The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

July 14, 2013

National Native American magazine going digital

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A weekly magazine that is a leading source of Native American news is abandoning print in favor of an online-only presence, in a cost-cutting move that worries some readers who fear they may lose access because of the switch.

This Week From Indian Country Today, a New York City-based publication owned by the Oneida Nation, will become an online newsletter starting with its July 17 issue.

“In the age we live in, technology is really advanced to a point that we’re trying to make sure we’re serving what our audience really needs,” said Indian Country Today publisher Ray Halbritter. Converting to an online newsletter that is emailed to subscribers will eliminate some of the lag time between when news happens and when it appears in writing, he said.

The magazine, which was started in 1981, provides a mixture of straight news stories and commentary by tribal members, and it is often a way for politicians to get their messages out to Native American communities. President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner have all done interviews or written opinion pieces.

For Native Americans on isolated reservations, access to broadband Internet is anything but guaranteed and print media is a staple of life. According to the Federal Communications Commission, just 43 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives have access to broadband Internet at home, compared to 65 percent of the U.S. population as a whole. Access on reservation and tribal lands is even scarcer, at less than 10 percent, although there are government efforts to expand such access.

Suzanne Sobel, the managing director of Indian Country Today Media Network, said she’s not worried about the statistics.

“The reservations that don’t have broadband Internet, quite frankly they were also having a hard time getting the magazine too,” she said. Sobel said most tribal members on such reservations use their smartphones to get information. She noted that the website had 550,000 unique visitors in June and continues to grow.

Sobel, a former executive with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and creative director Christopher Napolitano, former editor at large for Playboy magazine, are leading Indian Country Today’s transition to digital-only. The evolution has been in the works for some time, Sobel said. Halbritter said the change will allow the company to expand its international coverage of indigenous issues and work with more contributors.

Sobel and Halbritter declined to say how much money will be saved with the elimination of the print magazine, which had a circulation of about 15,000. A year’s subscription to the online newsletter will cost the same as the printed magazine did — a little less than $20.

Sheena Louise Roetman, a 28-year-old Atlanta resident who is Creek and Lakota, describes Indian Country Today as a trustworthy source that she considers to be the “Native version of the New York Times.” She said she worries that by eliminating print copies of Indian Country Today, some tribal members — especially older ones — will have less access to the information.

Others think the digital-only strategy makes sense for tribal nations working to improve access to the Internet.

The Seneca Nation in New York, for example, has two reservations with basic dial-up Internet, but the tribal government is working to upgrade to broadband, said Samantha Nephew, a 23-year-old marketing specialist for a Seneca Nation-owned corporation. She said she’s a regular reader of the magazine.

“I think when that happens, the Seneca Nation members will have more incentive to check out (Indian Country Today) digitally,” she said.

Rhonda LeValdo, the president of the Native American Journalist Association, said Indian Country Today’s switch to digital-only could be seen as a positive step for Native communities because it may free up resources for more reporting and accelerate the push for greater access to broadband. And, she added, traditional tribal newspapers may see people who prefer print turning to them for their news.

Tim Giago, the magazine’s founder and former owner, is counting on it. Giago, a Native American journalist who lives in South Dakota, founded the Lakota Times in 1981 and later changed its name to Indian Country Today. He sold it to the Oneida Nation before starting another Native American newspaper, the Native Sun News, which doesn’t publish stories on its website.

Giago said that for people to understand how Native Americans consume news, they only need to look at the Navajo Times, the newspaper that covers the Navajo Nation.

“It (The Navajo Times) is now the largest Indian newspaper in America and it also continues to grow because most of its readers prefer to hold a real newspaper in their hands and many on the Navajo Nation do not have access to the Internet,” he said.

1
Text Only
National and world
  • CDC Ebola web.jpg U.S. warns against traveling to Ebola-hit countries

    “The bottom line is Ebola is worsening in West Africa,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who announced the travel warning.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mideast web.jpg Gaza truce comes after days of pushing for a deal

    Finally, less than an hour after all sides signed off on the precise and technical wording for a 72-hour truce, Kerry issued a statement and called a 3:30 a.m. Friday press conference to seal the deal before any party could back out.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Taiwan web.jpg Gas explosions kill 24, injure 271 in Taiwan

    The fires were believed caused by a leak of propene, a petrochemical material not intended for public use, but the source of the gas was not immediately clear, officials said.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Congress web.jpg Congress races to finish VA, highway bills

    House Speaker John Boehner accused Democrats of pursuing a “nutso scheme” of trying to seize on the border crisis to try and grant a path to citizenship to millions of immigrants living in the country illegally.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Illinois Unemployment_Hass.jpg As U.S. job market strengthens, many don't feel it

    "If the economy is getting better, I'm not sure for whom. It certainly hasn't trickled down to me." — Douglas Hunter, who earned $14 an hour before the Great Recession and now works three days a week for $9.25 an hour, mopping floors and fixing fryers at McDonald's.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • House Obama Lawsuit.jpg Republican-led House approves lawsuit against President Obama

    Just a day before lawmakers were to begin a five-week summer recess, debate over the proposed lawsuit underscored the harshly partisan tone that has dominated the current Congress almost from its start in January 2013.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Russia Putin web.jpg Sanctions could damage Russia

    The sanctions go further than earlier penalties — which had largely targeted individuals — by broadly limiting the trade of weapons and of technology that can be used in the oil and military industries. The EU also put its capital markets off-limits to Russian state-owned banks.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mideast Libya web.jpg Thousands flee to Tunisia to escape Libya fighting

    Many diplomats, including the U.S. ambassador, have pulled out of the country. With the interim government paralyzed, the fighting threatens the planned opening session of the newly elected parliament on Aug. 4.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Obit Robert Drew web.jpg Cinema verite documentarian Robert Drew dies

    Starting in 1960 with “Primary,” Drew produced and sometimes directed a series of television documentaries that took advantage of such innovations as light hand-held cameras that recorded sound and pictures.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Obama Ukraine Russia_Hass_W.jpg GOP-led House approves lawsuit against Obama

    The suit will contend that Obama has exceeded his constitutional powers in the way he has enforced the 2010 health care law.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads