December 06, 2010

Racial blindness in South Dakota's media

Tim Giago:  Indian journalists are invisible in South Dakota's mediaWithout a law to dictate fairness, Native hosted and produced television and radio shows went the way of the Dodo bird. Today there is no such program in South Dakota although Native Americans comprise the largest minority in the state.

This racial blindness even extends to the television media’s self-promotional advertisements. One station advertises itself as KELO-Land, while another calls itself KOTA-Territory. In their self-promotional ads that are aired to show “its people” going about their daily lives, Native Americans find it baffling that there are no Native Americans living and enjoying the fruits of KELO-LAND or KOTA-Territory. Everybody in the self-promotional ads is white! Oh, they get a little diverse at times and include the occasional African American.

It is disconcerting but plausible that corporate media has no responsibility to its public to show even a semblance of diversity, but the publicly owned television and radio stations do have a responsibility. After all, these stations are funded by federal funds and if not by federal funds by private donations, many of those donations contributed by Native Americans.

During the past gubernatorial and House of Representatives election it would have been wonderful if Native American journalists had been included in the mix when radio discussion on public radio discussed the pros and cons of the competing candidates. Once again, Natives were the invisible outsider.
Comment:  For more on Native journalism, see Why Keith Olbermann Matters and How Journalists Frame the Question. For more on racial attitudes in South Dakota, see Stereotypes Drive Racism in South Dakota.

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