A journalism program for northerners, by northerners in the NWT
Many journalists from the South come to the North to break into the news business. Some later move to larger centers and larger roles in industry, while others stay and build their lives in the north.
What is less common is that northerners find their way into journalism to cover and report on their own country, drawing on their own experiences of growing up in the north.
Now, several current and former journalists – some Northern natives, some volunteers – are leading a program designed to help increase Northern representation in journalism in the Northwest Territories.
The Northern Journalism Training Initiative, in partnership with Journalists for Human Rights and the Google News Initiative, is offering a four-week training program beginning March 27 in Inuvik, NWT for residents of the territory aged 18 and over who want to develop or acquire journalistic storytelling skills.
“We really just want to see more Northerners — more Indigenous Northerners — telling their own stories, in their own communities, from their own communities, about their own communities,” said Kaila Jefferd-Moore, a Haida journalist and professional communications consultant, who grew up up in Inuvik. She is also the program lead for the project.
We really just want to see more Northerners – more indigenous Northerners – telling their own stories. – Kaila Jefferd-Moore, Project Manager, Northern Journalism Training Initiative
She said her experience with newsrooms in the north after returning from her journalism program at the University of King’s College came as a surprise and provided part of the impetus for the initiative.
“I thought there were more of us,” she said of the lack of Indigenous reporters in newsrooms in the north.
There are very few Indigenous reporters in the Northwest Territories. About half of the population is indigenous, but this diversity is not reflected in the editorial offices of the territory.
Jefferd-Moore told Marc Winkler, a CBC North radio host, that it’s the people in their communities who best understand what’s happening and what’s important, but they’re not necessarily connected to newsrooms to tell those stories.
And this is where the Northern Journalism Training Initiative comes in. Jefferd-Moore described the four-week training as a boot camp for journalists or those who want to become one. You’ll get hands-on experience with the tools and workflows of trading and will be matched with mentors.
“It’s valuable for everyone and everyone to have these skills and tools to share their stories … in the different ways they want to be heard,” she said.
There is also an optional internship at the end of the program.
“If people really want to do this professionally, we offer them a connection to local newsrooms.”
And sometimes just walking through the door is enough, says a Northern journalist who looks back on his own career in the industry.
It’s for anyone who wants to tell our story. – Louie Goose, lifelong Northern journalist and NJTI member
Louie Goose is a lifelong Inuvialuit journalist, singer-songwriter and storyteller from the Beaufort Delta region. He has worked for the CBC across Canada and in Toronto on their flagship current affairs program how it happens and with NWT-based Aboriginal radio station CKLB Radio. He is also a member and advisor to the Northern Journalism Training Initiative.
He told CBC north wind Presenter Wanda McLeod hopes that northerners interested in journalism will simply apply for the training and not worry about their qualifications. He said it’s always been the northern route into journalism.
“A lot of us learned on the job — I did and ended up with the CBC,” he said. “It’s for anyone who wants to tell our story.”
For more information on the Northern Journalism Training Initiative and to apply for the upcoming 4 week workshop in Inuvik, visit their website here.