Hitting Home

Searchlight New Mexico, a nonprofit investigative news organization, and Native Public Media, a Native broadcasting organization that engages in communications policymaking and provides station support services for Native-owned radio and TV stations, are delighted to announce that they will partner on an upcoming project called Hitting Home.

The project will tell the story of the coronavirus and how it’s irrevocably changing five of New Mexico’s most quintessential towns. All five — Shiprock, Gallup, Las Vegas, Carlsbad and Anthony — are steeped in struggle, history and now, perhaps a battle for their lives. Over the course of a year, Searchlight reporters as well as a team of videographers will produce a series of multimedia portraits of these communities, returning again and again to document the impacts of COVID-19 over time.

A mural on a ruined building in Shiprock, depicting a man in traditional Navajo dress wearing a respirator, warns residents about COVID-19. By Don J. Usner for Searchlight New Mexico

“We are delighted to partner with Searchlight to spotlight stories from tribal and border communities in our collective battle against COVID-19. Every story told brings us closer to healing knowing that our resilience also depends on the compassion of others. The stories will be offered to our entire radio and television network throughout the month of June,” states NPM President and CEO, Loris Taylor.

To accomplish this, Searchlight will create long-form narrative stories accompanied by 1- to 2-minute videos; audio from residents in lockdown; maps, charts, and our unique documentary-style photography. The stories are being translated into Spanish and Diné for broadcast on Spanish-speaking and Navajo radio stations.

The first story in the series focuses on Shiprock and will air Monday, June 1. It will be written by Sunnie Clahchischiligi (Navajo), a former Navajo Times reporter whose family lives in Shiprock, and translated by Dolly Manson, a Navajo language professor at University of New Mexico.