Mark Trahant is an independent writer, teacher and a “Twitter poet.” He is a 2009-2010 Kaiser Media Fellow and is writing about health care reform with the focus of learning from programs the government already operates, such as the Indian Health Service.
Trahant recently completed a monograph on the legacy of Sen. Henry M. Jackson. “Scoop” Jackson was well known for his work on the environment and in the international arena. Less well known is his legacy on American Indian policy. He was the sponsor of a series of major reforms ranging from the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act to the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. The book will be pubished in Spring 2010.
Trahant was a visiting lecturer for a course he developed called “Twitter & Democracy” at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The course raised questions about how a nation can tell its story in 140 characters. It explored the relationship between social media and the news media. Course began with a history of media change, and then followed how the values of professional media are being rewritten, ignored or transmitted through social media, including MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. It also reviewed how social media changed the landscape from the presidential election to fundraising for nonprofit groups. Students considered the standards for social media and journalism in a democratic society. He will teach a similar class at the University of Idaho in 2010.
He also writes “news poems” on Twitter, four line rhymes based on current news events under the handle, “NewsRimes4lines.” He began his independent enterprise in March 2009.
Trahant is the former editor of the editorial page for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer where he chaired the daily editorial board, directed a staff of writers, editors and a cartoonist. He has been chairman and chief executive officer at the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. The Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit is the country's premier institute for providing advanced training and services nationally to help news media reflect diversity in content, staffing and business operations. Trahant is a member of Idaho's Shoshone-Bannock Tribe and former president of the Native American Journalists Association. He is a former columnist at The Seattle Times and has been publisher of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News in Moscow, Idaho; executive news editor of The Salt Lake Tribune; a reporter at the Arizona Republic in Phoenix; and has worked at several tribal newspapers.
He has won numerous journalism awards and was a finalist for the 1989 Pulitzer Prize in national reporting as co-author of a series on federal-Indian policy. In 1995 Trahant was a visiting professional scholar at The Freedom Forum's First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University. He is the author of “Pictures of Our Nobler Selves,” a history of American Indian contributions to journalism published by The Freedom Forum. He is also the author of a commissioned work, “The Whole Salmon,” published by Idaho’s Sun Valley Center for the Arts. His most recent book is “Lewis & Clark Through Indian Eyes,” an anthology edited by the late Alvin Josephy Jr. He also serves as a Trustee of the Diversity Institute, an affiliate of the Freedom Forum, based in Washington, DC. Trahant was a juror for the Pulitzer Prize in 2004 and 2005.
Trahant is married to LeNora Begay Trahant and they have two boys, Marvin and Elias. They live on Bainbridge Island in Washington state.