Former First Nation’s Focus intern wins national journalism awards |

Former First Nation’s Focus intern wins national journalism awards

Special to First Nation’s Focus
Jarrette Werk, left, and Karina Gonzalez shared stories of Latino and indigenous people this summer in Miami.
Courtesy Reynolds School of Journalism

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Generation Indigenous (Gen I) was launched by President Obama in December 2014. It is a Native youth initiative focused on removing the barriers that stand between Native youth and their opportunity to succeed. Visit to learn more.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was first published on the University of Nevada, Reno Reynolds School of Journalism website on Aug. 2, 2018, and has been updated to include details about Mr. Werk’s tribal affiliation and internship information with First Nation’s Focus.

In July, University of Nevada, Reno Reynolds School of Journalism students Karina Gonzalez and Jarrette Werk both attended conferences in Miami.

Gonzalez was selected for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) Student Project, while Werk was selected as a journalism fellow and newsroom leader with the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA).

Werk is a proud Aaniiih (WhiteClay) Tribal member from the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation of Fort Belknap, Montana.

He served as an intern in the summer of 2017 for First Nation’s Focus, writing and taking photos for the Reno-based publication that focuses on American Indian news across the Sierra Nevada.

Werk attended the NAJA conference last year in Anaheim, and was a second-year fellow in Miami this year. While at the conference, he took over the Reynolds School Instagram story and gave students an inside look at the NAJA newsroom.

The NAJA fellows produced stories and learned about mobile reporting, all while meeting media professionals in the field. Werk regards his trip as the highlight of his summer and the starting-point on his storytelling path.

“My focus is indigenous reporting,” Werk said. “Being able to meet all these people from across Indian Country doing the type of things that I want to do, lets me know that it’s possible to do exactly what you love.”

The NAJA conference helped Werk see the opportunities with indigenous reporting and pushed him to develop a further interest in multimedia reporting.

“The conference really opened my eyes to all the issues that aren’t being covered and all the issues that can be covered throughout America,” he said. “I need to push myself to do more multimedia stories and share the issues that aren’t being shared.”

Werk is currently a part of the first cohort of Generation Indigenous where he can make his dreams of telling more multimedia stories and amplifying the native youth voice a reality.

“Something that I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid is going around America and highlighting influential native youth and using my platform to reclaim the native narrative,” he said. “Because far too often indigenous people have been in front of the lens but have never been behind the lens.

“We haven’t been able to share who we are through our own perspective.”

While at the conference, Werk won three awards at the 2018 Native American Journalists Media Awards:

• First place for Best Feature Photo, for his image of Teresa Melendez, of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, dancing prior to the A Tribe Called Red performance on the final day of Artown on July 31, 2017, in Reno’s Wingfield Park.

• Second place for Best Sports Story, for his June 2017 feature, “Nevada Wolf Pack’s Tahnee Robinson continues to change the game of basketball.”

• Honorable mention for Best News Story, for his August 2017 feature, “Pyramid Lake Summer Cultural Day Camp teaches Paiute language to children.”

Go to the full list of winners in the 2018 Native American Journalists Media Awards.


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