August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Parasite Reporters

The Parasite Reporters

In the bargain basement of news, the reporters are out to deceive you and censor the authentic voices of grassroots Native Americans

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

The parasite reporters continue to plagiarize for a paycheck the hard work of others. In Indian country’s national news, it works this way: A reporter searches the Internet looking for prey. They are searching for authentic journalism that can be plagiarized, rewritten, without getting caught.

The parasite reporter combines the work of journalists on the web with quotes from written statements, or a phone call, to deceive readers. The goal is to make you believe the reporter was actually present.

To further deceive you, a photo is added. Like the Huffington Post which profiteers from the earnest work of writers without paying them, newspapers targeting American Indian readers often use the work of photographers without paying them.

These armchair reporters are now writing the majority of Indian country’s national news. These newspapers no longer have reporters in communities, on the scene, covering the news. They reward their reporters for not being there, for rewriting the work of others.

An armchair journalist can easily turn out a story in an hour, based on an article that came about due to the financial and personal sacrifice of a real news reporter.

There is also the “copy and paste” method. When there are many public statements on an issue, like the misuse of Geronimo’s name, then reporters copy and paste quotes from several statements, without bothering to interview anyone.

The reporters are not the only ones to blame for this plummeting of ethics in Indian country journalism. The editors and publishers are also to blame for encouraging reporters to sit in their easy chairs, and steal the hard work of others, both their words and their photos. In the end, it is the editor or publisher who decides to pay the reporter for the continued theft and deception.

In some cases, an editor continues this because it is easy for them, or the reporter is a longtime personal friend, or the reporter at some point was their lover.

There is a second type of parasite reporter. It is the non-Indian reporter who drives out to Indian country each week to get a paycheck. There is one primary focus of his news articles: To encourage political division and promote tribal infighting.

Like all newspapers, Indian country's newspapers are influenced by their advertisers, including the CIA and FBI. Meanwhile, AP reporters covering Indian country give priority to corporations and politicians, easily reached by telephone.

When it comes to uranium mining, tar sands, toxic dumping, coal mines and power plants in Indian country, AP reporters who refuse to give priority to the voices of grassroots Native Americans fighting to protect the environment are complicit in the moral crime of targeting Indians with industries that result in disease and death.

Why should any of this matter to you? Because it is you the reader who is being duped. You are the one being deceived and cheated. You are the one being served up leftovers and stolen goods. The reporters and editors are smiling all the way to the bank. Some of these armchair reporters and parasite reporters in Indian country have been doing this now for 20 to 30 years.

On the web now, there is an abundance of trite, unoriginal, reporting. Issues are intellectualized and buried in rhetoric, with long words and jargon. These are used to camouflage the lack of substance and the fact that the article is a personal essay, not news reporting.

In this bargain basement journalism, the voices of grassroots Native Americans are not only ignored, their voices are censored.

What can you, the reader, do? Challenge the writers and editors. Ask the reporters if they were present at a news story and ask them where their information came from. If a reporter’s name sounds like a hoax, it might be, dig deeper. Investigate the reporters and question the editors. If they call, or e-mail you for a quote, ask them to be present in person to cover an event. Don't fall for their excuses and empty promises. Don’t let them cheat you out of an article with integrity.

Ask them why they refuse to cover the truth of abuse in Indian boarding schools, the bogus wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and toxic dumping in Indian country. Ask the armchair journalists why they further victimize victims to get a paycheck or refuse to question where millions of dollars in revenues are going from a casino.

Ask the editors why they don’t have a reporter out at Big Mountain, on Western Shoshone land or on the border with the O’odham.

Challenge the reporters and hold them responsible as stewards of the public trust.
Editor responds with profanity

In the news this week: Indian boarding schools: The media as holocaust deniers:

When a reader of Indian Country Today questioned why an article appeared which portrayed Indian boarding schools as positive, the opinion editor at ICT cursed out the reader. Because of the vulgarity used by the ICT editor, his e-mail is not being posted here, but a copy can be e-mailed upon request. Read more about the reactions to this response on facebook:  brenda.norrell  The editor's vulgar e-mail followed sincere comments to ICT in regards to the abuse and genocide of Indian boarding schools, the denial of this holocaust and the way lopsided articles prostitute history.

Anyone who has walked through the cemetery at Carlisle Indian School, or the marsh of ummarked graves at Haskell, knows what these children suffered. The rapes, tortures, beatings and murders are well documented now by survivors of Indian boarding schools in the US, Canada and Australia. All people, when informed, have the responsibility to speak out against injustice and criminal acts, and especially the abuse of children.

As for the opinion editor at ICT, not only is his comment ethically reprehensible, it is no doubt a violation of the Oneida Nation's employee regulations at Oneida Nation Human Resources which prohibit employees from attacking the public with lewd language and profanity.

Brenda Norrell created Censored News after being censored, then terminated, by Indian Country Today. Norrell has covered Indian country for 29 years, including the 18 years she lived on the Navajo Nation. She is a former writer for Navajo Times and served as a correspondent for AP and USA Today. Now censored by the mainstream media, her articles appear at CounterPunch, Narco News and Sri Lanka Guardian.

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