MISSOULA – A University of Montana School of Journalism assistant professor has been elected as president of the Native American Journalists Association.
Jason Begay, a Navajo from Gallup, New Mexico, and a UM alumnus, joined the UM faculty in 2010. He serves as Native American projects director at the School of Journalism and co-teaches UM’s award-winning Native News Honors Project. He also oversees Reznet, a Native American news, information and entertainment website.
“NAJA’s been pretty important to me in my career,” he said. “I’m both really excited and nervous to lead the organization that has done so much for myself and others.”
NAJA launched in 1984 to address challenges faced by American Indian journalists and to foster educational and professional opportunities for indigenous members of the media.
Before graduating from the School of Journalism in 2002, Begay received NAJA scholarships and mentoring from organization members. Such support helped pave the way for a series of professional successes, including an internship with The New York Times and reporting for The Oregonian and The Navajo Times.
Begay was selected to replace outgoing NAJA President Mary Hudetz, who also studied journalism at UM, at NAJA’s annual National Native Media Conference in Washington, D.C., July 9-12. The 2015 conference drew more attendees than it has in roughly a decade.
Begay said among his first tasks as president will be to devise strategies for continuing to grow upon the organization’s recent successes under Hudetz’s leadership, including thriving NAJA membership numbers.
Also during this year's NAJA conference, the organization granted former UM journalism Professor Denny McAuliffe the 2015 Medill-Native American Journalists Association Milestone Achievement Award in recognition of his ongoing commitment to mentoring and teaching American Indian journalists.
For more information on the UM School of Journalism, visit http://jour.umt.edu/.