NAJA responds to tweets sent by Katie Frates, reporter for the Daily Caller
Katie Frates, an associate editor for the Daily Caller News Foundation, tweeted she would risk being arrested in order to "run over" the “NativeNationsRise” protesters during the Native Nations March on Washington March 10 in D.C. She deleted the tweet later that same day.
Though expressing this level of malice toward Native people is unfortunate, it is objectionable coming from a member of the press.
Victoria LaPoe, Ph.D., (Cherokee) serves as an assistant professor at Western Kentucky University and as current NAJA Education Committee Chair. She condemned the remarks as racist and extremely offensive to Native Americans.
“It is unacceptable for anyone, but especially journalists, to make racist and violent comments toward Native people. Suggesting violence towards this country’s original residents, in what now serves as the nation’s capital, is symbolic and particularly hurtful considering the atrocities endured. Anyone within the profession should be outraged by these remarks,” LaPoe said.
Within the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, it states:
“Boldly tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience. Seek sources whose voices we seldom hear.”
Native people are marginalized in American society and important stories are seldom told by mainstream news. Journalists bear a particular ethical responsibility to treat marginalized people and communities with fairness.
Journalists have a solemn duty to speak truth to power and to provide context to complex issues and events. This responsibility requires thoughtful understanding, compassion for others and disciplined insight. Inciting violence or harm to people in the form of an act is neither going to help communities understand each other nor help society receive well-sourced information.
NAJA board member Jennifer Bell (Citizen Potawatomi Nation / Cherokee) also reminded journalists of their duty to protect and uphold First Amendment freedoms guaranteeing speech and peaceful protest.
“... remarks that such actions are deserving of being ‘run over’ because they cause a slight traffic delay is irresponsible,” Bell said.
The NAJA board encourages Editor-in-Chief Vince Coglianese and Executive Editor Paul Connor to remind Frates of her ethical responsibilities and invites Frates to attend the 2017 Excellence In Journalism conference Sept. 7-9 as a guest of NAJA. Attendees can expect training on ethics, inclusion and best practices for covering Native American communities.
Rhonda LeValdo captured a screenshot of Frates’ tweet, which has since been deleted from the @theworldsfrates account.