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Telling Our Stories Through Collaboration

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Untruths, invisibility, and stereotypes of Indigenous Peoples still exist. “Perhaps one way to begin to change the narrative is through Collaborative Journalism with greater involvement of researchers, scholars, journalists, and advocates to grow and strengthen the Native Media Ecosystem,” suggested Melissa Begay, NPM Operations Manager who attended the Collaborative Journalism Summit, May 16-17, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Collaborative Summit presenters and panelists echoed that collaboration works! Collaboratives such as Resolve Philadelphia with more than 23 partners, including WHYY, Muhlenberg College, and the Philadelphia Tribune, partnered in 2016 to report on prisoner reentry, a critical issue the city faced. The impact of Resolve Philadelphia’s reporting led to a Fair Criminal Records Screening Standards Ordinance and financial incentives for Philadelphia businesses to earn yearly tax credits when they employed formerly incarcerated individuals.

Another notable collaborative with more than 200 teen reporters was Since Parkland, a partnership between the Miami Herald, The Trace, McClatchy, Global Student Square, and Now This. Since Parkland collected and reported on the number of children under the age of 18 killed in gun shootings across the United States.

Begay believes that a Native Media Collaborative has the potential to benefit Indigenous People by telling our own stories on issues that matter to our communities. With approximately 60 Native radio and television stations, local and national Native newspapers, Native journalists and media makers, and Native professional associations making up the Native Media Ecosystem, Begay states that “the initiative to partner and collaborate can impact and shift Indigenous People to move beyond the “asterisk” and the “other” category. This is a great opportunity for Indigenous People to unify Native Truths, Native Voices, and Native Media into mainstream media and of course, across Indian Country.”

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