20200
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7

Taking a cue from Indigenous journalists on climate change

“Indigenous journalists provide distinctive approaches for thinking differently about borders, ecological issues, and the deep relevance of histories of colonialism.”

In 2020, unless there is significant change, Indigenous journalists and communities in the U.S. and Canada will continue to push back against poor mainstream news coverage. Indigenous people remain underrepresented in vastly white newsrooms — so underrepresented in U.S. media that Indigenous journalists often don’t merit a mention in those news organizations that do report on diversity.

Indigenous journalists, meanwhile, have continued to build their own news organizations and have, as my coauthor Mary Lynn Young and I argue in our new book, Reckoning: Journalism’s Limits and Possibilities, also developed transformative approaches to doing journalism. Indigenous journalists are more likely to recognize their own knowledge and experience as expertise and to situate themselves in relation to communities, lands, and waters. They’re leading the way on how to report on complex issues like climate change that bring into focus the global costs, losses, and histories of colonialism. Indigenous journalists are also more likely to recognize how settler colonialism persists in structures and institutions (including media) and how vital it is to access diverse Indigenous knowledge in charting adaptive pathways forward in a future with more drastic ecological changes.

The past few years have seen an increase in reporting on Indigenous issues and communities in both the U.S. and Canada. Part of that is a result of major resistance events like Standing Rock in North Dakota, the Wet’suwet’en encampment in British Columbia, and the ongoing work to protect Mauna Kea in Hawai’i. Yet it’s often Indigenous-led news sources or Indigenous insight and expert analysis via social media that provide in-depth coverage and understanding of what’s happening on the ground, as well as the broader colonial context. Indigenous publics are actively using digital platforms to push back against mainstream media and to mobilize for and with Indigenous communities globally who are also engaged in struggles over their own concerns.

How news organizations report on resistance to development that impacts lands, waters, and nonhumans has to change. Indigenous journalists provide distinctive approaches for thinking differently about borders, ecological issues, and the deep relevance of histories of colonialism, and offer a framework for considering relations between humans and nonhumans, lands, and waters. For Indigenous communities, these relations have been evolving since time immemorial and are place-specific. Accountability extends then to the web of relations in which one is situated as a journalist — and those to whom a journalist is obligated includes nonhumans, lands, and waters.

Candis Callison is an associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Journalism and Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies.

In 2020, unless there is significant change, Indigenous journalists and communities in the U.S. and Canada will continue to push back against poor mainstream news coverage. Indigenous people remain underrepresented in vastly white newsrooms — so underrepresented in U.S. media that Indigenous journalists often don’t merit a mention in those news organizations that do report on diversity.

Indigenous journalists, meanwhile, have continued to build their own news organizations and have, as my coauthor Mary Lynn Young and I argue in our new book, Reckoning: Journalism’s Limits and Possibilities, also developed transformative approaches to doing journalism. Indigenous journalists are more likely to recognize their own knowledge and experience as expertise and to situate themselves in relation to communities, lands, and waters. They’re leading the way on how to report on complex issues like climate change that bring into focus the global costs, losses, and histories of colonialism. Indigenous journalists are also more likely to recognize how settler colonialism persists in structures and institutions (including media) and how vital it is to access diverse Indigenous knowledge in charting adaptive pathways forward in a future with more drastic ecological changes.

The past few years have seen an increase in reporting on Indigenous issues and communities in both the U.S. and Canada. Part of that is a result of major resistance events like Standing Rock in North Dakota, the Wet’suwet’en encampment in British Columbia, and the ongoing work to protect Mauna Kea in Hawai’i. Yet it’s often Indigenous-led news sources or Indigenous insight and expert analysis via social media that provide in-depth coverage and understanding of what’s happening on the ground, as well as the broader colonial context. Indigenous publics are actively using digital platforms to push back against mainstream media and to mobilize for and with Indigenous communities globally who are also engaged in struggles over their own concerns.

How news organizations report on resistance to development that impacts lands, waters, and nonhumans has to change. Indigenous journalists provide distinctive approaches for thinking differently about borders, ecological issues, and the deep relevance of histories of colonialism, and offer a framework for considering relations between humans and nonhumans, lands, and waters. For Indigenous communities, these relations have been evolving since time immemorial and are place-specific. Accountability extends then to the web of relations in which one is situated as a journalist — and those to whom a journalist is obligated includes nonhumans, lands, and waters.

Candis Callison is an associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Journalism and Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies.

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