Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

March 30, 2015

Economic Blackmail: The New McCarthyism in Indian Country News

John Kane, Mohawk
Does truth-telling in the media now mean that you have to work for free in America?

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
Dutch translation by Alice Holemans, NAIS Gazette

It is sad that John Kane, Mohawk, can not find any sponsors to keep his radio show, 'Let's Talk Native,' going.

Is this what happens now to the truth-tellers in the media? Does telling the truth in the media now mean that you have to work for free in America?

During the Boarding School Tribunal in Green Bay, Wisconsin, it was John Kane who called in to provide radio coverage. The only media there was Govinda of Earthcycles and Censored News. None of us are paid for our work. In fact, as John's message below shows, we can't even attract enough donations to cover our expenses to keep going.

The point is that the media has collapsed and a form of economic blackmail is present. It is just as serious as the blacklisting of McCarthyism. It is just carried out in a different manner.

At the same time, this black hole of journalism has created a door for heroes to walk through. It offers us the chance to be present and cover the stories that no one else will, a chance to broadcast the ideas that could transform this planet.

Surely future generations will look back for kernels of truth, and will celebrate those that survive.

With the high costs of travel, equipment, radio airtime and more, the truth-tellers, even when they offer their labors of love for free, are finding there is no way to keep going.

The problem with grants and advertising is that neither are free. Each comes with a price.

As Hopi elder Dan Evehema told me years ago, "Don't ever take grants, or they will own you."

As for big money advertisers, look at the effects that casino, mining and CIA ads have had on Indian country news. The majority of what you have today is either plagiarism by stay-at-home reporters, or fluff by writers surfing and re-writing the web. 

Those stay-at-home reporters have also found cash bounty in the good-hearted activists who pay their own way to share the news. Those stay-at-home plagiarizers get a paycheck from what they seize from the web.

What you have today in the news is the void remaining from the issues that are censored.

John Kane posted this message on Sunday:

Tonight is to be my final "Let's Talk Native…" program. WWKB would like me to stay on but the cost of paid programming has always been a challenge and the lack sustainable funding has made the show in its existing form and location unsustainable as well. I will make a plea tonight to continue to support my costs associated with travel to NYC for my show there and I will make what will likely be my final pitch to cover the costs for the billing cycle I am completing with my show here in Buffalo. I have been asked if I would be willing to continue through the month of April and I will say that if there is support for me to continue through next month, with firm commitments to cover the airtime on a weekly basis I would consider doing so.
But join us tonight with your calls and thoughts as we look back on this show and look for future opportunities to keep the conversations going.
Let's Talk!
Contact John at

Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 33 years, beginning at Navajo Times during the 18 years that she lived on the Navajo Nation. She served as a freelance reporter for AP and USA Today covering the Navajo Nation and federal courts. After being censored and terminated as a staff writer for Indian Country Today, she created Censored News, now in its 9th year with 3.8 million pageviews.

No comments: