Transparency: New year brings election reports & changes to Trahant Reports


Trahant Reports

Every so often I like to post an update about the mechanics of Trahant Reports. I write often that transparency is a value in the digital world — and so that must include my work.

Trahant Reports, of course, is an unusual business. I give away my words for free. Every column posted on my blog is free for the taking by other media. It’s also found on my blog, Apple News, and across social media platforms. Once in a while people pay me anyway — thank you — and others, occasionally, commission pieces directly. But the bulk of my reporting is free use. My goal is to keep it that way.

How does that work? I try to make it up with paid speeches. I had planned last year on turning some of my work into a book that I could sell. In fact I sort of reserved the summer months for just that. Then the Republicans set out to repeal the Affordable Care Act and I was compelled to write everything I could on the topic. (I produced some 85,000 words on Indian health, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act.)

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Authory database

I also fixed a recurring problem: Saving my material in a searchable form. (So far I only have 2017 available but I am working on a solution to back further in time.) Here is link to my archive database, via Authory.

But I also wrote less in 2017 than I did in 2016. Last year I posted 109 pieces. The year before that it was 157. Why so few? I didn’t get lazy. It’s just 2016 was an election year. I am thinking that 2018 will require a lot more posts. (Speaking of that I am working now on my database of Native American candidates for Congress, state offices, and state legislatures. I should have a new graphic and post soon.) Please help: If you know of a candidate, drop me a note. Here is the #NativeVote18 list that I am updating.

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Trahant Reports is also a broadcast and podcast. Every Monday morning I post a 3-minute commentary for Native Voice One. This year I did a little fundraising for this project — shout outs to First Peoples Worldwide, Norm DeWeaver, Shawn White Wolf and Gerald Sherman. This year I also produced three half hour special reports, one on climate change, another on health care, and a preview of the 2018 election cycle. There will be more audio in my future. And, ideally, I would like this part of my operation to be self-sufficient (even though all of the content remains free for tribal radio stations, other nonprofit users, and listeners.)

As many of you know, I also write daily news rhymes on Twitter … @NewsRimes4lines. I have been doing that since the Seattle P-I days. I took a break while I was out of the country, but I’ll start it up again next week. It’s not really a part of my business. But I like the discipline of writing something first thing in the morning. And it’s fun.

There are two big changes ahead for me next year.

The first one is after May I will no longer be an academic. I still want to find a ways to work with young people but for me it’s hard to do that in a university setting. I don’t want to worry about grades or lesson plans. Instead I’ll focus on news, our history, trends, and what we can learn. I am not sure how this will work as a practical matter … but after May my “free” operation will have to be self-sustaining.

Then that leads to the second big change. I will be working with FNX on a new TV magazine show. We’re naming it Wassaja — as a tribute to so many of the great journalists from previous eras. We have been working hard on the first few shows and hope to debut the 60-minute production this spring. As they say on TV … stay tuned.

Thanks again for a great year. Trahant out.


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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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