest Asian Weekly,” Chinatown-International District, Seattle, Washington, Dec. 24, 2007. Photo is attributed to Joe Mabel (under a Creative Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 license.)
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