A couple of weeks ago we decided to do a roundtable on Zoom. The first roundtable was March 24th 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. That was followed by a grant from Vision Maker Media and the Corporation of Public Broadcasting to do more reporting on COVID-19. One thing led to another. And last Monday we launched a daily newscast, hosted by Talahongva.

The newscast format is very much a product of the times. It’s produced at home, engineered at another home, and then posted on our platform by 4 pm. The idea was to tell people quickly what’s going on that day followed by an interview with a reporter working on a story and then an interview with a newsmaker. We think the video format also works for people who are at home sitting by a television set (Friday’s newscast and reporters’ roundtable).

Because we are a digital newsroom we measure everything. And so we know the reaction from our viewers to the newscast was extraordinary. (Our first newscast hit our top 10 stories; from our weekly pool of 132,000 unique users on our platform. The newscast also did very well on Facebook.)

On Friday we worked it out with FNX/First Nations Experience, to air this newscast every night at 7 pm PDT.

FNX reports that it's 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 affiliates, and other non-profit media are welcome to air the newscast as well as a public service.

We are also producing a version 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. 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 us). 

If you get FNX / First Nations Experience where you live ... take a peek. 

In case you missed one of the newscasts.

Monday: Dean Seneca, chief executive officer of Seneca Scientific Solutions Plus. Seneca has had on-the-ground experience working on infectious disease and pandemics. In 2014 he went to the West Africa country of Sierra Leone and helped lead the fight against the Ebola pandemic.

Tuesday: Valerie Davidson, incoming president of Alaska Pacific University and former Lt. Gov. of Alaska. She has more than 20 years of experience in health care and education. She is a long time Alaska Native leader and she is Yup'ik from southwest Alaska.

Wednesday: Dr. Evan Adams, chief medical officer for the British Columbia First Nations Health Authority. He is also an actor with his most memorable character being Thomas Builds-The-Fire in the movie Smoke Signals.

Thursday: Shelly Diaz, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, and the HUB Coordinator for the Minnesota Tribal Coalition for 2020 Census. 

Friday: Washington Editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye with an update about how COVID-19 impacts tribal communities Newscast roundtable includes Indian Country Today reporter Aliyah Chavez, Savannah Maher, tribal affairs reporter for Wyoming Public Radio and Cindy Yurth, assistant editor for the Navajo Times.