PHOENIX – What started in March as a live-streamed discussion about the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on Indian Country has quickly transformed into a weekday newscast delivered to nearly 75 million households.
In the newscast’s fifth week of production, Indian Country Today is announcing that the half-hour broadcast will be picked up by Arizona PBS. The show, called “Indian Country Today,” will air weekday nights at 11 p.m. on the Arizona PBS World channel, starting May 11. The news show is aimed at an Indigenous audience and produced by Indigenous journalists.
“We are honored to partner with Indian Country Today to bring Indigenous voices and stories to a wider audience,” said Mary Mazur, general manager of Arizona PBS. “We value the perspective Indian Country Today brings to its reporting and the impact it can have on our diverse audience.”
Arizona PBS programming reaches about 80 percent of Arizona households on four digital television channels: Arizona PBS (8.1/Cox 1008), Life (8.2/Cox 80), World (8.3/Cox 88) and Arizona PBS KIDS (8.4/Cox 81). Each week, about 600,000 people view Arizona PBS, with more than 140,000 people viewing Arizona PBS Life and about 100,000 people viewing Arizona PBS World. All together, about 970,000 people watch Arizona PBS and its channels. Further, Arizona PBS ranks among the 10 most-watched PBS stations.
“This is a moment in our history where up to the minute news is so important and we know that Arizona PBS is a fantastic way to reach our audience with the latest information,” said Mark Trahant, editor of Indian Country Today. “I am so grateful for this partnership with Arizona PBS and Arizona State University.”
The “Indian Country Today” newscast is posted on indiancountrytoday.com at 4 p.m. EDT, Monday through Friday. It provides a rundown of the latest developments on the pandemic followed by an interview with a reporter working on a story and an interview with a newsmaker.
“The newscast format is very much a product of the times,” Trahant said. “It’s produced at home, engineered at another home, and then posted on our platform. We think the video format also works for people who are at home sitting by a television set.”
The roundtable discussion that inspired the newscast took place on March 24 and included Indian Country Today's Executive Producer Patty Talahongva and Washington Editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, joined by reporter Pauly Denetclaw of The Navajo Times.
Then another Zoom happened. That was followed by a grant from Vision Maker Media and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and an additional grant from the Wend Foundation, to do more reporting on COVID-19. And on April 6, Indian Country Today the news organization launched “Indian Country Today” the daily newscast, hosted by Talahongva.
The newscast was picked up on April 13 by FNX/First Nations Experience, the only national broadcast television network devoted to Native American content, which airs “Indian Country Today” every weeknight at 7 pm PDT.
FNX reports that its network is carried by 22 affiliate stations broadcasting into 14 states from Alaska to New York with a potential viewing audience of more than 46 million people across the United States. (Map of stations.) FNX is also available in the greater Los Angeles media market over-the-air on KVCR in San Bernardino.
Tribal stations, PBS member stations, and other nonprofit media are welcome to air the newscast for free, and as a public service.
A version is available for radio stations, including a five-minute newscast at the top of every program.
“As many readers know we have been working toward a national weekly newscast and had planned on a fall launch,” Trahant said. “But it seems to us that the information is needed now — and we think this is a moment to bring Indian Country together with factual reporting. Thanks for reading, or watching, Indian Country Today.”