NAJA calls for ethical, informed ICWA reporting

Posted by Rebecca Landsberry on 03/25/2016

The Native American Journalists Association addresses deficient coverage of the child-welfare case involving Choctaw family; Will create a guide for reporters covering the Indian Child Welfare Act

NORMAN, Okla. -- The Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) is disheartened by some of the mainstream reporting on the recent adoption case involving a Choctaw Nation child and a non-Native adoptive couple in Los Angeles County.

While NAJA understands that the court-ordered custody change attempted by the California Department of Children and Family Services was emotionally charged, it is our steadfast belief that journalistic standards of reporting must prevail.

Indeed, when reporting about issues with great emotional and human impact, honoring the ethical values of accuracy, fair sourcing and the proper provision of context should be the guiding principles that ensure good journalism. When reporting on this case specifically, NAJA urges all media to include essential background on this case and the Indian Child Welfare Act in order to provide the context necessary for their audience to fully understand this complex story.

As an organization dedicated to encouraging our own members to attain the highest ethical standings in their work, NAJA strongly encourages both mainstream and Native American media outlets to both seek truth and minimize harm, in accordance with the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Code of Ethics.

Journalists may refer to statements issued by the National Indian Child Welfare Association here, and the National Congress of American Indians here, to glean a broader perspective and to locate additional sources.

In response to the arbitrary reporting by mainstream media on this national story, NAJA will also be releasing a reporting guide to aid reporters and editors when covering cases that fall under the Indian Child Welfare Act.

For additional resources and information on covering Indian Country, visit the NAJA Legal Resource Room or contact Interim Executive Director Rebecca Landsberry at [email protected].