Hopi High graduate finds her place at Indian Country Today
PHOENIX — Mary Grace Pewewardy, a graduate of Hopi High School’s media program, is now working as a broadcast intern for Indian Country Today (ICT) at their Phoenix office located in the same building as Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.
Pewewardy visited this building many times in the past, including for journalism conferences.
“I even wanted to attend here, so it’s wild to me that I have returned as an employee. The internship involves helping out the broadcast team,” she said.
ICT, best known for its online content, decided to start a newscast during the 2020 pandemic and Pewewardy said it has been highly successful. She is currently working with the ICT broadcast team to help produce, edit and promote the newscast through social media.
Pewewardy, who is Hopi, Comanche, Kiowa and Assinboine, said her main duty is creating social media posts.
“I am thankful that when ICT brought me on board, they were open to helping me explore my interests,” she said. “There was no set duty. Instead, they showed me many parts of broadcasting and asked me which one I wanted to explore more — I always had an interest in social media."
Pewewardy said she was tasked with the job of making the ICT Instagram look nice.She has also dabbled with ICT video editing.
“I love my duties. I am excited every day to go to work,” she said.
Pewewardy said the part she loves the most is feeling important to the news casting team.
“I was able to add a new element to ICTs social media promotion,” she said. “I created a graphic to promote our next day’s guest. It is a new element that ICT has not done before, but the team loved my idea. It is a graphic you will see every week day on ICT Instagram and Facebook stories.”
Pewewardy said her internship is important to her because ICT plays an important role in presenting Native news.
“I have always had a passion for journalism and media, but I did not have a passion for typical news. This made it hard for me to dive into the field,” she said. “Native issues and information has always been interesting to me. I mean, it’s our people, so of course it’s important to pay attention.”
Pewewardy said ICT does a good job of getting their information across and covering tribes throughout the world.
“I believe this type of coverage is crucial," she said. "It (offers) a sense of community to know the struggles of other tribes and how we can help."
She said it also gives her a sense of pride to see other natives and their accomplishments.
"It is a sense of bringing tribes together," she said. "Through this internship, ICT has taught me so much already — they have revived my love for journalism and media."
Pewewardy said she hopes ICT's newscast can become universally known.
According to Pewewardy, most of ICTs viewers are in their late 20s or 30s. She wishes more of the younger generation would view Native news.
“I know news isn’t the first thing that comes to mind for adolescents or adults. But this is our people we are talking about,” she said.
Pewewardy likes that ICT interviews Natives in various occupations, which she said can inspire others. She said the younger generation spends most of their time on social media and she feels raising ICTs social media presence could help them reach more people.
Pewewardy, said she was constantly on social media before joining ICT.
Some of her stronger skills include editing, designing and coding.
“I believe these skills are important for an online newscast and the process to properly put together a newscast and promote it,” she said.
Pewewardy said the skills she needs to work on include adjusting to Associated Press (AP) style used in writing and editing.
“I have been away for so long, I forgot catchy tag-lines or writing a decent preview,” she said. “I also want to improve my video editing, which is a skill they need help with for their newscasts. I can do small edits, perhaps a promo, but editing the full newscast is scary, especially since we work with a deadline."
Pewewardy said she hopes to make a career out of working for ICT and if it doesn’t work out she still hopes to stay in Native media.
“I am really enjoying my time here and it has revived my love for journalism and media, I wish to stay,” she said.
Her advice to Native youth going into media or journalism is to stick with it.
“If you are passionate about it, keep going,” she said. “I was sidetracked and I am just finding my way back. I am missing all the time I could have spent in this field. Media is important and it is an ever-changing field. From newspapers to broadcast, there is so much you could do and we are always changing with the times.”