Established in 2011, Native News Online has successfully educated sponsors about its audience, resulting in a substantial newsletter subscriber base funded by grants and corporate sponsorships. This approach has paved the way for engagement with tribal leaders and health advocates, creating opportunities for potential funding sponsors.

The newsroom plays a crucial role in delivering vital daily news that impacts Native Americans nationwide. Its reach extends to millions of readers annually, encompassing both Native and non-Native audiences. This includes American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and individuals with a vested interest in Native American issues.

A two-pronged challenge in their programming and business model is central to their work: educating their audience about information and services specific to this community and while educating corporations or advertisers about the important intricacies of Indian Country culture so necessary to ensure they can reach them. 

“They don’t understand what it is, what it means, how many people there are, what the audience looks like,” said Associate Publisher Brian Edwards, who referenced a recent study that stated 40 % of the American public doesn’t even know that Native American people still exist in the United States. 

The publication has made inroads on helping disparate partners — from small firms selling powwow supplies to federal agencies, as well as national brands like Nike and Hulu — understand the community it serves while identifying new ways to meet the needs of its audience. 

In January 2020, Native News created an editorial offering focused on the topics most important to its audience, launching its Native News Health Desk after finding virtually no publications were consistently covering health equity and health issues in Indian Country. Coverage ranges from policy reporting to “news you can use” type campaigns about health concerns like vaccines and diabetes. 

A grant and corporate sponsorship underwrote the effort to report on approximately 400+ health care stories and launch an attached newsletter, which has drawn approximately 32,000 subscribers. Sponsors receive acknowledgement through social media “shout outs” and modules placed at the end of each story, providing amplification of their message with a target audience. 

Based on the success of the initiative, the publication plans to create an advisory board of tribal leaders and tribal health advocates where sponsors can learn more about the needs of the community while finding new ways to continue this work together. 

“We’re trying to create conversation amongst the key people related to Indian health as well as their sponsors basically,” explained Edwards. “They also have a voice and they play a role in that ecosystem as well.”

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