Fall 2005

Covering Indian Country

As a young reporter at The Rapid City Journal, Tim Giago was seldom allowed to cover stories on the nearby Pine Ridge Indian Reservation where he was raised. As one editor told him, being Native American meant he could not be objective in his reporting. In 1981 he moved back to the reservation to start a community newspaper called the Lakota Times. At that time it was the only independently owned weekly Indian publication in the United States. In this collection of stories, Native Americans and non-natives who tell stories about the lives of Indian peoples talk about their obligation to fairness and the skills they need to live up to this responsibility.

Covering Indian Country
Introduction
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
Challenges Native and Non-Native Journalists Confront
Those who tell Indian people’s stories are ‘expected to be truthful, responsible, accurate and excellent communicators.’
By Jodi Rave
The Difficult Path of a Tribal Watchdog Reporter
‘I asked the council politely, “What is the role of this board? Will you be looking over and deciding what news goes to print?”
By Bonnie Red Elk
Freedom of the Press in Indian Country
At its creation, the Lakota Times ‘became the only independently owned Indian weekly publication in America.’
By Tim Giago
Covering Indian Country: How an Outsider Gets In (1 comment)
Relying on decades of experience, a journalist provides valuable reporting tips.
By Steve Magagnini
The Healing Power of Well-Reported Words (1 comment)
A reporter returns home—to a troubled reservation—to write about what happened to its land and people.
By Larry Oakes
Taking Time to Understand the Story to Be Told
To report this story meant ‘immersing ourselves in a system of government and a way of life that, shamefully, we knew little about.’
By Michael Moore
Attitudes and Mindsets Hinder Journalists in
‘… consciously or unconsciously, stories have been shaped to fit well known themes of bad, good or degraded, ancient and exotic Indians.’
By Mary Ann Weston
When Reporters Lack Access and Knowledge
‘… access would be easier to achieve if reporters had been there to cover some of the more routine stories that had taken place on the reservation.’
By Dorreen Yellow Bird
What ‘Band’ Means
Dorreen Yellow Bird offers an example to explain the correct use of the term “band.”
By Dorreen Yellow Bird
Cultures Clash in Coverage of a School Shooting (1 comment)
Some reporters didn’t understand the implications of tribal sovereignty when they went to the Red Lake Indian Reservation to report this story.
By Dan Gunderson
Broadcast News: The Absence of Native Storytellers (2 comments)
Without American Indian journalists, potential news stories are untold and the complexities of issues aren’t addressed.
By Mark Trahant
The Internet: Continuing the Legacy of Storytelling
‘I often reflect on my work as a journalist and wonder if I’ve some inherent genetic code that comes from this time-honored practice.’
By Victor Merina
Valuable Web Sites About Indian Country
By Victor Merina
Finding a Different Path Into the Newsroom
For Native students, a summer journalism institute, an online newspaper, and internships can lead to full-time jobs.
By Denny McAuliffe
Native News Honors Project
In a journalism class at the University of Montana, students report from the state’s Indian Country, and their words and images are published.
By Carol Van Valkenburg
A Student’s Most Memorable Story (5 comments)
In tackling a tough topic—racial relations in a Montana community—a young reporter learned how much good journalism matters.
By Anne E. Pettinger
Words & Reflections
Introduction
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
Opinion’s Place in Journalism
Victor S. Navasky explains why he loathes objectivity and values ‘critical opinion.’
By Ray Jenkins
The Silent Takeover of American Journalism
‘… realistic solutions to the problems newspaper editors face nowadays are elusive as best.’
By Gilbert Cranberg
Recommendations From the Ad Hoc Committee on the Press
By Gilbert Cranberg
Going to War With a Camera as Artillery (1 comment)
With war photography, ‘similar themes emerge; even the fields and faces can start to appear to be the same.’
By David Leeson
