NAJA releases 2021 Media Spotlight Report

Art by: Marty Two Bulls (Oglala Lakota)

The New York Times wins NAJA Bingo on more than half of articles analyzed 

In the Native American Journalists Association’s 2021 Media Spotlight Report, more than half of the New York Times’ Indigenous affairs coverage used stereotypes found on the NAJA Bingo Card.

An Ohio University research team, led by Sarah Liese, under the direction of Dr. Victoria LaPoe, analyzed Indigenous coverage by the New York Times, identifying emerging themes and terminology in 300 articles published from 2015-2021. Using the NAJA BINGO Card as a guide, researchers identified how many times clichéd themes and stereotypes appeared in hard news, opinion and stories about Indigenous peoples by the NYT. 

The BINGO card has 14 key terms commonly found in news stories that display a limited knowledge of Indigenous communities. The most frequently used terms and ideas that appeared in the 2021 Media Spotlight Report on the New York Times were “violence,” “vanishing culture,” “ancestors,” “poverty,” and “reservation.” 

Out of 300 articles, 804 total stereotypes were used. “Violence” was the most frequently used bingo card word, found in 40 percent of coverage analyzed.

The more articles published in a year, the more the New York Times bingoed and 2020 had the highest number of cliched articles. That year also saw the highest number of Indigenous journalists published by the NYT, however, the majority of those articles were opinion pieces. 

NAJA’s mission is to encourage accurate and contextual coverage of Indigenous people. The American media landscape should reflect the diversity of the country. Ethical coverage is difficult at best when there is no one in the newsroom who can speak to the Indigenous experience. 

NAJA continues to offer resources like the BINGO Card, first released in 2017 in partnership with High Country News, and newsroom training to any media organization looking to improve coverage of Indigenous people and communities.

About NAJA
The Native American Journalists Association serves more than 900 members, including media professionals working in tribal, freelance, independent and mainstream news outlets, as well as academia and students covering Indigenous communities and representing tribal nations from across North America.