June 29, 2016
Author: Andrew Greenman, '10
Alex Abenchuchan, '10, is making waves with a news commentary show, using vlogs featuring news, humor, and discussion related to issues within the deaf community as well as current events. In creating this program in August 2015, Abenchuchan has modeled it after a typical radio talk show, but presents the content in ASL.
"I taught world history at the Texas School for the Deaf for one year, often covering important and interesting news topics that I grabbed off of CNN during the first five minutes of class. Students would ask me, 'any news?' at the beginning of my classes," said Abenchuchan, who lives in Austin, Texas. "This gave me a real sense of satisfaction to see my students understanding the world, which led to me doing more vlogs on my Facebook wall. I asked myself: 'Why aren't there any deaf-centered channels/news, especially in ASL?' News by its nature is always highly volatile and ever-changing, and our community is missing out."
Enter The Daily Moth. The name derives from the idea that moths always circulate around lights, very similar to how deaf people gather when talking and socializing. The name also refers to their wings, which can be likened to waving hands, and the eyespots on their wings, as represented on the logo, designed by Tim Woodford, '07.
When the show began, each vlog ran between 10-20 minutes, featuring news, both deaf-centric and general happenings, jokes, and perspectives on common issues that the deaf community face in their daily lives. Transcripts are provided with each vlog, along with a written blog that elaborates upon important points.
"I did two months' worth of daily news reports in 2014 as an experiment, and the reaction from the community was wonderful. I saw a huge variety of viewers who engaged with the show - from elementary school students to deaf professionals, from hearing ASL students to deaf ASL teachers, and from people within my own community and to those around the world," said Abenchuchan, who served as the editor-in-chief for the Buff and Blue while a student at Gallaudet.
"Being the editor-in-chief gave me a real sense of the 'fresh cycle' of news. Being a good reporter requires the ability to communicate with people and have good sources," said Abenchuchan.
Abenchuchan decided to brush up on his journalism skills by beginning his vlog series. After the initial two-month test run between June and August 2014, Abenchuchan decided to improve the show.
"The two-month trial period was an experiment of a concept," said Abenchuchan. "I came to a realization that the show needed to be on a better platform that would penetrate our community. I was ready then, so I brushed up on the tone and approach of the show and continued to do it since then."
His first show on August 24, 2015, included discussions about Donald Trump, alumnus Nyle DiMarco, '13, and a hilarious perspective on deaf people talking underwater.
Since then, The Daily Moth has come a long way, continuing to focus on world and deaf-centered news, and adding a segment titled "Deaf Bing," which focuses on things that only deaf people face. His show has also focused on current political commentary describing how primaries and caucuses work, and other deaf-centered happenings, such as the Broadway musical Spring Awakening, new superintendents at deaf schools, and the Starkey Hearing Foundation, sharing vlogs in shorter blurbs. He also did a follow-up interview with DiMarco, following his big win on America's Next Top Model and Dancing With the Stars.
"My vision for The Daily Moth is to provide our community the ability to understand and appreciate the world around us in our language, laugh at our unique cultural quirks, simulate conversations about the ASL community, and provide a positive representation of the deaf community to the hearing public," said Abenchuchan.
His Facebook like page boasts more than 58,000 likes, and a now-closed GoFundMe fundraising campaign launched in January 2016, called "Light up the Daily Moth," reached an important milestone on Friday, May 13, by meeting its goal of $25,000.
To check out Abenchuchan's commentary, go to The Daily Moth's YouTube channel or Facebook like page.