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Logging on to Asian pop culture

May 04, 2003|Scott Timberg

It's a view of Asian culture that goes from West L.A.'s Giant Robot magazine to the San Francisco theater troupe 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors to the latest Chow Yun-Fat movie. A new Web site -- a weekly online magazine at www.asiaarts.ucla.edu, run mostly by UCLA undergraduates -- want to capture it.

"With all the crossover going on now, the time seemed right for an arts and entertainment page," says founder Tom Plate, UCLA adjunct professor, syndicated columnist and self-described "whitest guy in the whole world." The magazine grows out of a more sober-toned site Plate runs, through the university's Asia Pacific Media Network, called ASIAMEDIA.

"That's hard-core political stuff that interests me but doesn't interest the kids," he says of his students.

"Given the demographics of the school, it seemed to me the talent was there to not just do this well, but exceptionally well," he adds.

So far, the site offers a sunny view of Asian and Asian American life -- stories on movie stars, rappers and fashion shows, but fewer mentions of the fine arts and no reference to the SARS epidemic affecting Asia and its cultural life.

Plate, The Times' editorial page editor from 1989 to 1995, hopes to give students journalism experience and to make the site lively enough that People magazine turns to it for ideas.

"For now, we're going with what the kids want to do. But UCLA takes itself very seriously, and we'll move into more academically respectable arts too."

-- Scott Timberg

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