Journalism professors and spouses co-author book

Kylie Carlson

Professors and spouses in the School of Journalism and Broadcasting have co-authored their first academic work together: “Indian Country: Telling a Story in a Digital Age.”

Benjamin LaPoe and Victoria LaPoe met at Louisiana State University where they were both pursuing doctorate degrees. They were then married a year later in 2010.

Since then, the LaPoe’s have both landed spots on the Minorities and Communications board for the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.

Additionally, they are both professors in the School of Journalism and Broadcasting. Ben is an assistant journalism professor and Victoria is a coordinator of broadcasting and film as well as an assistant professor.

Their co-authored book was written with extensive research on diversity among newspapers, specifically in the Native American culture. Victoria LaPoe, however, is the lead author on the book, her inspiration stemming from her work on her dissertation.

Victoria grew up close to her native heritage alongside her grandfather who was of Cherokee decent. Additionally, she was a first generation college student on her grandfather’s side.

Victoria especially found it interesting when she learned of the oppression against her grandfather during a group visit in which he was speaking native language.

“He ended up leaving the chat group because of all the racism towards Native people,” Victoria said of her 82-year-old grandfather.

The LaPoe’s began their work in 2012, doing numerous interviews within the tribes that she knew, and even ones she didn’t. The research was meant for her dissertation, and was then updated for the book.

During the writing process after graduate school, she kept up with many of the controversies affecting the very people her work surrounded, a big one being the name of the NFL team, the Washington Redskins.

“There was more news emerging in the mainstream press, that needed addressed at the time we were getting ready to start publishing, so Ben and I ended up going back and adding a lot of research and interviews in,” Victoria said.

Victoria also said the hardest part wasn’t finding publishers or interviews, it was finding reviewers.

“I wanted to make sure the reviewers understood Native people and journalism to make sure we were getting the feedback we needed to make the book stronger,” Victoria said.

Ben said Victoria had always been passionate about diversity in media which led to his own passion for it. His passion had always been in black media and the diversity among it, but he found a big interest in Native media once the project started.

“Indian Country” is set to come out in February 2017 and will be included in Michigan States Native American series. All the proceeds of the book will go to Native American Journalists Fellows.

Victoria will also be holding and attending the first ever joint newsroom between mainstream and Native American journalists this September in New Orleans. This newsroom will be a part of SPJ’s Excellence in Journalism conference.