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Sustaining a Journalism Ecosystem

AUSTIN, TX – Journalism stakeholders, including Native Public Media, convened in Austin, Texas with a goal to work together to build a movement for engaged journalism.

The convening, centered on the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion, better known as DEI, explored ways genuine collaboration can take place to address challenges in the field. Lightning round presentations on DEI models, were provided by the American Press Institute Outlier Media, University of Texas at El Paso, and the Native American Journalists Association.

“Journalism is a part of a larger ecosystem, that when healthy and robust, can be powerful and resilient to the challenges of the field. This means that building pipelines into the field of journalism for youth, un-served or under-served populations is extremely important. But it also means that sectors like academia and research have a collaborative role within a healthy and sustainable journalism ecosystem,” explained Loris Taylor, President and CEO of Native Public Media.

Native Public Media’s efforts to build a journalism ecosystem for Indian Country has not only been challenging, but at times, difficult to sustain financially. News deserts such as Indian Country, not only face a shortage of “paid” journalists but face basic infrastructure needs including telephone and broadband.

Despite the entrenched challenges of Indian Country, Native Public Media has helped to build and expand a broadcast network across Indian country. With a communications network of 57 radio and 4 television stations serving Tribal communities, building the media capacity of Indian Country has become just as important has producing content for the network.

Over a decades worth of work by Native Public Media has resulted in a school board sanctioned award-winning journalism and broadcast class at a Tribal junior-senior high school, the start of the Andy Harvey Journalism and Broadcast Workshop for Native high school students in collaboration with Northern Arizona University and the Arizona Broadcasters Association, and providing “storytelling” training and education for broadcasters.

Native Public Media also leads a strong communications policy program that has prioritized spectrum and Internet opportunities for Tribes understanding that not every Tribe would be able to institute a terrestrial station on its homelands.

More recently, Native Public Media has worked with the National Association of Broadcasters and media colleagues to develop guidelines for journalists and newsrooms in reporting about race and religion.

“It’s a tough gig to build and expand media infrastructure from the ground up. But its certainly worth every sweat and pain equity placed into moving Native peoples beyond media and broadband invisibility. Our multi-pronged strategies speak to the power and influence media can have on improving the lives of Native Americans in every sector of life. We also learned from the experience of Standing Rock that First Amendment assaults can easily take place when journalists are not on the ground. This is not an isolated example and as a result, we need to work with others in the field to make certain our democracy is vibrant and strong,” concludes Taylor.

Other representatives from Tribal organizations who attended the convening included Bryan Pollard of the Native American Journalists Association, Melissa Begay from Native Public Media, and Jodi Rave Spotted Bear of the Indigenous Media Freedom Alliance.

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