Letter from the Board of Directors to members of the Native American Journalists Association

Dear Members,

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our communities, jobs and lives, our thoughts and sympathies are with you. We hope you and your families are staying healthy and safe. 

At NAJA, we have continued to monitor both domestic and international efforts to save lives and protect communities from the coronavirus. We have also watched as our members have stepped up to cover the pandemic, the ways it is reshaping our lives, and the ways communities are working to protect themselves from both the virus and federal officials and policies that make COVID-19 even more deadly to our nations.

It’s in that spirit that we want to share with you how we’re working to support members during this time. 

Through our recent survey, we learned that challenges to personal and professional finances remain at the forefront of newsroom worries, as well as requests for assistance with logistics, emotional wellness, training and skills building and concern for how Indigenous communities are being covered by non-Indigenous journalists. We have begun to address this feedback by doing the following:

All current NAJA memberships will be extended for a year. If you have already paid your annual dues through 2021, your membership will automatically be extended through 2022.  

Annual membership extensions are the first step in responding to the NAJA COVID-19 Membership Survey, which will continue to inform and support the organization’s next steps for COVID-19 relief. The survey will remain open indefinitely for feedback. 

We will postpone the 2020 National Native Media Conference. Safety is our number one priority and we believe that waiting until next year to gather together and celebrate our work is the most responsible option to avoid potential outbreaks or additional strains on already stretched finances. This will mean coming up with creative solutions to long-standing NAJA traditions, like board elections which occur each year at conference, and we hope you will join us at our next board meeting to give input on how to handle the situation.

While we wait to visit with you again, we need your help with a few items: First, if you haven’t already filled out our survey, please do. Second, please reach out to us for suggestions or to attend our next virtual board meeting on Thursday, May 28, 2020, at 6 p.m. CDT at: contact@naja.com.

Your input will help NAJA leadership make decisions that will be best for everyone.

Again, we hope that you, your families, colleagues and communities are safe and healthy. We look forward to seeing all of you again next year in Phoenix for what will likely be a historic conference, and that you will continue to let us know how we can help. 

Tristan Ahtone, President

On behalf of the NAJA Board of Directors