Collapse of journalism magnified in Tuba City

Collapse of journalism magnified in Tuba City

Article by Brenda Norrell

Photo by Outta Your Backpack Media: Navajo police guard politicians in Tuba City, Ariz.

Update: The Navajo government, over the objection of Navajo protesters, hired an aggressive pro-mining lobbyist firm to push through Congress the theft of Navajo and Hopi water rights to the Little Colorado River: http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2012/04/navajo-government-hires-firm-to-push.html  

The collapse of journalism in the Native American and mainstream media was never more glaring than when Arizona Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl came to Tuba City on the Navajo Nation on Thurs., April 5, to steal Navajo and Hopi water rights to the Little Colorado River for non-Indians.

While the staff reporters were no shows, the armchair journalism was obvious: A couple of phone calls, a few stolen quotes and a borrowed or stolen photo are all standard for the parasite journalists who make their living from plagiarism and rewrites.

The only bright spot was the excellent coverage by the independent Navajo and Hopi youth reporters at Outta Your Backpack Media in Flagstaff, who were live on the scene with breaking news and photos. Paper Rocket Productions also provided an excellent video. KNAU public radio in Flagstaff also got it right.

However, in the days that followed this important event, it was obvious that the Native American media, local press and the mainstream media have no interest in serious journalism, and could care less about Navajo and Hopi water rights for future generations.

As for the lack of staff writers covering this event, as usual Indian Country Today was a no show. It has been years since an ICT staff reporter was actually seen out covering a news story in Arizona. Where were the Navajo Times staff reporters and photographers? The stringer’s article posted at Navajo Times on Tuesday is too short to be considered serious journalism on this important issue. The Navajo Hopi Observer is close by, yet on Tuesday, five days later, there was no coverage.

As for the Arizona print media, all receive thumbs down for their failed, dismal and pathetic coverage. The Arizona Daily Sun, nearby in Flagstaff, as expected, continues its biased, anti-Indian coverage of Navajo and Hopi issues. The biased, pro-corporate articles in Arizona Daily Sun, and its failure to cover the protests against the Arizona Snowbowl, which made national headlines, resulted in the newspaper being selected as the most racist newspaper in 2011 by Censored News.

As for the Arizona Republic or the Arizona Daily Star, no one expected serious coverage. Arizona’s two largest newspapers deserve recognition for bolstering white supremacy in the Arizona government, the crimes of the border militia and the banning of books in Tucson public schools, by way of the two newspapers failed coverage.

The New York Times blog post on the water rights protest in Tuba City doesn’t deserve a mention. Yawn.

The bottom line is this: Arizona Senator John McCain and and his buddies in Arizona, Congress and at Peabody Coal, found it fairly easy to dupe the public into believing in the so-called “Navajo Hopi land dispute.”

The real purpose was to clear more than 14,000 Navajos from their homeland to make way for Peabody Coal’s two coal mines on Black Mesa. The coal goes to power the Navajo Generating Station, near Page, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation.

While the electricity goes to non-Indians, most Navajos on Black Mesa live without electricity and haul their water. They also live with the air pollution, respiratory diseases, cancer and the draining of their underground aquifer.

Operated by the Salt River Project, the Navajo Generating Station is one of the nation’s dirtiest coal fired power plants and a major cause of greenhouse gases.

McCain, Kyl and their buddies thought the theft of water rights would be another slam dunk of Navajos and Hopis, especially since the Arizona senators are aided by corrupt Navajo and Arizona politicians, along with Navajos who were once on McCain’s paid staff, and an attorney hired by the Navajo Nation who is working against the Navajo peoples best interests.

McCain and his buddies want to steal Navajo and Hopi water rights to the Little Colorado River to keep the dirty power plants operating and to enable their friends to keep living their lavish lifestyles downriver in Phoenix and Tucson, with their golf courses in the desert and their pro-military corporations like Raytheon Missiles.

For all those staff reporters, photographers and broadcasters who were taking a long Easter vacation and ignoring this vital news story, below is the coverage from the unpaid Native American youths, and from public radio. It is the coverage you failed to obtain.

Arizona media, consider giving back your awards for your excellent coverage this year. The news coverage of the Tohono O’odham Nation, at the southern end of the state, has also been fraudulent. Reporters have failed to even go out and speak to Tohono O’odham traditional people, expose the rampant corruption by elected tribal officials, or the militarization and abuse by the US Border Patrol and Homeland Security.

It was a sad day for journalism when the Arizona senators came to Tuba City to steal Navajo and Hopi water rights. Call the media and ask them why they were not present, and if they were present, ask them why they failed in their ethical responsibility as journalists.

Indigenous Action Media/Outta Your Backpack Media:
From the frontlines of the water wars: Diné and Hopi water rights at risk, protesters gather on Navajo Nation
http://www.indigenousaction.org
or
http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2012/04/navajos-and-hopis-protest-kyl-and.html

Video and article by Paper Rocket Productions:
http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2012/04/video-upset-navajos-protest-mccain-kyl.html

KNAU: Senators Kyl and McCain meet angry protesters in Tuba City:
http://www.knau.org/post/senators-kyl-and-mccain-meet-angry-protesters-tuba-city

Also see: US House fast tracks theft of Navajo and Hopi water rights to the Little Colorado in HR 4067:

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr4067 

For permission to republish this article: brendanorrell@gmail.com

Feel free to share the link.

Copyright Brenda Norrell

About Brenda Norrell

Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 32 years. She is publisher of Censored News, focusing on Indigenous Peoples, human rights and the US border. Censored News was created after Norrell was censored, then terminated, by Indian Country Today after serving as a longtime staff reporter. Now censored by the mainstream media, she previously was a staff reporter at numerous American Indian newspapers and a stringer for AP, USA Today and others. She lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, and then traveled with the Zapatistas. She covered the climate summits in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and Cancun, Mexico, in 2010.

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About Brenda Norrell

Personal Website
http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com/

Biography

Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 32 years. She is publisher of Censored News, focusing on Indigenous Peoples, human rights and the US border. Censored News was created after Norrell was censored, then terminated, by Indian Country Today after serving as a longtime staff reporter. Now censored by the mainstream media, she previously was a staff reporter at numerous American Indian newspapers and a stringer for AP, USA Today and others. She lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, and then traveled with the Zapatistas. She covered the climate summits in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and Cancun, Mexico, in 2010.