Underscore supports in-depth reporting in Oregon and beyond. We encourage and aim to produce impactful, revelatory stories that might otherwise go unreported and unheard, with a special focus on Indian Country. We are funded by grants and donations from organizations and individuals who believe in the importance of independent journalism.
Underscore produces collaborative journalism framed by justice to promote civic engagement and a fair-minded society.
How We Got Our Start
Underscore News is a nonprofit, public-service reporting team based in Portland, Oregon. We seek to amplify the voices and issues of communities who are historically underrepresented in media, with a special focus on Indian Country.
We got our start as the Oregon reporting team for InvestigateWest. In 2019, we became a standalone and locally managed nonprofit. We publish original and independent reporting about tribal communities and disseminate our work at no cost through tribal and non-tribal news networks. Our reporting is framed by equity — who is not being heard and why. This philosophy guides all of our coverage.
A Collaborative Model
Starting a news organization today isn't easy. Underscore News was kicked into gear with core funding from Meyer Memorial Trust, The American Journalism Project and Many Dances Family Fund. Our operational model is to maintain a nimble newsroom that delivers the most impact by bridging the gap between underreported communities and rural, tribal and legacy media newsrooms in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.
Underscore is committed to providing the greatest amplification of Indigenous people and issues through our formal and informal partnerships with other regional media. At no charge, we offer our coverage for digital reposting, print and broadcast so that our stories are shared widely and broadly. When possible, we approach our work from a position of strength, power and solutions, rather than deficit. Our Indian Country reporting is grounded in historical context and aims to provide a better understanding of sovereignty and treaty rights.
Walking the Walk
There is clearly a need for this work. Newsrooms are closing at an alarming rate, leaving many communities without the news and information they need to thrive. Underscore’s stories focus on elevating underrepresented voices to foster conversation, interrupt stereotypes, untangle complex issues and promote a better understanding of one another.
We seek to live by the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion in both our coverage and operations, including recruitment and hiring. We are proud to be a BIPOC-led organization with a majority-Indigenous staff, and are equally proud of our Underscore Indigenous Journalism Fellowship, launched in 2022 to encourage and equip a new generation of Native journalists by hosting and training Indigenous journalism students from the University of Montana each summer.
Underscore took home five 2022 National Native Media Awards held by the Native American Journalists Association, the nation’s premier professional Indigenous media organization. We're both honored by the national recognitions and motivated to continue improving our ability and capacity to do this important work, guided by the ethics of diversity, equity and inclusion. We believe journalism that is grounded in these ideals has the power to contribute to a more equitable, fair and just society.