By The Associated Press
This Week From Indian Country Today, a New York City-based publication owned by the Oneida Nation, will become an online newsletter starting with its July 17 issue.
“In the age we live in, technology is really advanced to a point that we’re trying to make sure we’re serving what our audience really needs,” said Indian Country Today publisher Ray Halbritter. Converting to an online newsletter that is emailed to subscribers will eliminate some of the lag time between when news happens and when it appears in writing, he said.
The magazine, which was started in 1981, provides a mixture of straight news stories and commentary by tribal members, and it is often a way for politicians to get their messages out to Native American communities. President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner have all done interviews or written opinion pieces.
Others think the digital-only strategy makes sense for tribal nations working to improve access to the Internet.
The Seneca Nation in New York, for example, has two reservations with basic dial-up Internet, but the tribal government is working to upgrade to broadband, said Samantha Nephew, a 23-year-old marketing specialist for a Seneca Nation-owned corporation. She said she’s a regular reader of the magazine.
“I think when that happens, the Seneca Nation members will have more incentive to check out (Indian Country Today) digitally,” she said.
Rhonda LeValdo, the president of the Native American Journalist Association, said Indian Country Today’s switch to digital-only could be seen as a positive step for Native communities because it may free up resources for more reporting and accelerate the push for greater access to broadband. And, she added, traditional tribal newspapers may see people who prefer print turning to them for their news.
For some reason, this article failed to mention the main reason most publications are going online: to reduce costs so the owners make more money. That point should be addressed in any article about a publication's canceling its print component.
LeValdo talks about freeing up resources, but it remains to be seen whether this will happen. With less advertising and subscriber revenue, I'd guess that ICTMN will do (even) less original reporting, not more.
For more on Native journalism, see Lone Ranger vs. Real News and Native Media Limited at Lone Ranger Premiere.
Below: "Indian Country Today publisher Ray Halbritter poses with the last print edition of the magazine and its new online newsletter at his office July 11 in Verona, N.Y." (AP Photo)