“We’re not a newspaper; we’re not a webpage. The web product we’re designing is with that in mind.” –Mark Trahant
Jason Salsman/Multimedia Producer
Acclaimed Native journalist excited to take ‘Indian Country Today’ in new direction
WASHINGTON, D.C. — “Mobile, mobile, mobile!”
Those were the words out of ‘Indian Country Today’s’ new editor Mark Trahant’s mouth when asked about his desired direction for the national Native American news media outlet.
“I believe all of the work should be designed for the cell phone,” Trahant said. “It is our distribution vehicle. We’re not a newspaper; we’re not a webpage. The web product we’re designing is with that in mind.”
There is a lot of new going around at ‘ICT’ these days. There is a new direction, new editor and new ownership. The National Congress of American Indians took the reins from New York’s Oneida Nation at the beginning of February.
‘ICT’ had been on a hiatus after closing in September, coincidentally during a time when the Native American Journalists Association had gathered for its annual conference.
“We had kind of some ad hoc meetings and started talking about what the hiatus meant for the field,” Trahant said. “As the meetings with NCAI developed, it became clear that they wanted me to try and run it.”
Trahant himself has carved out quite a legacy in journalism. His background includes stops at the ‘Seattle Times,’ ‘Arizona Republic,’ ‘Navajo Times’ and a stint as president of the Native American Journalists Association. He also was a jury finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
But it is the absence of legacy at ‘ICT’ where Trahant sees the greatest potential. Specifically, the absence of legacy media (radio, television newspaper, etc.) costs.
“You’re starting off with an audience of readers without any of the legacy costs that drive people in the media wild,” Trahant said. “That’s just a huge advantage because we can do things differently.”
Trahant stressed another goal was partnerships with Native journalists and outlets nationwide. In fact, he is on the lookout for journalists with wire service experience to share and disseminate news concerning tribes and their citizens on the revamped ‘ICT’ website.
He also wants outlets to share ‘ICT’ material, at no cost with proper attribution.
“Anything we publish, I want any tribal medium to be able to use it whenever they need it,” Trahant said. “Hopefully that will reciprocate down the road so we’ll use tribal publications. Because I think public service is the main reason to do this. And that means you get out of this idea of competition and instead figure out the best way to tell these large scale stories.”
Trahant will finish out the spring semester as a faculty member at the University of North Dakota before he moves to Washington, D.C. to begin his new full-time job in May.