National Native Media Awards

NAJA announces 2015 National Native Media Award winners

The Native American Journalists Association to recognize more than 250 members with awards for excellence in covering Indian Country during national conference July 11

NORMAN, Okla. -- The Native American Journalists Association will award more than 250 National Native Media Awards recognizing members’ coverage of Indian Country during the 2015 NAJA Media Awards Banquet July 11. The annual competition recognizes excellence in reporting by Native and non-Native journalists across the U.S., and Canada.

There were more than 530 entries across the following categories:

  • Student Category
  • Associate Category (Divisions I-III)
  • Division I - Circulation below 4,000
  • Division II - Circulation 4,000 - 8,000
  • Division III - Circulation above 8,000

NAJA thanks all of the 2015 judges, their outlets and organizations for the donation of time and expertise spent on making this year’s awards possible:

  • University of Omaha Nebraska
  • Society of Professional Journalists
  • Society of Environmental Journalists
  • The Circle
  • The Oklahoman
  • The University of Idaho
  • Western Kentucky University
  • University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Each year, NAJA honors individuals or organizations with the highest levels of achievement within the field of journalism. 

2015 NAJA Elias Boudinot Free Press Award

The recipient of the 2015 NAJA Elias Boudinot Free Press Award is Neshaminy High School newspaper, The Playwickian, located in Langhorne, Pa.

The student news staff was nominated based on their decision to stop publishing the school’s racist team name. The Native American Journalists Association continues to advocate against the use of Native mascots. 

Tara Huber has been the advisor of The Playwickian since 2000. She was named Journalism Teacher of the Year for 2014-2015 by the Pennsylvania Scholastic Press Association and honored with the 2014 National Liberty Museum Teacher as Hero Award aw well as the 2015 Ancil Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism. The editors received the 2014 ACLU Civil Libertarian Award and The City Council of Philadelphia passed a resolution in support of Huber and the editors for taking a controversial stand against offensive Native American mascotry and fighting for scholastic press freedom. The Playwickian editors in chief were honored in 2014 with the Student Press Law Center and National Scholastic Press Association Courage in Journalism Award.

In her nomination letter, NAJA member and past president Patty Talahongva mentioned the growing movement among media to avoid using the term and the pushback from school administrators that came with the student outlet’s decision.

“They follow a growing list of news outlets who have reached the same conclusion and have stopped printing the R-word, citing the racist definition. Still, the student editor was suspended for a month and the faculty adviser was suspended for two days without pay for standing up for freedom of the press.” 

Gillian McGoldrick is an editor-in-chief of The Playwickian. She has won awards for her leadership during the legal battle over student press freedoms to act as editors and remove the high school's mascot from the newspaper. She published the editorial, "Why we won't publish the r-word," which won the 2014 Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Student Keystone Press Award.

Gillian was removed from her position of editor for a month this past fall for refusing to publish the mascot name in a letter to the editor. 

She is Philadelphia Magazine's 2014 "Best Philadelphians Truth-to-Power" award winner and Ancil Payne award for Ethics in Journalism from the University of Oregon award winner. She is also a recipient of the 2014 PA ACLU Civil Libertarian award, Courage in Student Journalism award from NSPA and the Student Press Law Center. She is a senior and will be attending Temple University in the fall to pursue a career in Journalism. 

Reed Hennessy is the 2014-2015 editor-in-chief of The Playwickian alongside Gillian McGoldrick. Hennessy began as the Opinion Editor as a freshman and is the first journalist in Playwickian history to hold an editor position for four years.   Hennessy has won various awards for his leading role in a legal and student press rights battle in the Neshaminy School District concerning the ban of their high school mascot in the newspaper on the grounds that the name is racist. 

Hennessy won the 2014 PA ACLU Civil Libertarian award, the Courage in Student Journalism award from the SPLC and NSPA, the Ancil Payne award for Ethics in Journalism from the University of Oregon, and the Edmund J. Sullivan award from the CSPA.

Hennessy is a senior at Neshaminy High School and will be attending the University of Georgia to pursue a career in law.  

“Freedom of the press is a right in our country. NAJA recognizes the courage of the student editor and applauds her leadership,” Talahongva stated.

2015 NAJA Richard LaCourse/Gannett Foundation Al Neuharth Investigative Journalism Award

In partnership with the Gannett Foundation, NAJA offers an annual $5,000 award to recognize groundbreaking investigative work by a journalist or a team that creatively uses digital tools in the role of community watchdog.

The recipient of the 2015 NAJA Richard LaCourse/Gannett Foundation Al Neuharth Investigative Journalism Award is Suzette Brewer. 

Brewer is a writer specializing in federal Indian law and social justice issues, having written extensively on the Indian Child Welfare Act for Indian Country Today Media Network.

She has written for The Dallas Morning News, The Concord Monitor, Native Peoples Magazine, Oklahoma Today Magazine, The Denver Post, and many others. 

She has also served as public affairs officer for the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, and as communications director for the National Indian Gaming Association and the American Indian College Fund.

She holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Mississippi. Her published books include Real Indians: Portraits of Contemporary Native Americans and America's Tribal Colleges; Sovereign: An Oral History of Indian Gaming in America. Coming soon: Thrive: Economic Development in Indian Country.

She is a member of the Cherokee Nation and is from Stilwell, Oklahoma.

2015 National Native Media Awards Banquet July 11

All National Native Media Awards will be presented during the 2015 National Native Media Conference in Washington, D.C., Saturday, July 11.  On this special evening, NAJA honors stories reported from Indian Country and the journalists who tell them.

Amanda Blackhorse (Navajo) will deliver the keynote. Tickets for friends of NAJA and the general public are $85. Those registered for the full National Native Media Conference attend free. More information is available at:  

All award winners who are unable to attend the banquet to pick up their awards in person may request to have awards shipped to them at cost. For more information, please contact Rebecca Landsberry at [email protected].


General registration rates available through June 30

Register today to attend the 2015 National Native Media Conference in Washington, D.C., July 9-12 and #EmpowerYourStory. Take advantage of the discounted conference registration rate of $300 for NAJA members through June 30 by entering the promotional code: EmpowerYourStory when registering online. On-site registration rates will jump to $375 for NAJA members after June 30.

The full agenda with sessions descriptions and speakers is available here: There are several special events that require pre-registration and RSVPs to attend so view the agenda to create a schedule that highlights your interests and builds on your skills as a media pro. 

REGISTER: NAJA Next-Gen Student Luncheon - Friday, July 10

Join NAJA for the 2015 NAJF Student Recognition Luncheon, celebrating the inaugural class of the Native American Journalism Fellowship. Tickets are $60 each, include lunch and may be purchased online

All award winners who are unable to attend the banquet to pick up their awards in person may request to have awards shipped to them at cost. For more information, please contact Rebecca Landsberry at [email protected].