UND appoints Mark Trahant to be new Charles R. Johnson Endowed Professor of Journalism

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News Article

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College of Arts & Sciences


Celebrated journalist and poet to focus on opportunities in new journalism

Mark Trahant, a well-known independent print and broadcast journalist and member of Idaho's Shoshone-Bannock Tribe, joins the University of North Dakota Communication Program faculty next fall as Charles R. Johnson Endowed Professor of Journalism.

“We’re so excited about Mark joining UND,” said Debbie Storrs, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, home of the Communication Program. “Mark will be a great addition to the Communication Program given his professional experience and will help develop a Native American student journalism program.”

“The goal to develop such a program is tied to our commitment to diversity and builds on existing strengths including the Native Media Center that was previously created by committed faculty,” Storrs said. “We also expect that Mark will help strengthen collaborative relationships with tribal community colleges.”

But there’s more: “Mark has the commitment and the experience to help train the next generation of media-savvy students, including those from tribal communities,” Storrs said.

He’s also going to help students at large understand how the news is nuanced today through different social media outlets, such as Twitter, blogs, and other forms of social media. It’s all about telling stories through multiple avenues.

“It’s an incredible opportunity for our students to be mentored by a professional like Mark,” Storrs said.

Trahant also will specifically encourage Native students to come to UND to major in journalism, and go back to communities to help them tell their stories.

Trahant, also a poet who blogs and tweets regularly, says journalism has been in his blood since forever.

“I started a crayon newspaper when I was around eight years old,” said Trahant, who is finishing his second term as the Atwood Chair of Journalism at the University of Alaska Anchorage. “I like being nosy and then telling everyone.”

Trahant says he’ll continue writing when he comes to UND—but his No. 1 job is teaching.

“One of the narratives people have is that journalism is in decline,” Trahant said. “But I see a great opportunity, a new beginning. The exciting message for students is that this is a great time to be studying journalism.”

Trahant, who writes a weekly column and posts on Twitter, was a reporter on the PBS series Frontline with a story called "The Silence," about sexual abuse by clergy in Alaska. He also was recently a Kaiser Media Fellow.

Trahant is the 2014 Atwood Chair of Journalism at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He was formerly president of the Native American Journalists Association and wrote The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars in 2010, a book about Sen. Henry M. Jackson.

He also was the editorial page for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, where he chaired the daily editorial board, directed a staff of writers, editors and a cartoonist. He has been chairman and chief executive officer at the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. The Oakland, California–based nonprofit is the country's premier institute for providing advanced training and services nationally to help news media reflect diversity in content, staffing and business operations. He is a former columnist at The Seattle Times and has been publisher of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News in Moscow, Idaho; executive news editor of The Salt Lake Tribune; a reporter at the Arizona Republic in Phoenix; and has worked at several tribal newspapers.

Trahant has won numerous journalism awards and was a finalist for the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting as co-author of a series on federal-Indian policy.