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Book Chat > Mainstream Media Coverage of Native American Issues

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message 1: by Stew (new)

Stew | 17 comments This is a blog I recently posted on My MySpace site.
Any comments?

When it comes to writing about Native American topics, I am certainly an “outsider” and a member of the so-called “dominant culture.”
I’m also a full-time journalist. I don’t consider “The Death of Raymond Yellow Thunder” part of the mass media. Maybe if I sold a million copies or so. (It would take 20 years at this rate!) However, the role of the media throughout the history of Sheridan County and Pine Ridge is something I examine in my book.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the sorry state of U.S journalism and how the media is received by and covers Indian Country.
Just a few days ago, I heard about the demise of the Lakota-Dakota Journal, a newspaper that covered the South Dakota-N.D. tribes. A lack of ad revenue led to its end, the news reports said. It follows the Black Hills People’s News -- a Pine Ridge publication that apparently came to an end as well.
These were local papers and a real loss for the communities.
As far as the national media, coverage of Native American issues was never very good.
Unfortunately, I believe things are only going to get worse.
Reservations have for a long time been “out of sight, out of mind” places for most Americans. So how do you make the public aware of the issues that take place there?
I discussed this at a panel I participated in on Whiteclay at Nebraska Wesleyan University last fall. How can more attention be brought on the issue, someone asked.
It won’t be easy in the future. Newspaper staffs are being gutted. “News holes” -- the amount of space in the newspaper devoted to stories instead of ads -- has been shrinking for years. Yes, more people get their news from the Web, but if you don’t have a staff or a travel budget, it will be harder to send reporters to Native American communities -- many of which are in remote areas.
A national correspondent on a reservation might be as rare as a white buffalo the way things are going.
Even regional coverage may become scarce. Will the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star continue to cover Whiteclay as robustly as they have in the past? That remains to be seen.
Reporters can’t solve problems. But they can bring attention to them.
Native American communities continue to suffer from high poverty rates, public health problems, domestic violence, crime and poor public schools. As many of know, casinos have not been a panacea for these problems.
Frankly, I don’t see the Web as an answer. The audience for specialized news is there, but reaches only those who seek it out. The most popular news websites are basically the big media outlets’ content.
Reporters can be obnoxious. They can be insensitive to other cultures. Maybe they misquote people on occasions. Maybe they don’t write the “full story.”
But if one shows up in Indian Country, and takes an interest, they should be welcomed with open arms instead of treated with suspicion.

message 2: by Monica (new)

Monica | 24 comments I'm one who's interested in news about Indian affairs and am glad to find others with similar interests.

I just wrote to Crazy Horse Monument about the misinformation I was given.

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