Osage News and VNN team up to strengthen Native news sustainability

NationalBusinessTechnologyCommunity Indigenous
Collaborator: Rachael Schuit
Published: 09/29/2023, 12:53 AM
Edited: 05/09/2024, 7:16 PM

(OSAGE NATION) For over 40 years, Osage News has kept their community members informed with accurate, in-depth reporting and timely information. In the early 2000s, Osage Nation updated their constitution to ban tribal leadership from making or enforcing laws that would restrict a free press. The tribe later banned defunding the paper and added protections for journalists who choose not to reveal their sources.

Osage News Editor Shannon Shaw Duty is now working to take their award-winning independent news service even further, by elevating their news products and increasing sustainability. 

“We have always been funded with tribal funding from the revenue of our Osage Casinos,” Shaw Duty said. “We are hoping to move away from that model to a more financially sustainable model where we aren’t dependent on casino revenue. Through a grant from Borealis Philanthropy, we have hired VNN to take us into the 21st century of news financial sustainability.” 

Verified News Network (VNN), a social news media company based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has worked to amplify underrepresented perspectives in the news ecosystem for the last five years. While this has included members of different BIPOC communities, as a Muscogee Creek citizen-owned organization, amplifying Indigenous voices has remained the top priority. 

“We launched our social news media enterprise with the goal of doing news differently,” VNN CEO Kelly Tidwell said. “That’s meant utilizing every news and business accelerator and development program available to us and conducting a lot of news and social media experiments. We’re excited to not only share VNN best practices with Osage News, but also help Osage News develop new products, services, and best practices to suit their own unique needs.” 

VNN Director Brittany Harlow came across Osage News’ Request For Proposals (RFP) for news development consultation at the bottom of a Local Independent Online News (LION) newsletter in June.

“LION is one of the best if not the best resource for news entrepreneurship I have ever encountered,” Harlow said. “Finding this opportunity with Osage News was just the cherry on the top. Working with Shannon has been a dream. I love her passion for independent news and service to her community. I’m looking forward to seeing what we accomplish over the next several months.” 

“Working with Brittany and Kelly, we are developing new Standard Operating Procedures, a business plan, event planning, news product development, analysis, and recommendations for our social media, website, and newspaper,” Shaw Duty said. “Training on various software and programs to enable us to produce email newsletters, data-driven reporting, and efficient ways of communication. They are measuring and analyzing our audience engagement, reach, journalism impact, and more.” 

In addition to sustainable news development, Osage News is now a registered affiliate on the VNN app, VNN’s free social news media platform, which will showcase Osage News stories and advertising for Osage News events, including the upcoming “Examining In Trust” Public Forum

This event expands on the groundbreaking In Trust podcast, which centers on the crimes committed against Osage people during the “Reign of Terror” in the 1920’s. It will be held the weekend of the worldwide theatrical release of “Killers of the Flower Moon”. Featured panelists will include the podcast creators and local Native experts. 

“Osage News has so much opportunity to capitalize on the national attention relating to the upcoming movie,” Harlow said. “Not just to benefit their news organization, but really the whole media landscape across their reservation and beyond. We’re thrilled to be a part of these exciting times, and to help bring Shannon’s ideas of leveling up Osage News offerings to life.” 

“We’re two months in and we are very pleased with the work we have been doing together,” Shaw Duty said. “At the end of the day, this collaboration will benefit Osage News readers and the Osage Nation overall.” 


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