Terri Hansen: More Native journalists needed to share stories

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Indian Country Today reporter Terri Hansen discusses the importance of Native journalists:
Science is increasingly important in Indian country as tribal communities face escalating environmental stresses and climatic changes. The need for Native journalists to report related, rapidly evolving science and technology has never been greater, and, although not specific to Native Americans was one of many issues addressed by the “Supporting Diversity in Science Writing” panel at the Science Writers 2014 conference (SciWri14).

Diversity in the newsroom ensures that all voices are being heard, all communities are being covered, Tracie Powell, chair of the National Association of Black Journalists digital task force, and founder of All Digitocracy told the attentive, overflowing audience.

It resonated. A lack of Native journalists in the newsroom means that 566 tribal nations in 32 states get little news coverage. As Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock tribal member and former editorial page editor at the now defunct Seattle Post-Intelligencer once told the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, “There are complex legal issues [to access in Indian country], but there are also barriers of benign neglect” (RCFP 2006).

SciWri14 panelist Philip Yam, managing editor online for Scientific American, and president of the Asian American Journalists Association NY chapter pointed out, “Many minority journalists don’t realize that what they do can be science journalism. We must reach them.” Yes! Native journalists are committing science journalism as they report environmental degradation, mining, climate disruptions, toxic substances, health and other issues that regularly affect tribal nations.

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Terri Hansen: Applying 'Diversity in Science Writing' to Native Journalists (Indian Country Today 1/14)

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