NAJA members Al Neuharth and Jack Marsh speak to high school students in South Dakota during the 2012 Crazy Horse Journalism Workshop. Photo credit: Charles Pulliam.
NORMAN, Okla. -- The Native American Journalists Association was deeply
saddened this evening to learn of the loss of USA Today founder Al
Neuharth, who was instrumental in the founding of our organization and a
strong partner in NAJA's mission of supporting Native Americans
Mr. Neuharth, who died Friday, was one of the
greatest innovators in modern journalism and a leader in pushing for
newsroom diversity. He is likely best known for his revolutionary
contributions to the larger journalism industry, but many NAJA members
also will remember him fondly for his many contributions to Native
"Al Neuharth was a great supporter of NAJA and a supporter of many of us personally," longtime journalist and former NAJA president Mark Trahant said. "He
was also a promoter of programs, such as the American Indian
Journalism Institute, that brought more American Indians and Alaska
Natives into journalism than any other program of its kind."
Mr. Neuharth held a NAJA lifetime membership. In addition, he was a
founder of the Freedom Forum, which introduced hundreds of Native
American students to journalism through the Crazy Horse Journalism
Workshop and American Indian Journalism Institute, or AIJI.
Both programs were held in Mr. Neuharth's home state of South
Dakota, where every year he visited and inspired students taking part
in the programs.
Through the Freedom Forum, his work
went beyond mere advocacy. The Crazy Horse Journalism Workshop paired
Native American high school students with working journalists to develop
news stories for a printed newspaper. AIJI provided an intensive
journalism boot camp for Native American college students to prepare
for jobs in journalism. The program launched the careers of dozens of
Native American Journalists working in the industry today and
established a strong professional network for them.
NAJA is grateful to Mr. Neuharth for the contributions he made to
Indian Country through journalism and his overall support for our
organization. The NAJA board, staff and members send their most sincere
condolences to his friends and family.