When I reported on Capitol Hill as ICT’s first staff reporter-producer, many people often asked me what beat I covered or assumed it was “general assignment.” I half jokingly replied much of the time, “Indian Country.”

Indian Country is its own universe where many of our issues overlap. I also wasn’t fond of being labeled as a general assignment reporter because “general assignment” does not hold the weight of each story we discuss, prioritize, cover and follow-up on.

Most importantly, “general assignment” didn’t touch on the contextual knowledge and experience I or other Indigenous reporters possess covering Indigenous communities. Knowledge and understanding that is gold in our newsroom and that mainstream media is finally tapping into.

Our experiences as Indigenous peoples hold so much value in newsrooms. It contributes to the accurate and in-depth reporting our communities desperately need and deserve. It also puts ICT ahead of the news cycle.

When my predecessor, Katie Oyan joined ICT last year, we talked about creating beats for everyone. We never solidified it because, well, news happens.

Right before she went back to AP, she forwarded me an old email outlining potential beats for everyone. We laughed.

We didn’t end up anywhere near that because Indian Country is so massive to cover for our small team.

That was it. How were we going to cover our communities with our small staff? How were we going to leverage everyone’s expertise and strengths to bring original reporting to our communities? How were we going to bring the in-depth reporting to each story that we wanted to?

It turns out we were already doing it.

We swept the beat reporting category for the 2021 National Native Media Awards, from first place to honorable mention covering a birthing center closure, Indigenous candidates running for the 2020 election, Alaska policy, and COVID-19.

(READ MORE: Indigenous excellence, innovation brings ICT multiple NAJA awards)

What’s even more impressive is that we did that as a national news outlet where our goal is to look at all Indigenous communities and the big picture.

The fact that our colleagues chose our reporters for these awards shows that we leveraged and tapped our knowledge and experiences as Indigenous journalists and an Indigenous-led newsroom. And it shows the talent we have.

As my famous mantra goes, “We need more reporters.”

Help us tap into the talent out there and cover more stories (believe me, there are many we haven’t touched).

You can help make that happen with a little as $10. As always, thank you for reading and sharing our work.

Ahéhee’,

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye
Managing editor, ICT

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