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

#NativeVote16 – Game plan

Game plan. #NativeVote16
I’ll watch Wisconsin tonight and see if there is something I can add, if not, I plan to stay focused on two other stories.

Next congressional profile, Joe Pakootas. There is also a lot of action with candidates for state legislatures, now more than 80 across country. I’d say that’s record territory but since it’s never been measured before I have nothing to compare the number with.

— Mark

#NativeVote16 – Planning ahead.

I am catching up on grading papers … and working on these stories. I really want to explain why polling is so ineffective for Indian Country. (More evidence that Indian Country ought to have our own primary.)

** Folks say Clinton, or Sanders, will easily defeat Trump. Problem is we have no idea what a general election will look like because Trump is not a Republican. He’s a populist. (I think I’ll go back and look at elections with other populists running.) But one area that Trump could be a factor is Congress. There are some seats that will be in play with Trump heading the Republican ticket. Enough for 30 seats? Time to do some math. — Mark

#NativeVote16 – Planning for a constitutional crisis




I learned something interesting yesterday about how stories travel via social media. I measure every story and look how it’s used on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, as well as Indianz, Indian Country Today Media Network, News from Indian Country, and Native News Online.  (I Really like the flattering display in Daily Yonder this week. Thank you!)

On Facebook my traffic lately has been picking up since the Iowa caucus. I have had a couple of posts that have topped 30,000 views and I regularly reach a couple of thousand. But not yesterday. My story about presidential aspirations fell way flat, only reaching 454 readers (let alone viewed). What gives? I was thinking about this all night and then this morning it hit me: I teach social media, I should know this. Facebook uses an algorithm that favors native video over YouTube. I used a YouTube video in my piece as an illustration. Something as simple as that loses you readership. Fascinating.


CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS – As I have written a lot, I believe there are at least four “parties” in the U.S. For most of US history that’s been masked by including various wings under Democratic or Republican flags. We will know before March 15 if former NYC Mayor Micheal Bloomberg is running. He has money (much more than Trump) so he could be a serious contender. But don’t forget that conservatives are not happy with the prospect of a Trump nomination. I think it’s likely that a conservative will run as a third-party candidate. Study the 12th amendment. The US once had a lot of chaos in presidential elections and I think we’re headed that way again. If there are four candidates and all four win states (all it would take is Bloomberg in NY and a conservative in Texas) then the House of Representatives decides the election. It’s required to pick from the top 3. But that would mean a candidate could win one state, Texas, and then move into the White House.

TUESDAY – Watch turnout. The real story so far about the “Feel the Bern” movement is how few voters are showing up. If you want just one example, look at Elko County were participation was down by some 30 percent since the Obama-Clinton race in 2008. Are millennials just posting love on Facebook? Or are they voting? Tuesday should give us a clearer picture.


Next Monday Speaking at Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Energy Summit. Will use this to wrap up series on energy, climate and the 2016 election.

— Mark



#NativeVote16 – Story ideas range from climate issues to “the Native primary.”

Housekeeping. Planning day.

I am still researching and writing the energy and climate (part 3) post. I am giving a speech next week on this topic, so it’s a good time to finish the piece. There is a lot going on and it has election ramifications, especially because more federal spending will be required to keep up with damage and infrastructure needs associated with climate change.


Another piece I’d like to write soon is about how a third-place finisher could win the White House. As the presidential field narrows, we could be returning to the historical problem of a split electoral college. If there are three candidates and one of those candidates *cough * Ted Cruz * cough * can win a large state such as Texas that would be enough to prevent the other two candidates from winning 270 electoral votes. IF that happens, the House gets to pick the next president. The only constitutional criteria is that the next president will be chosen from top 3 finishers.


I have a cool idea. If I can find the time. So what if I pulled the precinct votes from Iowa, Nevada, and So Carolina, and created a “NativeVote16” primary election? I could add to a spreadsheet after every new primary. This would be a look at how Indian Country wants to be the next president using actual votes instead of polling.  (Any data wonks want to help?)


I am still working on a story/data/chart for state legislative candidates. I talked to a couple of candidates last week who told me they would be filing soon and I should hold off. I think I might wait until late March to get as many names as possible. (Previous story here.)


Finally I am pitching a couple of video stories to networks. Two purposes: Broader audience for #NativeVote16 stories. And, it will help me finance more stories. I’d especially like to have enough resources to cover party conventions this year. (Either that or I need to find a summer job.) (Previous video here. )

I posted a book outline and I have had talks with several book publishers and editors. There is not a lot of interest; mostly because of the time factor. I could produce the book myself (like I did with The Last Great Battle) but I would need to find outside money to make that happen. I am reviewing foundations that are interested in democracy & voting to see if that might be possible.

