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SPJ, NAJA, NLA host virtual roundtable for 'Bad Press' documentary as part of Sunshine Week


Claire Regan, SPJ National President, cregan@spj.org
Zoë Berg, SPJ Communications Specialist, 317-920-4785, zberg@spj.org
Rebecca Landsberry-Baker, NAJA Executive Director, rebeccalandsberry@naja.com
Belinda Williams, NLA Deputy Executive Director, bwilliams@newsleaders.org

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists, Native American Journalists Association and News Leaders Association have set a virtual roundtable at 1 p.m. EDT Friday, March 17 during Sunshine Week to discuss the documentary “Bad Press” which follows the struggle for free press at Muscogee Nation.

NAJA executive director and documentary co-director Rebecca Landsberry-Baker (Muscogee), co-director Joe Peeler and main participant and director of Muscogee Nation’s independent news outlet, Mvskoke Media, Angel Ellis (Muscogee) will lead the discussion.

Indigenous Media Freedom Alliance and Buffalo’s Fire founder and SPJ Freedom of Information Committee Chair Jodi Rave Spotted Bear (Three Affiliated Tribes) will moderate and lead a Q&A with the film team.

Winner of the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Freedom of Expression from the Sundance Institute, “Bad Press” follows Ellis as she and her colleagues fight for truth and transparency in the wake of the Muscogee Nation National Council’s repeal of the 2015 Free Press Act.

According to the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Landsberry-Baker and Peeler tell a nuanced, empowering tale of a modern Indigenous community fighting for transparency and access to information in order to hold their government accountable. “Bad Press” is an energizing watch — full of humor, humanity, and numerous twists and turns.

Presenters will discuss free press and open information at Muscogee Nation, and within tribal governments generally, and share information about the documentary, its award and importance, upcoming showings and impact goals for the film.

Attendees can register for the webinar. After registering, attendees will receive a confirmation email with information about how to join.


Angel Ellis has worked in nearly every aspect of print journalism and is director of Mvskoke Media. Ellis is a NAJA Elias Boudinot Free Press Award winner and advocate for tribal free press. She advocated for the Muscogee Nation to become the first tribe to usher in a citizen ratified constitutionally protected and fully funded tribal free press.

Rebecca Landsberry-Baker is an enrolled citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the executive director of the Native American Journalists Association. She is a recipient of the 2018 NCAIED “Native American 40 Under 40” award and was selected to the Harvard Shorenstein News Leaders Fall 2022 cohort. Landsberry-Baker made her directorial debut with the documentary feature film, “Bad Press,” which was supported by the Sundance Institute, Ford Foundation JustFilms, NBC and the Gotham. “Bad Press” premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and received the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Freedom of Expression.

Joe Peeler is a Sundance award-winning director and editor whose work has appeared on NETFLIX, HBO, FX, ESPN, Hulu and CBS. Peeler began his career apprenticing under legendary director Peter Bogdanovich, and from there edited Lucy Walker’s Academy Awards Shortlist documentary short “The Lion’s Mouth Opens;” multiple episodes of the Netflix original series “Flint Town;” and Margaret Brown’s SXSW premiere documentary short “The Black Belt.” Most recently, Peeler co-directed “Bad Press,” which premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Freedom of Expression.

Jodi Rave Spotted Bear is chair of the Society of Professional Journalists Freedom of Information Committee. She’s also the founder and executive director of the Indigenous Media Freedom Alliance, a nonprofit media organization located in Bismarck, North Dakota. The Alliance operates Buffalo's Fire, an independent digital news site. She has been the fellowship recipient of Harvard’s Nieman, MIT Knight Science in Journalism Project, Stanford’s John S. Knight and also a Bush leadership fellow.

An on-demand recording will be available via the NAJA website and YouTube channel, the SPJ FOI page as well as NLA’s Sunshine Week site.

About Sunshine Week
Sunshine Week was launched in 2005 by the American Society of News Editors — now News Leaders Association — and has grown into an enduring initiative to promote open government. The News Leaders Association has partnered with the Society of Professional Journalists to host the annual nationwide celebration of access to public information and what it means for you and your community.

About SPJ
SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund or give to the SPJ Foundation.

About NAJA
The Native American Journalists Association 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. View more from NAJA about tribal free press, its essential elements and freedom of information.

About NLA
The American Society of News Editors and the Associated Press Media Editors joined forces to become the News Leaders Association. NLA empowers journalists at all levels with the training, support and networks they need to lead and transform diverse, sustainable newsrooms.


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