Drum wins 14 Native American Journalist Association awards in 2021

Lexy Young and Kalynn Weaver trace outlines of faces and names that are etched into the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the National Mall. Southern Ute Drum Reporter/Photographer, McKayla Lee won second place in the Best Feature Photo category of the 2021 NAJA Awards.
McKayla Lee | SU Drum

 NAJA honors outstanding journalism throughout Indian Country  

The Native American Journalist Association (NAJA) announced the winners for the 2021 National Native Media Awards, Wednesday, Aug. 4. The Southern Ute Drum took home a total of 14 awards: including the prestigious honor of winning first place for General Excellence and first place for Best Digital Publication.  

The Southern Ute Drum also swept the Best News Photo category with first place going to Reporter/Photographer McKayla Lee for her photographs of the
“Sing our Rivers Red” Earring exhibit. Second place to Graphic Specialist Robert L. Ortiz for his photo coverage of, “A graduation like no other!”  Third place to Lee for
“SUIMA hosts ‘Family Night’ & Book Fair.” Honorable Mention was awarded to
Media Archivist Fabian Martinez for his photograph of the tuuCai Wellness Court titled, “Wellness Court honors Weaver.”  

Martinez also earned a third-place win for Best Feature Story for a feature titled, “Ghosts of the Railroad: La Boca Bridge revitalized.”  

In the Best Feature Photo category, Lee won second place for pre-pandemic coverage of the Southern Ute Education Department’s exploration of the National Mall titled, “Students stay Close Up in D.C.”  Southern Ute Drum Administrative Assistant and Public Relations Coordinator, Trennie Collins took home a third-place win for “SunUte welcomes Jiu-Jitsu” in the same category. 

Collins also took home a second and third place win in the Best Health Coverage category for her articles titled, “Easing mental health in the face of COVID-19″ and “Mental Health: Giacci helps us heal from our past” respectively.  

Ortiz brought home first place in the Best Layout: Print/Online category for 2020. 
 Lee won first place for “Cross-court action” and Collins took home second place for
“Youth ballers rock the court” in the Best Sports Photo category — both wins coming from regional youth basketball coverage — rounding out this year’s recognition for journalistic excellence by our peers in Indian Country. 

The Southern Ute Drum competes in Professional and Associate Division I for newspapers with a print circulation under 5,000. Digital excellence reflects our newspaper website and social media presence. The Drum’s affiliation with NAJA goes back to the early 1990’s; the association’s mission is stated as — Empowering a unique network of members and journalists covering Indian Country. NAJA serves more than 900 members, including media professionals working in tribal, freelance, independent and mainstream news outlets, as well as academia and students covering Indigenous communities and representing tribal nations from across North America. 

NAJA will recognize outstanding Indigenous journalism in 2021 during a virtual National Native Media Awards ceremony Thursday, Oct. 28. 

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