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Opinion
Jodi Rave: Freedom of the press in Indian Country


"Daily newspapers miss a lot of news in Native communities and they could do more by increasing the number of Natives in their newsrooms. And Native people could do more by actively engaging editors and reporters through phone calls and press releases, a feat accomplished by building a solid public relations team.

While most people want to know how the mainstream press can better cover Native issues, the same questions ought to be asked about how tribal newspapers can do the same. On one front, tribal newspapers - either those owned by a tribe or an independent publisher - fall in line with most newspapers. They provide a calendar of community events and feature local news stories.

But tribal newspapers typically excel at providing a platform for tribal leaders to put their best face forward.

Therein is my heartache. Tribal newspapers rarely hold tribal council leaders and department heads accountable.

It all translates into a lack of freedom for the press.

And the story rarely changes.

Tribes own the majority of tribal newspapers. That's like putting state or federal governments in charge of a media outlet. I don't know of many, or any, tribal newspapers that actively scrutinize tribal government activities.

Those stories typically are left to the daily mainstream newspapers, which then get criticized for covering only negative Native news. And it's a fair argument because many mainstream reporters fail to write stories that capture the day-to-day humanity and life stories of indigenous people.

Meanwhile, tribal communities suffer when the media isn't allowed to provide checks and balances. Newspapers provide a platform to challenge the status quo. Without it, a climate persists where communities remain plagued by high unemployment, stagnant economies, health quandaries and sometimes inadequate leadership."

Get the Story:
Jodi Rave: Tribes need to cherish the freedom of the press (The Missoulian 12/3)

Relevant Links:
Jodi Rave - http://www.missoulian.com/jodirave

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