Exploring the medium. #TrahantReports #NextJournalism #Summergigs #SocialMedia #NativeVote16



Introspection day.

Last spring’s crowd-sourcing campaign did not pan out as I expected. I did raise about a month’s worth of work — so it was helpful — but it wasn’t enough to cover the cost of some of the stories I had planned. The biggest disappointment was from media that use my column for free. Several pledged a contribution, but only one actually followed through. So going forward I don’t think I can count on media partners. I need to worker harder to build my own independent platform.

That raises all sorts of questions: Do I keep my content free? Do I create some sort of subscription plan? How would that work in a social media world where people share content? Perhaps look for a way to shift my reporting to a nonprofit? Or even sell my blog to one organization?

The bottom line for me is I fill a void. No one else is covering elections in Indian Country the way I am. And even some of the larger outfits that are covering elections are exclusively focused on the presidential rather than a broad look at all the races in Indian Country. (Which this year, it seems to me, is particularly exciting.)

Whichever route I try I need to raise enough money to get out into the field, and if possible, cover the conventions. What I’d really like to do: Tap into my network of young people and hire an intern or two. I could especially use a producer for my radio reports. Good thoughts for the future.


A quick update about what I do.

Last year wrote more than 150 posts, topics ranging from introducing Native candidates running for office to a village’s quest for sovereignty in Alaska. Most of the stories were posted on trahantreports.com and then reposted by other media. This includes:  Indianz.com, posting more than 70 stories; Indian Country Today Media Network, 61 stories since last year; NativeNewsOnline.Net more than 40 stories; as well as New America Media, High Country News, Daily Yonder, Blue Nation Review, and Al Jazeera.

I have also produced for more than a year now a weekly audio commentary distributed via Native Voice One that’s available for tribal radio stations or accessed over the Internet. One option is to find an underwriter for the audio program and really concentrate on that (meaning less time for the posts). Right now the commentary is provided by me for free as a service.

I am particularly proud of my post (and idea) to create an American Indian tribal primary. I think it has real potential and I will keep working on it.

In addition to the conventions, I am building what could be the most exhaustive list of Native American candidates and elected officials. I have more than 80 names in my spread sheet. I will release that story after filing deadlines in June. It includes candidates for county commissions, city councils, and state legislatures. This cycle we may have as many as a dozen Native Americans running for Congress. If even a few are elected, we will significantly increase the 0.37 representation in the Congress now.

Thanks again for your help. I’m eager to learn what you think might work to support this enterprise.

— Mark

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Mark Trahant

Mark Trahant is an independent journalist. He currently serves as the Charles R. Johnson Professor at the University of North Dakota.

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