NAJA mourns loss of USA Today founder Al Neuharth

Posted on 04/19/2013

Al Neuharth and Jack Marsh speak to high school students in April 2012 at the Crazy Horse Journalism Workshop. Photo credit: Charles Pulliam

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 journalists. 

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 journalism. 

"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.