“We call ourselves a 40-year-old startup,” joked Mark Trahant, editor of Indian Country Today. The publication has gone through several iterations since launching in 1981 as Lakota Times, but has continuously maintained a focus on Native news. The publication’s current era is rooted in university partnerships. That includes a bureau office at APU.
In 2018, Indian Country Today (ICT) restructured as a nonprofit news source and moved its headquarters from Washington, D.C. to Arizona State University’s journalism school. Dr. Bob Onders, APU’s president at the time, extended an offer to host Indian Country Today as well and the publication opened its bureau office in Gould Hall soon after.
ICT currently has two Alaska reporters on its growing roster of Indigenous writers. Reporters work remotely during the pandemic but “our intention is to use APU as our Alaska newsroom,” said Trahant. That means opportunities for APU students. Last spring’s Indigenous Journalism class at Arizona State University was offered for APU course credit. Paid internships could be next. “My goal would be to have an intern or two every semester at APU,” Trahant added.
As a nonprofit newsroom, ICT chooses to offer its content free of charge. There are no subscriptions or paywalls, eliminating barriers for its audience. That’s allowed ICT to establish a remarkable record of growth. Roughly 1,000 people watch ICT’s 30-minute nightly newscast on Instagram alone. Online, the top demographic for ICT news stories is readers aged 25 to 34. That’s not something you hear of in the media very often, Trahant said.
“There’s a narrative in the media about decline and how everything is shrinking and we’re just the opposite,” he said. The nonprofit expanded from 3 employees to 18 in the past three years. “I really see us doubling again in the next couple of years,” he added.
While the publication covers every corner of the Americas, the APU partnership helps shine the spotlight on Alaska. Recent stories from ICT’s Alaska reporters include a profile on Chickaloonies, a new graphic novel rooted in Ahtna Athabascan stories, and an ongoing series on the 50th anniversary of ANCSA.
“Alaska is just such an important story,” said Trahant. “I just think APU’s a great partner.”
Read Indian Country Today stories online at indiancountrytoday.com.
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