NAJA calls for second apology and audit of New York Times story

Aboriginal Peoples Television Network reporting reveals ethics violations 

NORMAN, Oklahoma — Earlier this month, officers with the Native American Journalists Association met with the New York Times editorial team to discuss concerns about the recent feature story, “Drawn From Poverty: Art Was Supposed to Save Canada’s Inuit. It Hasn’t.” by Catherine Porter. The story focuses on Ooloosie Saila and other Inuit artists in, and around, Cape Dorset, Nunavut. During the meeting, the NYT staff assured NAJA leaders that despite the use of stereotypes throughout the story, it was approved by Saila prior to publication.

The Nov. 11 meeting followed a NAJA statement demanding an apology from Porter, recommending the NYT provide an audit of the story and urging the outlet to hire Indigenous journalists and editors.

Recent reporting from the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network revealed that although Saila was contacted prior to publication, she was not fully apprised of the background information that was prominently featured throughout the piece. Saila also refutes some characterizations of Indigenous life in the story. 

APTN reporting also revealed that after Porter’s story was published, she told Saila that her coverage would help Saila sell more artwork. “She was saying that my artwork will sell fast,” Saila told APTN. 

These ethical breaches of SPJ and NYT guidelines have raised concerns at NAJA. For a second time, NAJA is calling on Porter to apologize and for NYT to immediately audit the story. In addition to sharing the reporting process followed, NYT must address the ethical breaches. NAJA also calls for NYT editors to apologize for misrepresenting key facts to Saila, Indigenous people in Cape Dorsett, and NAJA. 

The role of media is more important than ever and a journalism outlet’s inability to listen to serious criticism highlights the institution’s integrity. NAJA demands that top editors at the Times take immediate action.

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