A year ago Indian Country Today was dark. And folks were wondering if the “paper” would ever revive.
This is Trahant Reports.
But the digital daily has new life — and it’s about to launch a new innovation. Indian Country Today is now a mobile-focused publication and it’s building a significant readership, roughly 400,000 viewers each month.
And even better: Indian Country Today’s readership is young. Our number one demographic by age is 25 to 34; just about 25 percent of our readership. And our readership is more female than male — 57 percent to 43 percent.
Indian Country Today is a Limited Liability Company, owned by the National Congress of American Indians. The editorial process for Indian Country Today is independent of that ownership. The digital news organzation is designed as public media; so there are no subscriptions and all of the content can be freely used by other publications, especially tribal media.
We have already set the bar high with our election coverage — our reporters wrote tens-of- thousands of words and produced Indian Country’s first ever national broadcast with live election returns.
A record number of Native Americans candidates for offices ranging from state legislatures to governor. A record number of Native American women, including millennial women, ran and won. And the first two Native American women elected to the Congress. As in ever.
But not many would have known about any of this without Indian Country Today. Our research was cited by The New York Times, National Public Radio, the Economist, and dozens of other news organizations. In a record year, this was the go-to place to get the information because it had never been collected before.
That’s all a prelude.
Indian Country Today is about to expand and will soon open a newsroom on the campus of Arizona State University in downtown Phoenix.
Our audacious goal is to create a national weekly TV news program (in addition to our digital platform).
I think a lot about the perception of American Indians and Alaska Natives in the media. We all know about the stereotypes and narratives that come out of Hollywood or Washington, but a news program, one that reaches millions of people via public television, has the chance to change the story, showing the beauty, intelligence and aspirations of Native people.
Study after study says the same thing: one of Indian Country’s greatest challenges is our invisibility. Sure, some people can tell you about a conflict. Or a casino. But ask about our success stories or our heroes — and you will get a blank stare.
We need to change the story. We need to make sure that more voices — voices from Indian Country — are included in the nation’s discourse.
I am Mark Trahant.