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Native Newspaper Publisher Launches New Publication

Reznet, Commentary , Tim Giago Posted: Mar 12, 2009

Some would say I am crazy, but I think what is needed in Indian country is a good Indian newspaper. Let me explain.

The condition of the newspaper business seems to go from bad to worse. Perhaps it didn't ruffle a feather in New York City when the Rocky Mountain News bit the dust, but out here in the west it shook up an entire region.

With the Seattle Post Intelligencer sinking in the wake of the Albuquerque Tribune, it would appear that newspapers will soon go the way of the dodo bird. Let me say this about the death of the newspaper business using the words of Mark Twain: "The report of my death was an exaggeration."

Perhaps the near death of many newspapers will cause the publishers and editors to take a hard look at this business of news reporting. We can't blame it all on the Internet although by putting their newspapers online, newspaper publishers helped to give it a shove toward the open grave. But when newspapers suddenly became attachments to a chain with the bottom line becoming more important than good news reporting, the readers responded by dropping their subscriptions. Conglomerates with offices in faraway places forgot that local people wanted to read local news. In order to write local news the paper had to have reporters that knew the territory and the people.

Yes, national news is important because so many things that happen in Washington, DC eventually comes back to bite the local people in the butt. But please consider that the newspapers that maintained a balanced sense of community are still doing well. A classic example is the Mitchell (SD) Daily Republic. It is a small daily serving a small community that continues to grow. They are succeeding because they never lost that sense of "community."

I have been in the newspaper business for more than 30 years, first with the national Indian newspaper Wassaja, as a reporter with the Rapid City (SD) Journal, and as a regional editor with the Farmington (NM) Daily Times. I started my own newspaper, The Lakota Times, in 1981. The Times morphed into Indian Country Today in 1991. I then started The Lakota Journal in 2000. I thought I had retired in 2004.

But there are always pieces of news floating around out there about Native Americans that are downright degrading, erroneous and misleading. Whenever I saw this kind of news reporting I shuddered, especially when I saw it in so-called "Indian newspapers."

When the newspaper I sold to the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe folded its tent in January of this year I realized that there was not a statewide Indian newspaper to keep the residents of the nine Indian reservations in South Dakota informed and educated to events that would shape their daily lives. My phone began ringing from longtime Lakota friends asking and yes, urging me, to get back into the business. Let me say that retirement isn't all it is cracked up to be. If one has a job that is not a job, but a joy, leaving it is difficult. Admittedly I was tired, and ill, but 5 years of rest and relaxation have brought me back to good health and a positive outlook on life.

Last week I opened an office in Rapid City that will be the home of the brand new Native Sun News. Many of my old reporters will be writing articles for me and the investigative articles that were a weekly menu of the Lakota Times and Indian Country Today (when I owned it) will once again become a weekly staple. For too many years some tribal governments have run roughshod over their members without recourse. Indian country needs a watchdog, one that does not fear turning over a rock to see what is under it.

You won't find us on the Internet. So many of my Indian readers do not have computers or do not even have access to them. Native Sun News will go back to the traditional way of providing news for Indian country. The paper will have serious news, but we will never abandon that Indian sense of humor that so many non-Indians accuse us of not having. You will be able to hold our newspaper in your hands, sip on a hot cup of coffee, and read the news you used to love to read in The Lakota Times and Indian Country Today.

I decided to keep my annual subscription rate low because of the hard times so, except on the newsstand where the paper will sell for $1.00, a subscription will cost less than $1.00 per issue. But even for $1.00, it is the best dollar you'll ever spend.

To subscribe call Michele at: 605-721-1266 or email her at: sales@nsweekly.com. You can write to me at: editor@nsweekly.com or to the newspaper at: Native Sun News, 1000 Cambell St., Suite 1A, Rapid City, SD 57701.

I am excited and looking forward to serving the Indian nations of America with a newspaper they will truly enjoy reading. Hece tu yelo!

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