Indian Country Today remains in an expansion mode — and the goal is to change the narrative of the Indigenous world (by reporting on stories that would too often go untold.)
This is Trahant Reports.
The year 2020 began with promise.
Indian Country Today was in an expansion mode, hiring new reporters, the prospect of our first managing editor, building a business team, hiring a company president, and preparing for a national weekly news broadcast.
The atmosphere in a newsroom is exciting. Television monitors keeping track of events in real time. Reporters on the phone talking to sources. Ideas being batted around. Energy.
Dalton Walker attended an Investigative Reporters and Editors training session in New Orleans. That’s when everything changed.
Two days after he returned to the Phoenix newsroom one of the participants tested positive with COVID-19.
A couple of weeks later our newsroom was empty. I have been back a lot lately, and the quietness is still unsettling. Desks are empty. The phones are quiet. Even the television monitors are off. The lights are set to motion detectors — so the rooms are often dark.
But the thing is, we found a new way to work. The news did not stop, nor did our reporters, editors and broadcasters. To put this in perspective: Two years ago Team ICT was at three people. We ended 2019 with nine people. This year we begin with more than 20.
It’s funny. As fast as we have grown, nearly every day, we feel like we need more people. Our ambitions always will exceed our resources, so how do we best report on all of the important news in the Indigenous world?
And our readership remains an amazing story. We reached more than 5.9 million people this past year; nearly 8 million page views. Our demographics have remained consistent. More women than men — 56 to 44 percent — and we continue to be stronger with younger readers, 21 percent are ages 25 to 34. The geography of our readership pretty much spreads across Indian Country, including urban areas. And just seven percent of our readers come from Canada.
Over the year, just less than half of our readers find us through social media, mostly Facebook. About 650,000 people come to ICT directly. This is our version of subscribers, regular readers who check in daily (and some several times a day).
Our broadcasting team continues to grow as well. Our plan, and budget, was to produce a weekly news show for PBS stations in the fall of 2020. But when the pandemic hit, our daily Zoom calls quickly morphed into a daily newscast. Now we are producing a news show Monday through Friday.
This week that broadcast will evolve with one of our shows becoming a weekend offering for PBS stations.
This is how we change the story about the Indigenous world, by reporting on everyday events armed with the tools of journalism.
I am Mark Trahant.