Sahan Journal focuses on the experience of immigrants in Minnesota – Twin Cities
“Sahan,” said Sahan Journal founder Mukhtar Ibrahim, is a “beautiful Somali word meaning“ pioneer ”. : “The most trusted figures in the community testing and coming back with reliable information. “
The Sahan Journal is a Minnesota media focused on immigrant communities and communities of color. When Ibrahim launched the Sahan Journal in 2019, he became a pioneer himself, venturing into the uncharted lands of creating a publication from scratch.
“The first six months I was like, ‘What am I doing?’ “
A former Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio reporter, Ibrahim emailed ideas for stories about immigrant communities and communities of color to an editor, which were not used. He would open the journal and find no stories he could relate to.
“You doubt you’re there in this newsroom that doesn’t really value stories about your community,” he said. “So either you put your head down, do your job, meet the deadlines and come home disappointed, or you take the risk and do something that will meet the need.”
Celebrating the newspaper’s two-year anniversary, Ibrahim now has a better idea of what he’s doing and says the risk has paid off. He leads a full-time team of 10 people.
Race quotas, insufficient staff diversity, and article restrictions that hamper mainstream newsrooms are no longer a problem for Ibrahim in the Sahan Journal newsroom. “We’re not saying, ‘We had this community yesterday. We don’t have to cover it today, ”Ibrahim said. “People keep dreaming big and writing all the stories they want to pursue.”
The stories are linked. Readers see stories relevant to their lives, and in return, they call and submit ideas for more. “They see their communities are valued,” Ibrahim said.
Ibrahim said the Sahan Journal sets the agenda by showing “that there are stories besides tragedies and breaking news” about people of color that can be shared.
From sharing successes to exposing injustices, the Sahan Journal is rooted in providing trusted services to its communities. In 2020, a new responsibility emerged: ensuring the safety of the community.
COVID-19 has hit communities of color hard, and from the early stages of the pandemic, Ibrahim and his team got to work issuing the COVID-19 guidelines in languages like Hmong and Somali.
The essential was the minimum for Ibrahim. He wanted to take a “holistic approach” that showed the full impact of COVID-19 on communities, whether tragic or inspiring. For example, in partnership with the University of Minnesota Journalism Program, Sahan Journal published a series of obituaries for people of color and immigrants.
“The coronavirus has killed a lot of people in our communities,” Ibrahim said.
The Sahan Journal also published articles on community members helping with health care. As vaccinations rolled out, Sahan Journal launched a series of Immunization FAQs featuring trusted community leaders. The staff wanted to “give the community the microphone and let them tackle issues with their own voice,” Ibrahim said.
COVID-19 continues to shape the newsroom, revealing inequalities in health systems, housing, insurance and education. Ibrahim plans to expand Sahan Journal’s coverage across Minnesota to represent more communities. Ibrahim will continue to build on his vision of becoming a Sahan for communities in Minnesota.
He also encourages others to follow his example and break away from the mainstream media.
“If you’re a person of color in the newsroom, you face a lot of challenges and there’s nothing you can do about it because you’re in the system. So, as soon as you step out of the system, you can dream big and pursue things that are important to you. “
Minnesota Humanities Center
These reports were created by high school students from ThreeSixty Journalism’s Summer 2021 News Reporter Academy in partnership with the Minnesota Humanities Center.
ThreeSixty Journalism paves the way for the development of multicultural storytellers in the media arts industry. The program is a loudspeaker for voices heard, where highly motivated high school students discover the power of the voice and develop their own as part of ThreeSixty’s immersive college success program. Launched in 1971 as a chapter of the Urban Journalism Workshop, the program has been part of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of St. Thomas since 2001. To learn more about ThreeSixty Journalism, visit threesixty.stthomas.edu.