Feel free to weigh in with comments, suggestions and ideas.

That’s enough reflection. Back to work.

— Mark Trahant

#nativevote16 – weekend writing plan

To. much. To. do.

Catch up on campaign news, look ahead to Nevada, and finish writing energy & climate series.

Whew. Then work on book.

From @trahantreports Twitter feed this week:

Rethink First in the Nation? Iowa’s Native American population 1/2 of 1 percent. New Hampshire? 2/10th of one percent. #NativeVote16

#NativeVote16 – Plan for next few weeks





A holiday weekend update, housekeeping.

My plan is to produce a book in January that will serve as a guide to the elections for Indian Country. The rough outline is posted above, but I am refining a couple of the chapters. One thought: If I can find a sponsor of some kind, I could make the publication free. That will certainly easily work with an online edition, and, perhaps I can  find a way to give away free copies at major conferences.

Also new material today. My latest social media graphic, looking at traffic for #NativeVote16. The goal of this project is to measure interest in the election from those using #NativeVote16 hashtag.

Finally, posting later today, this week’s column. I am writing about climate change as an election issue.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for sharing. And please send election ideas my way.







#NativeVote16 – Draft spreadsheet of elected Native officials

This chart is not finished. I need add a location to every name so that I can geocode and make the map. I also don’t have every person’s tribal affiliation, photograph, and links to their web sites.

But …

I thought I would post now so that people can send me more names. Once this chart is completed, I will work on a similar list for mayors, city councils and school boards.

I should note: The primary source for state legislative offices is the Native American Caucus of the National Conference of State Legislators.

Native American elected officials 2015 –

Senator John McCoy, D-Tulalip, from Washington state.


Thanks. Mark



#NativeVote16 – Housekeeping notes: Reworking blog framework, readership and more


Behind the scenes. More housekeeping to start the week.

I am working on a few changes to TrahantReports.com

First, I am adding a new page for press releases and other election-related material. My idea is to make Trahant Reports a catch all for anything related to politics and Indian Country. 

Second, I am working on a distinct page just for spreadsheets and other data. A Native Elections Data Center. Working now on a nationwide graphic that looks at Native American vote by state and congressional district. 

Third, my blogging software does not work well with interactive features. I like the idea of graphics that are simple and interactive. I am using wordpress.com for the theme and hosting it on GoDaddy. I understand if I move the host to wordpress.org, then I can get plug-ins for interactive features.
Story-wise: I think I’ll start posting a list of ideas to show what’s ahead. 

We’re less than 90 days away from first presidential vote and at the point where lots of candidates for Congress, state legislatures, are gearing up.

— Mark
(P.S. I am still experimenting with distribution methods, a mix of blogging, social media, and working with traditional news organizations. Two of last week’s posts, Denise Juneau and Canadian cabinet will have a direct social media readership of at least 10,000 each. Juneau’s story has 409 shares on Facebook. So far. That’s pretty cool. Thank you.)

#NativeVote16 – Housekeeping notes for Trahant Reports

My first election map is posted, a look at the six candidates running for the U.S. House of Representatives. How does it work? First tab is the spreadsheet, the second converts that information to note cards, and the third tab is an interactive map. I’ll be using a similar spreadsheet for other offices.

Let’s put that map in perspective: We need to elect seven Native Americans if the House is to represent Indian Country (at least from a demographic point of view). To reach that goal we need a higher percentage of candidates runnings. As I pointed out in a recent post about Canada, you gotta run to win. 

Speaking of Canada, that’s a good model. It took 54 candidates running to elect 10 as Members of Parliament. To hit that same level in the states we will need at least 36 candidates.


I am going to make this blog the catch-all place for the #NativeVote16 election. So in addition to what I am writing, I will post press releases and other material. To make it easier to find things, I’ll create another page soon to break out the material I don’t write.

Readership is growing. Trahant Reports had more than 7,400 visitors in recent days and one post had 1,300 views. How about 10,000 visitors and 5,000 views? 


Remember the app? If you’re interested in Trahant Reports sign up for the free app.  (Or join as a subscriber via the blog.) 

Why is this important? Because as the volume of material increases, it’s less likely the information will show up in other media (at least right away). It would be helpful to me to have a larger direct readership here on the blog, on Twitter,  and on Facebook.

Thanks for reading. Suggestions, names of candidates, or story ideas are always welcome.