Colville editor’s resignation gets journalists’ atttention

Dear Editor,

The Native American Journalists Association is monitoring the actions which resulted in the resignation of editor of the Colville tribal newspaper during January.

Samuel F. Sampson resigned as the editor of the Tribal Tribune after learning the newspaper would be required to be previewed by the Colville’s executive director.

“I found out [Dec. 30, 2007] that the Acting Executive Director has to approve everything prior to the Tribal Tribune being printed,” he said in his resignation letter. “I am resigning as editor of the Tribal Tribune because I can’t work on the conditions now being proposed.”

The Native American Journalists Association takes serious note of the actions transpiring on Colville.

“NAJA is deeply rooted in free press protection issues and concerns,” said NAJA President Cristina Azocar. “The organization is on record stating that any form of control or censorship does any newspaper’s readers an injustice.”

The Tribal Tribune is published monthly and is distributed free to adult tribal members, but it does take non-tribal subscriptions.

Azocar said that it is important that all newspapers strive to build integrity and be a viable source of news and information.

“It is especially important for tribal newspapers to be a fair and accurate source for tribal news and information because it becomes their own story, in their own words,” she said.

Sampson has indicated that he would be willing to return to the Tribal Tribune, but the Colville Business Council would need to rescind the newspaper’s preview directive.

“When I appeared before an Interview Board for the position of Tribal Tribune Editor, the Board assured me that the Colville Business Council would not interfere with my position as editor,” he said.

There are just over 9,000 Colville tribal members who call the 1.4 million acre reservation located in north central Washington State home.

Azocar said NAJA hopes the Colville Business Council and tribal administrators can positively resolve the issue – protecting freedom of the press and showing their people they can trust how their actions are reported.

For more information contact NAJA President Cristina Azocar.

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