Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Indigenous newsrooms, nonprofits, bring deeper coverage of Native American news

"Native American communities have seen more robust news coverage in recent years, in part because of an increase in Indigenous affairs reporting positions at U.S. newsrooms and financial support from foundations," Katie Oyan reports for The Associated Press. "Journalism-focused philanthropy quadrupled from 2009 to 2019 as traditional newspaper revenue shrank, according to a Media Impact Funders report. At the same time, an increasingly diverse population and a renewed focus on social injustice have commanded greater media attention."

Nonprofit news organizations have been leading the way with an increased focus on Indigenous affairs, and some newsrooms are entirely dedicated to Indigenous affairs. "Colorado-based High Country News created an Indigenous affairs desk in 2017 that has published dozens of stories from journalists, authors and experts across Indian Country. Other non-Native outlets followed with new beats and staff," Oyan reports. "National service program Report for America provides funding to many outlets, including The Associated Press, and is helping finance temporary Indigenous affairs reporting positions at 10 U.S. newsrooms. They’re part of a corps of journalists the organization established in recent years to bolster coverage of underserved communities."

The increased focus is helping build trust with Indigenous communities that have historically had poor relationships with the news media after being ignored or misrepresented for years. "Despite the growing interest, advocates say much more needs to happen. Many mainstream news organizations still lack Indigenous affairs reporting positions, including some of the country’s largest," Oyan reports. "And there have been missteps. In 2020, CNN received backlash for an elections graphic that displayed returns by race as white, Latino, Black, Asian and 'something else' — a label that outraged many Native Americans."

Advocates also note that tribal media needs more attention and protection, since many such newsrooms are owned by their tribes and don't have free press protections, Oyan reports.

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