NAJA elects new board officers, members at 2016 Excellence In Journalism conference

Posted by NAJA on 09/26/2016

NEW ORLEANS - Bryan Pollard, Director of Tribal Relations for the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas School of Law, became president of the Native American Journalists Association on Sept. 21 after a unanimous decision by the NAJA board of directors.

Tristan Ahtone, a freelance reporter based in New Mexico, is now vice president, Darren Brown, of Cheyenne and Arapaho Television, will act as secretary, and newly elected board member Jennifer Bell, director of public information for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, will serve as treasurer. 

New board members Bell, Dr. Victoria LaPoe, Ramona Marozas and Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton were elected by NAJA membership at the 2016 Excellence in Journalism Conference in New Orleans filling the seats vacated by Jason Begay, Dalton Walker, Eugene Tapahe and Rob Capriccioso. Krehbiel-Burton will serve a two-year team to complete Capriccioso’s term.

Pollard graduated from Louisiana State University and has served as the executive editor of the Cherokee Phoenix as well as the founding managing editor of Street Roots, a non-profit newspaper focusing on issues affecting the homeless and low-income community in Portland, Oregon. He is a lifetime member of NAJA and the 2014 recipient of the Medill Milestone Achievement Award, a recognition for outstanding contributions to Native journalism.

Pollard said that his main goal during his upcoming presidency is to implement a strategic fundraising plan to increase the organizations overall budget and capacity to serve its members. 

“NAJA can only be as effective as our bottom line allows us to be. The board must serve the urgent need to increase our grant and gift revenue so that we can expand important programs like the student projects and support for free press efforts in Indian Country. We will have a strategic fund development plan to guide this effort.”

Another goal is to develop and publish a series of reporting guides to help mainstream journalists accurately report on issues in Indian Country.

“Accurate and well-sourced reporting is more important now than ever in Indian Country,” Pollard said. “Whether you are a tribal journalist reporting on casino revenues or a mainstream journalist reporting on the Indian Child Welfare Act or the use of racial mascots, NAJA will be a firm and consistent voice demanding accurate and ethical reporting.”

Ahtone said another goal will be to make NAJA a resource for ethical reporting in Indian Country and newsroom diversity.

“It’s not simply a matter of hiring indigenous journalists, it’s about recognizing the need for a broader newsroom culture that prioritizes reporting in Indian Country and other communities of culture so that the need for those experts and professionals are seen at every level.”