Water protector Christiana Eala at Standing Rock
Water protector Christiana Eala at Standing Rock The Stranger

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Back in September, Stranger news reporter Sydney Brownstone was on the ground at the Standing Rock Sioux camp documenting water protector's peaceful protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline construction project. She and a handful of other journalists, including Democracy Now's Amy Goodman, were some of the few reporters who trekked out to North Dakota in the midst of a mainstream media blackout on this movement.

Brownstone, Goodman, reporter Tristan Ahtone, and Prairie TV & Radio's Amy Sisk spoke to Al Jazeera's The Listening Post about the media's coverage of Standing Rock. Watch after the jump.

So, why the media blackout?

Ahtone, a freelance reporter for Al Jazeera and a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, says that indigenous people rarely make the news unless they meet what he called the "WD4 rule, which is that they have to be warriors, drunks, dying, dancing, or drumming."

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And this is part of a larger failure of the media to cover issues affecting marginalized communities, said Brownstone.

"I've noticed that, in covering social movements over the years, that some of the most egregious abuses of power have been when journalists aren't around and that's why journalism is so integral to a functioning democracy," she said.