When What War Is About Becomes Invisible
‘If it wasn’t for people like you, people over here would not know what was really going on.’
By Steve Northup
Probing the Successes and Failures of the Washington Press Corps
‘Great reporting in Washington is about cutting through the bureaucratic maze.’
By James McCartney
Blending Economic Ideas With the Persuasive Power of Journalism
Galbraith ‘performed that balancing trick as well as it has been done.’
By John Geddes
When Media Create the Message
The author of ‘Mediated’ makes us ‘feel as if our very beings are enslaved by the messages as well as the messengers.’
By Howard Shapiro
Time and Techniques Define A ‘New New Journalism’
Conversations with writers reveal how and why their stories are being told in different ways.
By Madeleine Blais
Journalist's Trade: Changing Newspapers, Changing News
Introduction
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
A Newsroom’s Fortress Walls Collapse
At The Spokesman-Review, editors and reporters explain ‘what we do and why’ and involve ‘citizens, at some level, in news planning and decision-making.’
By Steven A. Smith
Online Timeline (1 comment)
By David Carlson
Sharing All That Reporters Knew With Readers
By Steven A. Smith
Managing the Transparent Newsroom
By Steven A. Smith
A Newspaper Talks With Readers in a Cyber Town Square
‘Changes wrought by the Internet demand that newspapers innovate, and that means experimentation as we move beyond the boundaries of our known world.’
By Patrick Dougherty
A New Journalism for Democracy in a New Age
By Bill Kovach
Transforming the Gathering, Editing and Distribution of News
Is technology poised to replace journalists and their judgment by consuming their tasks?
By Francis Pisani
Wondering About the Wonders of Technology
Edited excerpts from a discussion with Francis Pisani
The Transparent Life of Newspaper Blogs
At the News & Record in Greensboro, North Carolina, many reporters write blogs—and newspaper stories, too.
By John Robinson
The Ascent of Blogging
Old media report on the new media, but they haven’t figured out how to adapt.
By David D. Perlmutter and Misti McDaniel
Traditional Media in the Digital Age (2 comments)
Data about news habits and advertiser spending lead to a reassessment of media’s prospects and possibilities.
By Douglas Ahlers and John Hessen
The News Media’s 30-Year Hibernation
Online newspapers ‘are not creative. They are not interactive. They’re too much like newspapers.’
By David Carlson
Creating The Online Timeline
By David Carlson
Reinventing A Newspaper’s Web Site
The online Los Angeles Times is ‘very different. It should be different. It should look different.’
By Barbara A. Serrano
Griping About Newspaper Editorials Doesn’t Change
The problem editors face is figuring out how to get people to read editorials.
By Michael Gartner
Graceful and Persuasive Words and Passionate Beliefs
By Michael Gartner
Getting Acquainted With Newspapers and Journalism
Students who didn’t read newspapers started doing so, and before long they knew a lot about journalism and were inventing news outlets of their own.
By Susan E. Tifft
Organizing the New News
‘… the greater velocity of information today multiplies the opportunities for confusing and misleading the public.’
By Philip Meyer
When Major News Has a Very Short Shelf Life
With The Associated Press offering an ‘optional lead,’ questions arise about the handling of yesterday’s news.
By Russell Frank
Looking Behind the Scenes of Political Coverage
A study compares national presidential press coverage with local reporting on congressional races and emerges with some unexpected findings.
By Shanto Iyengar, William F. Woo & Jennifer McGrady
Journalist's Trade: Comparing National and Local Campaign Coverage
Introduction
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
Senate Hopefuls Clash Over Minimum Wage
Excerpt from a story written by Schuyler Kropf
Winning By Just Losing Less Badly; Edwards Visits Lima to Nibble at GOP
Excerpt from a story written by Stephen Koff
Curator's Corner
Mainstream Media and the Survival of Journalism
Excerpts from remarks by Bob Giles
Nieman Notes
A Long Journey Home
A photojournalist on assignment uncovers dormant feelings about his past and the South.
By Lester Sloan