NAJA: Paper owes apology for flawed story about Indian children

The offending headline in the January 31, 2015, issue of The Rapid City Journal. Photo from Chase Iron Eyes / Last Real Indians / Facebook

The Native American Journalists Association is calling on The Rapid City Journal to apologize for a story that suggested Indian students were responsible for their victimization at a recent hockey game in South Dakota:
The Rapid City Journal published a regrettable headline and flawed story on Saturday that represents one of the more troubling examples of irresponsible coverage of Native Americans in recent years. The newspaper has begun to address the problematic headline but further measures should be taken both in the short-term and long-term.

The newspaper's headline "Did Native students stand for National Anthem?" ran with its top story in the Saturday print edition -- the latest in the paper's coverage of how children from the Pine Ridge Reservation became the target of racially charged insults. The headline fell short of the standards of responsible journalism, as it indirectly suggested that elementary and middle school students could have been responsible for prompting the harassment. The headline was the result of phrasing that was not well thought out on the paper's part, and outcry over the headline has been swift in the Rapid City region and beyond via social media.

The Native American Journalists Association has emailed both Journal Executive Editor Bart Pfankuch and Lee Enterprises Vice President of News Joyce Dehli, expressing our organization's deep disappointment. The story comes amid otherwise responsible coverage of how one or more people attending a hockey game as guests of a beer distributor verbally insulted students, and sprayed or threw beer at them.

Get the Story:
Rapid City Journal responds to NAJA concerns over irresponsible headline (NAJA 2/1)

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