On October 28, 2021, INMA and Google News Initiative (GNI) awarded their Elevate Scholarship to 50 news media professionals around the world. This series features these impressive media professionals who are shaping our industry.
Shelley Cook’s goal is to help tell stories of diverse people. She’s doing that through The Winnipeg Free Press’ Reader Bridge Project, which she launched in early 2021. The project is designed to be more representative and inclusive in journalism and storytelling.
“Being an Indigenous writer, the Reader Bridge Project has allowed me to meet people and pitch stories of and for underserved and underrepresented communities that may have been overlooked or under-told in the past,” Cook said.
Cook is also responsible for a weekly column in the Winnipeg Free Press, which she said gives her a platform where she can share her work and incorporate more Indigenous voices and perspectives in media. She also created events to familiarise the community and media with one another.
“My role also sees me working and networking with various communities and community leaders,” Cook said. “I have initiated training lunch and learn sessions internally and am working to connect our newsroom with leaders and members of the Black, Indigenous, Filipino, and Muslim communities.”
Cook said she uses her own family stories in her column now and in her work with the Reader Bridge Project: “My role has also allowed me to build relationships and connections with others, and take part in learning and training opportunities that strengthen me and my work.”
Cook hopes other Indigenous writers will follow her path so that many different voices are being heard.
“I aspire to help reshape and diversify the landscape of media. Representation matters not only in the stories we tell but in our tones and understanding of various cultures and lived experiences.”