Report for America announces 2020-21 Indigenous affairs corps members

Native American Journalists Association will train and mentor Indigenous affairs reporters in mainstream outlets across the U.S.

Report for America hired six Indigenous reporters and will support 18 total positions focused on Indigenous affairs in outlets across the U.S., as part of the 2020-2021 class. These journalists are part of RFA’s 2020 corps totalling 225 emerging journalists committed to addressing critical coverage gaps across the country.

RFA is a national service program that places talented, emerging journalists into local news organizations to report for one to two years on under-covered issues and communities. Both newsrooms and journalists apply to participate in the program and RFA corps members remain full-time employees of their newsrooms.  

The Native American Journalists Association’s partnership with RFA aims to strengthen local journalism in areas where Indigenous peoples play vital roles in the community. In 2019-2020, RFA had 10 corps members covering Indigenous affairs exclusively or through related beats. The partnership represents an unprecedented commitment to increasing local reporting for Indigenous communities in the U.S. 

By contributing to RFA’s mentorship program, NAJA will provide comprehensive support on training to address the critical need for journalism in Indigenous communities. NAJA will extend ethical, culturally competent guidance to corps members and host newsrooms, along with deep expertise on reporting in Indian Country, helping news organizations develop best practices and sustainable models. 

The partnership supports NAJA’s mission of empowering Indigenous journalists through programs and actions designed to enrich journalism and promote Indigenous cultures. This initiative continues to expand training efforts by NAJA for RFA corps members which began in June 2019.

Separately, NAJA and RFA will also make this training available to RFA’s statehouse reporting positions in states with significant Indigenous communities.

New RFA corps members in the 2020-21 class: 

Jaida Grey Eagle – Oglala Lakota
Sahan Journal in Minneapolis, MN
Beat: Photojournalist focusing on Hmong, Somali and Latino communities in Minnesota

Shaun Griswold – Laguna Pueblo 
New Mexico In Depth
Beat: Urban Indigenous affairs in Albuquerque

Richard Two Bulls – Oglala Sioux Tribe
South Dakota Public Broadcasting
Beat: Ethnic communities, including Indigenous people

Frank Vaisvilas – Yaqui
Green Bay Press-Gazette in Green Bay, WI
Beat: Indigenous affairs in Green Bay and Wisconsin

Renewing RFA corps members in the 2020-21 class:

Chris Aadland – Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe descendant 
Montana Free Press
Beat: Indigenous affairs in the state

Savannah Maher – Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe
Wyoming Public Radio 
Beat: Wind River Reservation

Other RFA corps members covering Indigenous affairs:
  • Theresa Davis (renewing – Albuquerque Journal
  • Alex Schwartz (new – Herald and News in Klamath Falls, Oregon) 
  • Eleni Gill (renewing – Honolulu Civil Beat
  • Erin McKinstry (new – KCAW-FM
  • Kate Groetzinger (renewing – KUER
  • Miranda Cyr (new – Las Cruces Sun-News
  • Sarah Volpenhein (new – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  • Julia Sclafani (new – Searchlight New Mexico
  • Maria Sestito (new – Desert Sun
  • Michelle Griffith (new – Forum of Fargo-Moorhead
  • Zachary Podmore (renewing – Salt Lake Tribune
  • Arielle Dreher (renewing – Spokesman-Review
  • Kaitlyn Nicholas (new – Yellowstone Public Radio)

The release and original post stated there were 250 corps members. While this is what RFA aimed for, the final number is 225.

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