Editorials

Letter to Osage News readers from former Editorial Board members

October 5, 2012

To Osage News Readers:

Earlier this week we learned that new legislation from the Osage Congress effectively ends our service as members of the Osage Nation Editorial Board. We respect the law and end our terms hopeful that our work has established a stable foundation for a free and independent press in the Osage Nation. Though we were appointed by Osage Nation governmental bodies, our commitment has always been to you as Osage readers and to the principles of a free press.

Last December, we contacted officials in Congress and the office of Principal Chief John Red Eagle to alert both branches to the upcoming end of our appointed terms. We hoped our efforts would prompt Congress and the chief to make new appointments in a timely manner. Neither branch has managed to fulfill its obligation under the Independent Press Act to appoint qualified people with journalism experience to the board. To preserve the critical function of the board in protecting press freedom, we continued to serve until this week, including making an appointment of a third member of the board, Tara McLain Manthey, as called for in the Press Act.

Recognizing that by ending our terms the board would be left with neither a congressional nor executive branch appointee, Congress has appointed former Osage Nation Congress Speaker Jeri Jean Branstetter as an interim board member. We commend Congress for addressing the issue of our lapsed terms. We have worked with former Speaker Branstetter and have every hope that she will provide us as Osages with the press freedoms that are enshrined in our constitution and decided in favor of by the Osage Supreme Court.

The Editorial Board needs, however, appointees who have the journalistic qualifications the law specifies. We respectfully request that you as Osage News readers join us in urging Congress and Chief Red Eagle to swiftly appoint permanent members with the journalism experience the law calls for. We also urge Congress to confirm Ms. Manthey as a board member.

It's been our honor to serve on the board for the past two-and-a-half years, and we're proud of our role in helping to transform the Osage News from a one-sided PR newsletter by the Executive branch into a top-notch, professional news organization, now one of the best tribal newspapers and Web sites in the country, as the Osage News' numerous awards attest. We hope that our replacements on the board will be able to boast the same thing upon expiration of their terms years hence.

Sincerely,

Denny McAuliffe, The Washington Post

Robert Warrior, Ph.D., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign