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Posts Tagged ‘Native Americans’


Newspaper Headline Points Up Lack of Understanding

Flawed news coverage is always bad form, but the issues in Rapid City, South Dakota points out journalists are not understanding or mindful of Native American issues in stories or headlines.

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Native News Online

In January, the Rapid City Journal ran a story about some children from the Pine Ridge Reservation being attacked by a crowd during a hockey game for reportedly not standing during the national anthem. The students were attacked with racial slurs, insults and had beer sprayed and thrown at them; the Journal headline on Saturday, Jan. 31 read: “Did Native Kids Stand for National Anthem?” The Journal editors have since apologized for the insensitive headline.

Granted, the newspaper did not condone the actions of people at the hockey game, they even ran a strongly worded editorial calling on people to stop racism. But, the headline was a serious lapse that fails to meet the standards of journalism and points out how thoughtless journalists can be if they do not understand a group of people.

NAJA

Native American Journalists Association

Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) leaders said the regrettable headline represents one of the more troubling examples of irresponsible coverage of Native Americans in recent years.

“The headline fell short of the standards of responsible journalism, as it indirectly suggested that the elementary and middle school students could have been responsible for prompting the harassment,” a NAJA press release reads. “The headline was a 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.”

In its apology, Journal Executive Editor Brad Pfankuch said the paper “deeply regrets the pain caused by this headline” and said the staff have begun taking steps to responsibly address the situation.

“A justifiable anger has resulted from the headline that appeared in the Rapid City Journal on Saturday, Jan. 31,” Pfankuch said. “It is now abundantly clear that the headline about the National Anthem is troubling to this community and our readers.
“To some, the headline signified that there was a justification for the harassment of Native American students at the Rush hockey game on Saturday, Jan. 24. This was not our intent. There is no justification for such racist behavior. There can never be any justification for the appalling way those students and their chaperones were treated at the game.”

Pfankuch also noted the owner of the suite where the students were sitting, who was not at the game, received a death threat and the paper ran the story using an anonymous source to protect that person and their family. He said if the police provide names of the people responsible for the harassment, the paper will publish the names. Pfankuch also promised NAJA the paper will continue to aggressively pursue the story.

NAJA officers said they appreciate Pfankuch’s prompt attention to the issue and encourage the Journal to continue pursuing the story.

Rebecca Tallent

 

Rebecca Tallent is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Idaho and she serves on the SPJ Board of Directors as a Campus Adviser at Large.

Forbes Under-30 Media List: No Latinos, No Blacks, and No Native Americans

The issue about diversity is burning up the web right now, because journalists of color are upset with the latest Forbes Under-30 Media List.  Not one person is Latino, African American or Native American.  There are a few Asian Americans.

Forbes unveiled its list stating:

“These are the people who aren’t waiting to reinvent the world. FORBES, leaning on the wisdom of its readers and the greatest minds in business, presents the 30 disrupters under 30, in each of 12 fields, making a difference right now.”

Robert Hernandez made me aware of the issue when he posted on Facebook  “Apparently Forbes does not know any Black or Latino journos under 30….let’s introduce them to some.  Please tweet them some names.”

Hernandez is assistant professor at USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism.  He’s also a current board member with the Online News Association and past board member with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Soon after Hernandez put out that call on Twitter; journalists started tweeting suggestions to Forbes.   Alexandra Talty, a spokeswoman with Forbes talked to Richard Prince who blogs about journalists of color for The Maynard Institute.  Talty told  Journal-isms:

“While there are over fifty people of color on our other 30 Under 30 lists, diversity in media remains a national issue, which this list reflects.”

WHO DID THE CHOOSING?

Forbes asked its readers to nominate candidates for the list.  The staff also submitted names. I just can’t believe that when they laid out the photos and bios of the top 30—no one said “wait a minute, what’s missing here?”

I’m wondering who were the judges. Was it a diverse group that included Latinos, African Americans and Native Americans?

DON’T IGNORE THE ISSUE

An effort has to be made to make everyone feel “included.”  That’s the bottomline.  Today no magazine, newspaper, online news site or television station can afford to lose readers and viewers.  Not when we have so much news at our fingertips.

If  journalists of color are upset that Forbes did  not include one African American, Latino or Native American on its media  list; don’t you think they will let others know?

On a broader look, if people of color do not feel included in a story; they will stop buying your newspaper or magazine or they’ll change the television channel. Forbes thought this golden list of people under 30 was going to be a wonderful way to end 2011, but for journalists of color—it was a slap in the face.

DO IT RIGHT

My suggestion to Forbes; DIVERSIFY in all areas.   Your spokeswoman said “diversity in media remains a national issue.”  There you have it!  Do a story on the lack of diversity in the media and start with your magazine.  Take an inside look.

Learn what Forbes is learning today from bad press: Diversity matters!

Rebecca Aguilar is an Emmy Award winning reporter with 30 years in the business. She’s a member of the SPJ Diversity Committee and a board member with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the SPJ Fort Worth Chapter.

 

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