Erie Chinese Journal Distributes Newspapers by Mail Thanks to a Facebook Journalism Project Grant

Annie Ying Pu direct-mailed copies of the Erie Chinese Journal Saturday as part of a Facebook Journalism Project grant to ensure local Chinese American readers can safely access the Mandarin/English print paper during the COVID-19 pandemic (Photo courtesy of Erie Chinese Journal).

Back in May, The Erie Chinese Journal was one of just 144 local U.S. news organizations—one of only four in all of Ohio—to be a recipient of a Facebook Journalism Project COVID-19 Local News Relief Grant.

The Facebook Journalism Project grant helped save the 18-year-old paper from impending pandemic disaster, and now—right on-schedule—Anne Ying Pu, Publisher of the Chinese community newspaper (headquartered in Cleveland), was able to resume and increase direct-mail home delivery copies of The Erie Chinese Journal print edition through the U.S. Post Office this Saturday.  By having the paper mailed directly to readership mailboxes, these readers now receive information by and for their own community, in their own language, but without having to leave their homes during the pandemic.

Next, the grant will help add any new subscription respondents to regular email newsletters and one-to-one/one-to-many text communication from the paper, to better connect with The Erie Chinese Journal’s Chinese readership.

Ying Pu was experiencing challenges reaching her loyal, local readership with her print paper during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the resulting lack of distribution locations and loss of advertising revenue.  That was before Neighborhood Media Foundation, a local media support nonprofit organization, submitted The Erie Chinese Journal for the Facebook Journalism Project grant.

Neighborhood Media Foundation Executive Director Rich Weiss said, “We are very proud of Annie and the value Facebook places on her labor since 2002 developing her grassroots Chinese-language newspaper.”  Weiss submitted grant proposals for all 14 grassroots Cleveland papers of Neighborhood & Community Media Association of Greater Cleveland (NCMA-CLE), an association of Cleveland-area small media producers.

Throughout the “infodemic” (too much information, not all of it accurate) that has accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic, small community media outlets like The Erie Chinese Journal have reported an uptick in consumption of information reported by and for readers’ own communities.  The Facebook Journalism Project and others (like the Google News Initiative) offered several grant opportunities designed to save local media outlets from the dire threat posed by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Facebook did not make the decision to award a grant to The Erie Chinese Journal alone—the $64,998 grant was made possible by a collaboration of media support organizations.  The grant selection process was led by Local Media Association and The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, and included input from the Institute for Nonprofit News, Local Independent Online News Publishers, the Local Media Consortium, and the National Association of Broadcasters.

Ying Pu said that in addition to Cleveland, her Chinese culture newspaper enjoys readership in Pittsburgh, Columbus, Cincinnati, and other Asian communities throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania, as well as those in New York, Kentucky, and Washington.“This is the first time the Erie Chinese Journal has received a grant, and we are grateful to Neighborhood Media Foundation for connecting us to this opportunity through the Facebook Journalism Project,” said Ying Pu.  “This is just the beginning of a beautiful partnership that will help our local Chinese communities receive vital COVID-19 information that they trust.”

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