Indian Country Today
A new year brings new change and that certainly is the case at Indian Country Today.
A pair of promotions from within the organization have filled out editing positions following Jourdan Bennett-Begaye’s move from managing editor to editor.
These moves also follow a rebranding of the newscast that is now the “ICT Newscast with Aliyah Chavez.”
Dalton Walker, Red Lake Anishinaabe, slides into Bennett-Begaye’s former role of managing editor and Dianna Hunt, Cherokee Nation descent, comes onboard as a full-time senior editor.
President and chief executive officer of IndiJ Public Media, Karen Lincoln Michel, Ho-Chunk, said the pair bring a wealth of experience to the roles and the digital news side of the organization is lucky to have the combination of the two. IndiJ Public Media is the parent company of ICT.
“These two positions are crucial in the daily rhythm of the digital newsroom, and I am confident that Dalton and Dianna will deliver the strong editing power we need to keep our readers informed on Indigenous issues,” Michel said.
Bennett-Begaye echoed those sentiments.
“Dalton's role is paramount to our growth,” she said. “He has such a keen eye for unique stories that made his reporting stand out. That with his multimedia skills and leadership makes our team stronger and creates solid journalism.”
Adding about Hunt, “Freelance is one of the priorities we hope to expand and no one could be more suited for the role than Dianna as a senior editor. Plus, her editing and guidance on the Enbridge pipeline and the climate migration series allows ICT to showcase its talent and diversity in reporting.”
Walker was hired as a national correspondent in 2020 then promoted to deputy managing editor and said it is an honor to be named managing editor. He’s been in the journalism field for about 20 years and has formed his own leadership style from things he’s learned along the way to where he finds himself now.
Walker said he is thankful for the support he’s received at ICT.
“It's a wonderful feeling knowing that our leadership team believes in me,” he said. “In what feels like a short time at ICT, it's nice to see how much we've grown and how much confidence we have in one another. It's like a family. We all want each other to succeed.”
Despite his new role, readers can still expect to see his byline from time to time.
“I became a journalist to tell our stories, and I have for many years,” Walker said. “My role has changed some, but my passion for journalism hasn't. A benefit working for ICT is that we can find pockets of time to write, to report, to tell stories.”
His decades of work can be found in the Argus Leader, The Gazette, the Omaha World-Herald, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.
Hunt has been with ICT since early 2021 and will now be full-time. In the past she has worked at newspapers in Louisiana and Texas, including time as the metro editor at the Houston Chronicle where she covered Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath.
The coverage of Hurricane Harvey that Hunt directed and edited was a Pulitzer-prize finalist for breaking news coverage.
Overseeing special projects is the reporting and editing she likes to do best she says.
“I want to give a full examination to the issues and the problems that may have caused them, and look for changes that could be made to address those issues,” she said.
Lately, the project Hunt has been working on is climate change and its impact on Indian Country.
However, she is looking forward to other projects in the future as well, including one this spring on economic issues facing rural Native communities in collaboration with the Institute for Nonprofit News and several other news outlets.
“The collaboration, funded by grants from the Walton Family Foundation, is part of INN's Rural News Network,” Hunt said. “We're expecting to publish those stories in March, so stay-tuned.”
Both Walker and Hunt appreciate working at a news organization that is unique in the way it covers stories.
“ICT is giving voice to people whose voices may not have been heard in years past, and it's doing it in a way that is getting noticed,” Hunt said. “I want to tell stories that matter, and Indian Country Today is doing that.”
“Few attempt to do what we do. We cover Native people for a national publication. I worked in places where we were asked to localize a national story,” Walker said. “At ICT, we want to Indigenize all stories.”
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