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2nd American Indian Journalism Institute under way in South Dakota

06.07.02

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VERMILLION, S.D. — Twenty-six Native American college students representing 21 tribes in 15 states and one Canadian province are on the University of South Dakota campus June 2-21 attending the second annual American Indian Journalism Institute.

The Freedom Forum Neuharth Center is fully funding the academic journalism program and running it in a partnership with USDís Department of Contemporary Media and Journalism. Those who successfully complete the three-week course will receive four hours of college credit from USD that they can transfer back to their tribal colleges and universities.

AIJI gives college sophomores, juniors and seniors the opportunity to train as newspaper reporters, editors and photographers. Follow-up programs for institute graduates include paid internships at three daily newspapers, further schooling and assistance with eventual job placement.

The summer institute is one of the most significant journalism programs ever directed at American Indian college students, according to USD journalism Professor Ramon Chavez, who is leading the institute teaching staff and is USDís journalism department chairman.

"The American Indian Journalism Institute will be the first chance for many tribal college students to study journalism," Chavez said. Their schools typically lack journalism classes and school newspapers, the most common route to journalism careers.

The American Indian Journalism Institute is part of the Freedom Forumís commitment to increase employment diversity at daily newspapers. "Improving diversity — having just one Native American working in a newsroom — makes a newspaper more aware of Indians in its community, and more sensitive and intelligent in reporting stories about them," said Jack Marsh, director of the Freedom Forum Neuharth Center at the USD.

American Indians are by far the most underrepresented people of color in the news media — and stereotypical and erroneous newspaper coverage of Indian issues and Indian people shows it, said Marsh. Estimates of the number of Native Americans working at daily newspapers range up to about 300 — out of more than 55,000 journalists nationwide.

According to Marsh, director of the summer institute, students are taking a concentrated academic program teaching the basics of journalism in a university-approved course titled "Journalism Theory and Practice."

Students concentrate for one week each on reporting, editing and photography, and help publish a newspaper. Weekly field trips introduce students to other aspects of journalism and give students the opportunity to shadow working journalists. AIJI students are visiting the Associated Press bureau in Sioux Falls, the studios of KSFY-Television, the Argus Leader newsroom in Sioux Falls, the Indian reservation in Winnebago, Neb., and the home stadium of the Iowa Cubs in Des Moines as guests of ballclub owner and Freedom Forum trustee Michael Gartner.

Faculty and guest presenters include prominent professional journalists, many of whom are Native American. Among those joining Chavez on the faculty are University of Montana journalism Professor Denny McAuliffe, Argus Leader assistant photo chief Val Hoeppner, former Los Angeles Times reporter Victor Merina and AP Senior Photo Editor Fred Sweets.

Guest speakers for AIJI include Al Neuharth, South Dakota Gov. William Janklow, Gannett general news executive George Benge, Freedom Forum trustee Mark Trahant, former Indian Country Today writer Kay Humphrey and Newseum Managing Editor Peggy Engel.

The students covered South Dakotaís primary election on June 4 and produced stories on deadline for a simulated wire service — the Neuharth Newswire — and produced four editions of a desktop publication. The wire serviceís lone subscriber, Al Neuharth, received copies of the publication in his Cocoa Beach home throughout the night.

Related

American Indian Journalism Institute
Information on 2002 institute for Native American college students on the basics of journalism.  05.09.02

Columnist encourages Native American students to tell their stories
George Benge says more Indians needed in newsrooms because of cultural understanding they can bring to stories.  06.18.02

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