By Valerie Vande Panne
Today, we’re hosting a panel discussion at the Society of Environmental Journalists’ 2022 conference: Covering Indian Country for Non-Natives.
They are three powerful people from tribes across Indian country whose words struck with the full force of truth for an hour and 15 minutes. Attending the panel was, perhaps, the quietest group of reporters I have ever seen. They listened. They took notes. They thought about what they heard.
Francine spoke of the “bingo cardencouraging journalists to use it and if they got “bingo”, or even close to “bingo”, there is probably something wrong with the report, among others, including the NAJA Spotlight report , analyzing the New York Times‘Generally poor coverage of Native Americans.
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Sierra talked about what it’s like to work in a newsroom as the only Indigenous person.
And Sandy talked about what reporters do wrong when interviewing him – and that was a lot.
Because journalism is inherently extractive.
I could get poetic about the profound insights these powerful women shared – but instead, I encourage you to watch or listen to the panel for yourself, here.
Since our panel was taking place in the same room as the lunch plenary, we finished at 12:15 p.m., as hungry journalists walked in for lunch.
And it was during the full lunch that I started to feel cynical and naughty, as I hear techs bragging about drums and carbon capture and I smell the stench of capitalists vying for ink and media attention.
At a conference of journalists.
As one of the participants told me afterwards: “This panel made me realize that environmental journalists are not necessarily environmentalists.”
I politely excused myself from the lunch, which felt like a sales pitch with five Meta men on a TEDx stage.
When I entered the corridor, other women were there and others followed me. As one woman said, “I can’t believe the main plenary is a manel”.
Manuel [man-l] name. An exclusively masculine round table.
After some time chatting with other women in the hallways, it’s time for the next panel, on landfills, and then a special US EPA press conference, which wasn’t so much groundbreaking as it was disappointing – more of cheerleading than answers or responsibility. Some of the regional representatives, who were supposed to be available to answer questions directly from the press, never showed up.
As the afternoon progressed into the evening, I felt relieved that our panel was so well received. I keep hearing kind words about it, which is nice.
We really don’t use enough words to say what’s right in journalism, let alone society. Feedback is and was appreciated.
Read the notebooks of previous SEJ reporters:
Journalists’ Notebook: Society of Environmental Journalists Conference 2022, Day Two
Society of Environmental Journalists Conference 2022 Reporters’ Notebook, Day One
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Journalist’s notebook from: Society of Environmental Journalists Conference 2022, day two
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