You have to be careful with the stories you tell. And you have to watch out for the stories that you are told.
I hope you found this guide useful. If any of the information or advice within helps you tell a more complete, balanced news story, then it served its purpose.
As you set out to research and report in Indian Country, let one principle guide you: respect.
Respect is deeply embedded within traditional Aboriginal teachings, and it’s a fundamental value not always appreciated by outsiders or extended to Aboriginal peoples.
Cynical reporters may scoff at this, bearing witness as we often do to the many forms of violence Aboriginal people inflict upon each other, or the bitter internal political disputes that sometimes threaten to tear Aboriginal communities apart. So much for “traditional teachings,” you may rightly say.
But, good things will happen, if you:
- respect people’s customs and traditions;
- show a genuine interest in learning;
- recognize there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to Aboriginal peoples; and
- nurture relationships.
You’ll discover a goldmine of news stories, be treated to inside scoops, and your belly will be bursting from a steady diet of rubber chicken at all those journalism award dinners.
Who knows? You may even develop relationships that flourish outside the narrow confines of a newsroom and a front-page story.
You, your stories and your audience will be richer for it.