Catalyzing Storytelling in Communication Infrastructure Theory: A Study of Local Ethnic Media

Jean Jiyoung Lim, Yong Chan Kim, Susan Koch-Weser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Communication infrastructure theory (CIT) suggests that an ethnic enclave’s communication infrastructure (CI) shapes the community’s unique social processes that give rise to social determinants of health. A well-integrated CI in ethnic enclaves that includes community-based organizations (CBOs), local ethnic media, and resident networks is positively associated with residents’ health outcomes. Through storytelling, CBOs and other community actors obtain and disseminate information, develop a sense of belonging to the community, and participate in problem-solving activities, including health-related ones. Local ethnic media can play an important role in building a network of neighborhood storytellers by catalyzing storytelling about local resources and problems. We propose three main categories of “catalyzing storytelling” by local ethnic media: 1) CBO stories, 2) geo-ethnic stories, and 3) presentation of root causes and solutions for community problems. This study examines the content of Boston Chinatown’s local ethnic news media outlet, Sampan, to assess the three categories of catalyzing stories. We analyzed a total of 340 news articles and one interview with the editor. The findings showed that Sampan tells stories in all three categories. Based on our findings, we further develop the concept of catalyzing as a communication process in CIT. This new concept in CIT has practical implications for public health communication as it demonstrates a process through which local ethnic media can foster community engagement and health. Health communicators should seek opportunities to work collaboratively with local ethnic media in ways that will serve to catalyze community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-325
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) reported there is no funding associated with the work featured in this article. Special thanks to Dr. Heang Leung Rubin, the project ADAPT director, for her expertise and assistance throughout all aspects of our study.

Publisher Copyright:
©, Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Library and Information Sciences


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