NAJA, IJNR partner to improve natural resources reporting in Indian Country

BY STAFF REPORTS
01/28/2019 12:30 PM
NORMAN– The Native American Journalists Association has partnered with the Institute for Journalism & Natural Resources to improve the accuracy, depth and perspective of natural resources reporting across Indian Country.

The partnership will facilitate the inclusion of Indigenous voices and viewpoints in IJNR reporting institutes, according to a NAJA press release.

The release states IJNR helps improve coverage of natural resource issues by taking professional journalists on multi-day, expenses-paid, immersive field trips to locations throughout North America. The institute employs an experiential learning model that gives journalists an opportunity to gain a fuller understanding of the environment, economic and cultural landscapes underlying sometimes contentious natural resource issues, according to the release.

IJNR CEO Dave Spratt has been instrumental in developing the partnership and sees a benefit to both organizations, the release states.

“Too often, coverage of natural resource and environment issues has overlooked stakeholders hiding in plain view, especially Indigenous communities,” he said. “It is critically important to include these voices if we as a society want to fully understand our diverse and complex relationships with natural resources. This partnership will offer Native journalists additional tools and resources for reporting on the environment and bring important perspective to that coverage.”

Indian Country is replete with natural resources and environmental issues that profoundly affect Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and First Nations communities. These issues are often compounded by complex jurisdictional, cultural and industrial factors that can inhibit clear and informative reporting necessary for Indigenous communities to understand and engage with these critical stories.

“Our partnership with the Institute for Journalism & Natural Resources will lead to more opportunities for NAJA members, better coverage of Indigenous communities, and provide a blueprint for future collaborations with organizations that actively support inclusive, accurate journalism,” NAJA President Tristan Ahtone said. “Context matters, as do Indigenous worldviews, and we are excited to be working with IJNR.”

The first product of the partnership will occur April 24 when IJNR hosts the Lower Mississippi River Institute. IJNR will lead a group of journalists from across the country on a weeklong expedition down the Lower Mississippi to get a first-hand look at some of the stories along its shores. The institute will travel from St. Louis to New Orleans and explore several topics including a new plan to divert some of the river’s flow so it can help rebuild the Louisiana coastline.

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