Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief James Floyd has vetoed a bill to return independence to the tribe’s media operations.
Last year, Floyd signed a tribal council bill that did away with the nation’s free press law; but then, under public criticism, the council voted to reinstate the law.
Floyd’s latest move means the nation’s newspaper, radio show, weekly television program and graphic design shop will remain directly under the control of the tribe’s executive branch. Previously, a three-person editorial board maintained a buffer between the tribal government and the media operations, ensuring their independence.
In a letter addressed to Council Speaker Lucian Tiger, Floyd outlined several problems with the old system, including “operational inefficiencies” in daily operations and the failure to address proper financial oversight of Mvskoke Media’s $1.57 million budget.
He also described a reorganization for Mvskoke Media that would make it exclusively a news organization, essentially separating its graphic design functions for the tribe.
Floyd’s objections do not sound like he has an agenda to control the news content of an important outlet for tribe members, which is good to hear.
But with the editorial board eliminated, there is no mechanism in place to prevent that from happening in the future, which is troubling.
We urge Floyd to come up with a reorganization plan to solve the problems he outlines but restores independence to the media outlets.
If Mvskoke Media is going to be a trusted source of information about the tribe and its government, the readers and viewers have to feel certain that it is not operating under the direction of those in power. The editorial board mechanism effectively did that, but it isn’t the only way to accomplish the goal.
Floyd needs a solution that makes the governance changes needed while keeping the media operations independent, reliable and trustworthy.