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Neuharth: News media 'have failed Native Americans'

By: Mayo Finch, Mark Francis, Patrick Delabrue and Mark C. Maxon
American Indian Journalism Institute students


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Al Neuharth
Al Neuharth welcomes 24 Native American students to the 2004 class of the American Indian Journalism Institute.

VERMILLION, S.D. — Al Neuharth apologized to a group of Native American journalism students during the opening ceremonies of the 2004 American Indian Journalism Institute.

“We have failed Native Americans,” said Neuharth, founder of the Freedom Forum and USA TODAY. “American Indians are the most under-represented group in journalism.”

In his speech to the new class of AIJI students, Neuharth expressed his disappointment with the media community at large for failing to recruit and retain Native American journalists.

Neuharth noted that there are 313 Native American journalists in a national pool of 54,000 reporters, photographers and editors working at daily newspapers.

His speech set the tone for the 24 students from 19 states and one Canadian province attending the fourth annual American Indian Journalism Institute, a project of the Freedom Forum that is designed to introduce Native American college students to journalism education and possible internships at daily newspapers.

Neuharth, 80, urged the students to always tell the truth.

“Accuracy and fairness come above all else,” he said, discussing the recent scandals of fabricated stories at The New York Times and USA TODAY.

Neuharth stressed the importance of beginning careers at small or weekly newspapers to get hands-on experience rather than at larger dailies.

“At a newspaper such at The Washington Post or New York Times, there are no opportunities for routine tasks,” he said, explaining that jobs at large newspapers deter beginners from getting set routines and learning their craft.

Mayo Finch, Mark Francis, Patrick Delabrue and Mark C. Maxon are students at the American Indian Journalism Institute. Finch, Nez Perce, attends Lane Community College in Eugene, Ore. Francis, Creek, attends East Central University in Ada, Okla. Delabrue, Menominee, attends College of Menominee Nation in Keshena, Wis. Maxon, Cheyenne River Sioux, attends the University of South Dakota in Vermillion.


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