Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

May 14, 2012

When fat cat reporters come to town

When the fat cat reporters come to town,
be ready to accommodate them

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

When outside reporters come to Indian country, they seem to think that local reporters and editors are really anxious to work for them for free, and also to be misquoted. Then they sensationalize something they think the public wants to hear and make promises they never fulfill. Tim Giago, Lakota, writes about this today in his column, "Beer sniffing reporters descend on Pine Ridge."

What outside news reporters do at Pine Ridge is the same thing they do in Arizona. On the border, reporters like to try and trick people into interviews, promising to tell their story, assuring them the news story won't be just another racist story with a focus on drugs and border crossings. Then, guess what, the article comes out, and the promises were all a hoax, it is the same old racist, xenophobic story told again, with US Border Patrol agents and elected criminals starring as John Wayne characters.

The reporters, broadcasters, book authors and filmmakers e-mail in advance to let people know they are coming. It goes something like this: "I am a great news maker and I am coming to town. I don't have much money or time, so I expect everyone to accommodate me, drive to me for interviews, even if it cost you $100 in gas, and show up when I want you to. No, I can't help you with expenses."

Then the reporters, broadcasters, book writers and filmmakers write to local reporters, including the unpaid ones doing it as a labor of love: "I can't contact X, would you do it for me, and line up my interviews. No, I don't have any funds to pay you, even if it takes you days, and a huge phone bill, to arrange my interviews for me."

Poor me, says the reporter, so little time and money to be in your area. But I will be staying at an expensive hotel and eating great food while I'm there in Tucson on my big fat budget. Can you recommend some great restaurants? Maybe a little night life? I'll be happy to swing for a cup of coffee for you.

With most fat cat reporters, nothing is really "off the record," as you will find when their article, book, TV show or film comes out.

Of course, this refers to the ones who actually come to town, and not the armchair "reporters" who just sit home in their easy chairs and plagiarize, or make a phone call or two to disguise their plagiarism. Then there's the "copy and paste" reporters who just steal others hard work and put their name on it.

One time, I responded to a reporter planning to spend three whole days in Arizona to tell an epic story: "You need to live here for years to gain peoples trust and tell their stories, ten years is a good number. And no, they said they don't have gas money to meet you anywhere. And no, they don't know you or trust you."
Brenda Norrell is publisher of Censored News. She lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years and has been a reporter of Indian news for 30 years.

No comments: