Women journalists have always been at the forefront of change—so as the U.S. faces compounding crises, it’s no surprise that women journalists are stepping up to bring truth to the public.
During Women’s History Month 2021, the International Women’s Media Foundation and Ms. began spotlighting women journalists who are making the news media stronger, more diverse and equitable. But their work didn’t end on March 31—and neither does ours. Change starts with recognizing the people behind the byline. All year, join us to learn The Story Behind Her.
This Week: Jenni Monet
I am a journalist, but I’m also…
a narrative caretaker, an Indigenous ancestor, an intelligent fighter, a trauma survivor, a lover of our shared planet…
How do your identities shape your reporting? When did your intersections help you report better or help you approach a story differently?
I spent all my summers and a few school years growing up on the Laguna Pueblo, where in the late 1970s and early 80s, our community was reeling from the aftereffects of operating, at once, the largest open pit uranium mine in the world: the Jackpile Mine. It was a federal government plan that employed hundreds of Lagunans, including many of my relatives.
The loss of language, culture and Pueblo life today is difficult to take. For instance, my grandfather, my link to ceremony and traditions, died before his time from the prolonged impacts of radiation exposure.
My understanding of the world, like many Indigenous Peoples, comes from the land. We see our story of struggle and survival everywhere—from the names of American cities like Milwaukee, or in majestic rivers like the Penobscot. This relationship to the land could not be more true in how I, as an Indigenous woman and journalist, report on what is arguably our biggest emergency: the climate crisis.
Colonization everywhere happens by the exploitation of Indigenous lands and what lies beneath it. And so reporting on pipelines, dams or the [Arctic National Wildlife Refuge] (ANWR) becomes necessary to understanding the Indigenous narrative behind these developments. In this way, it makes our story essential to every law and policy that dictate our society: health care, housing, banking, education. It all circles back to the land—which, for me, is a metaphorical gauge for how we treat our most vulnerable people, often Indigenous Peoples.
Who are your biggest influences—journalists or otherwise?
Newly-confirmed Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland challenges my journalistic integrity to the core. Watching her gracefully take on male toxicity and caustic partisan criticism during her two-day hearing before the Senate Energy Committee was an inspiring thing to see. These are the instances where, as a journalist whose job it is to scrutinize people in power, and hold politicians accountable, is altered simply because the players have now changed.
How Secretary Haaland will helm the Interior—the very department designed to “exterminate and eradicate” us—and shift the critical narrative towards Native truth and visibility will no doubt have an influence on how I do my job going forward.
On the tough days, what keeps you going?
My best friend. Exercise. Meditation. My Indigenous teachings.
How does your community lift you up? How do you lift up others in your community?
My boss from my first job in journalism two decades ago told me that our number one role as a journalist is as a public servant—that our primary duty is to respond to the needs of our community. It’s shaped my entire philosophy for how I cover the news.
Sometimes that might mean spending two hours or two days on the phone or in person to discuss things that may never make it into my copy. Indigenous People have had so much taken from them. The gift of their time and their story is truly uplifting—and why I try to honor that giving each and every time.
Support Monet’s work and the work of Indigenously by heading here.