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GLOBAL JOURNALIST: Perspectives of indigenous journalists

Friday, February 25, 2011 | 1:32 p.m. CST

Whether in Australia, Ghana, Panama or Arizona, reporters face a challenge to accurately represent indigenous people who have cultivated a rich culture for centuries. The outside journalist's perspective can warrant its own set of considerations, that when ignored, can leave a people misrepresented and unfairly stereotyped.

Conversely, native journalists from indigenous cultures intimately know the people they serve and have a responsibility to uncover the stories that are the lifeblood of their local audiences — stories that could otherwise go untold. Indigenous journalists are also privy to the diversity that pulses through their community and are able to transcend the frames that some outside reporters might apply.

As governments pursue interests that adversely affect indigenous people, a rift can form between indigenous citizens' obligation to their country and the duty to their people. In the past, there were few outlets for natives to publish such concerns. Today, the Internet gives a sterling voice to the indigenous community and enables stories to be told through their eyes — to the world.

This week, we explore these issues and more on Global Journalist.

Listen to this week's show.

Highlights from this week's guests:

Lesmore, New South Wales, Australia: Kirstie Parker, Editor, Koori Mail

"That is one of the main problems indigenous people face: the way the mainstream media reports our issues is with a tendency to stereotype and to assume that all Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island people are the same. Even many Australians would be surprised to know that there are hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island languages … and with that comes many different cultures and many different approaches for things. The major difference for us is the way we approach stories and that there is going to be difference in our communities."

Panama City, Panama: Eric Jackson, Editor, Panama City News

"[The Kuna] have their own media. It's online, and it's very good…You have journalism by anybody's standards, and it's high-quality…They don't want to be manipulated by people at other media with different values, so they express it in their own way."

Accra, Ghana: Kent Mensah, Journalist, Africa News

"We want to give a serious look at the issues that are not only happening in Africa, but are of international interest … These are issues that people want to read, but mainstream media are not using that outlet to publish such stories. This is why we provide a free platform to our reporters in other parts of Africa who aren't getting to report stories on an international level."

Window Rock, Arizona: Marley Shebala, Journalist, Navajo Times

"I was taught the first rule of journalism is you cover the community. You cover your community and whatever obstacles are there, you cover them … They try to throw us in the melting pot, and we don't melt. We're not going to."

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