Partnership with NBCnews.com brings the Heartland to a national audience

Officer Tu Tran on patrol in Lincoln, Nebraska. As one of only two Vietnamese officers on the police force, Tran serves as a crucial link between the city and its growing Vietnamese population.

Officer Tu Tran on patrol in Lincoln, Nebraska. As one of only two Vietnamese officers on the police force, Tran serves as a crucial link between the city and its growing Vietnamese population.

By Bobby Caina Calvan | The Heartland Project

The Heartland Project is foremost about partnering with Nebraska’s newsrooms. But it’s also about letting the rest of America in on a secret: There’s diversity in our country’s heartland, too.

That’s why the project is providing content to national outlets.

Our first such partner is NBCnews.com, which launched an Asian America site this week. It already has one dedicated to Latino audiences.

In the coming months, we’re hoping to continue our partnership with NBC News while developing relationships with other national and regional outlets.

As always, we provide the content free of charge in hopes of encouraging newsrooms – local, regional or national – to recognize the value of reporting on all facets of our communities, whether it be about people of color or LGBT issues.

Outlets like NBCnews.com certainly understand that value, as evidenced by its decision to launch what we in the industry call “verticals” catering to its Latino and Asian American audiences.

Read the story on NBCnews.com:
How Asian Immigration Is Changing America’s Heartland

NBC News understands that not only is it a good idea to expand its coverage to reflect the country’s increasingly diverse communities, but that it’s good business.

Over the years, legacy news media such as newspapers and television have lost readers and audiences. Some have made the mistake of contracting its coverage. But other outlets have endeavored to widen coverage and begin to regrow audiences by being more inclusive.

Amna Nawaz, the managing editor for the Asian America online vertical for NBC News, was eager to partner with us after being approached by AAJA President Paul Cheung.

Nawaz and I spoke briefly over the telephone. She wanted a story about Nebraska’s growing diversity, but she wanted to focus on something specific. That’s when I proposed doing a story on Officer Tu Tran, one of two Vietnamese Americans on the Lincoln Police force.

It seemed appropriate to focus on Officer Tran.

Recently, the online magazine Slate produced a map circulated widely on Facebook that depicted the country’s most spoken languages. That English and Spanish are the most widely spoken across the country was no surprise, but Slate wondered about the third-most spoken language in each state. In Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington, it was Vietnamese.

That same map showed the rich diversity in the languages we speak: Arabic in Michigan; Tagalog in California, Nevada and Hawaii; Chinese in New York; Korean in Virginia and Georgia; Hmong in Minnesota; Navajo in Arizona and New Mexico; Yupik in Alaska; and Dakota in, well, South Dakota.

In truth, I was more surprised that German was the third-most spoken language in 16 states, according to Slate.

Within Nebraska, there are dozens of languages spoken thanks to the growing number of immigrants and refugees who now call the Cornhusker State home. In fact, Lincoln Public Schools says 52 languages are represented across its campuses.

Officer Tran remains deeply involved in his community. He recognizes that he serves not only as a role model for his community’s youth, but as an important bridge between his community and the rest of Lincoln.