Efforts are underway to pursue designing and launching an upgraded Osage News website, as well as a reader-friendly app for electronic devices.
During the 10th Special Session, the Seventh Osage Nation Congress unanimously passed a $130,000 appropriation bill (ONCA 21-70 sponsored by Second Congressional Speaker Jodie Revard) to provide tribal funding for a new website and app to be developed. The funding will go toward professional fee costs as the newspaper continues with the bidding process in selecting professionals to work on the project.
The newspaper initially pursued a request for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for the proposed newer website and app project during the special session. But as the session discussion focused on which project and endeavors seeking ARPA funding would be approved, Revard proposed the funding source be changed to tribal funding due to other ARPA funding bills getting more priority at the time.
“The Osage News is in need of a new website, mobile app and increased bandwidth for that new website,” said News Editor Shannon Shaw Duty who met with the Congressional Government Operations Committee. “In 2020 during the main (COVID-19) pandemic, I feel like we were essential workers, so we continued to report on the status of COVID-19 and how it was affecting our community in terms of numbers. We covered personal stories of our health workers, etc. I feel like the Osage News is a trusted source for news about what the Nation is doing or when a crisis happens ... During that time, our website was handling increased bandwidth meaning a lot of people were coming to our website that our website wasn’t able to handle ... and we need to upgrade to a more expensive package to survive the increased traffic that our website is having.”
Duty also told the committee: “We have been in need of a mobile app for quite some time, I feel like we could give COVID alerts through the app, we could give different alerts on events that the Osage Nation is having or the Wah-Zha-Zhe Health Center is having, just a better way to keep up with the community ... Our website is also an archive, all of our newspapers that we have produced are PDFs and they’re searchable and you can download them from the website and all that takes space.”
The committee unanimously voted to pass ONCA 21-70 onto Congress with a “do pass” recommendation. Before the bill’s vote on Aug. 2, Revard motioned for the funding source to change to tribal funds and Congress passed the amendment and the bill received a 12-0 approval. The next day after the session ended, Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear signed the bill to take effect.