Bingo: Reporting in Indian Country Edition

NORMAN, Okla. - The Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) issued a new tool for newsrooms covering Indigenous communities: a Bingo board. 

Bingo: Reporting in Indian Country Edition was developed by NAJA in partnership with High Country News to bring attention to cliches and stereotypes that often appear in stories focused on tribal affairs in the United States.

While bingo is generally a game of chance, the Reporting in Indian Country Edition is designed to catch overused and hackneyed ideas employed by newsrooms. Bingo tiles includes words, phrases and ideas like “Alcohol” and “Poverty” as well as “Vanishing Culture” and “Dying Language." 

Like regular Bingo, every time one of these idea tiles appears in your story, you can mark your board. More marks may signal boilerplate storytelling or a lack of experience reporting in Indian Country.

According to the bingo board’s instructions “If you score a ‘Bingo,’ consider killing your story and contact a consultant at the Native American Journalists Association for advice on ways to improve your storytelling in Indigenous communities.”

While the NAJA/High Country News bingo board is intended to be playful, it underlines serious issues in the journalism industry: a heavy reliance of stereotypes and a lack of sustained interest in covering Indian Country.

“Because news organizations often refuse to commit time, energy or resources to covering Indigenous communities in real or meaningful ways, coverage is often shallow and formulaic,” says Tristan Ahtone, NAJA vice president. “The bingo board is designed to draw attention to stereotypes and cultural bias reporters employ when framing their stories. It’s the responsibility of journalists to combat cliches in order to ensure that information is accurate, fair and thorough.”

There is no cost to access the resource guide, which is available for download on the NAJA website at: http://www.naja.com/resources/bingo-reporting-in-indian-country-edition/.

For additional resources and information on covering Indian Country, visit www.naja.com.