Non-native journalists, even those with the best of intentions, face incredible challenges in appropriately covering Native issues. Settler-colonist biases are so embedded in the culture, from conceiving pre-contact cultures as “primitive", to treating Native people as ethnic minorities rather than sovereign nations. In some cases, violations against the rights of Native people have been so normalized, editors may not see certain cases as even being newsworthy.
Due to the diversity of Native cultures and the impacts of hundreds of years of government campaigns to tear Native communities apart, Native communities can be extremely complex and difficult to navigate as an outsider. Tribal members who are eager to talk to reporters may not be the best sources nor as knowledgeable as they portray themselves to be.
Pollen Nation Magazine seeks to provide services to help journalists who want to cover Native communities but are lacking in historical perspective and may struggle to identify their biases.
Our staff is equipped to assist non-Native journalists in many ways. As part of our service to Indigenous communities, we offer services and support for non-Native journalists in the following ways:
Assist journalists to appropriately apply traditional journalism tenets, such as objectivity and ethics, when working with Native communities.
Provide fact sheets and briefs, style guides and tip sheets to help journalists avoid perpetuating problematic tropes or misconceptions.
Help journalists identify and address implicit biases known and unknown, with the goal of more ethically presenting stories of Indigenous people and issues.
Assist journalists in “making things right” with Native communities who may distrust them and improving relationships with local tribes.
Provide historical and social context for the stories they’re reporting on. A journalist, for instance, can’t appropriately cover the the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) without understanding the concept of sovereignty and the history of boarding schools.
Help journalists navigate and identify worthwhile sources and/or assess the reliability of sources they’ve identified.