Sahan Journal is a digital-first news operation launched in August of 2019 by Somali-born American journalist Mukhtar Ibrahim a former reporter and producer at Minnesota Public Radio. Minnesota Public Radio was the first “investor” in this start-up.
At the onset of Covid-19 in Minnesota, Sahan Journal’s staff of seven, plus three Report for America journalists, began publishing essential pandemic coverage in three languages: Hmong, Somali, and Spanish, reflecting the three largest immigrant groups in the state. Over the summer of 2020, as the Twin Cities were rocked by civic unrest in protest of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, Sahan Journal offered a distinct lens on new coalitions and social change activism by immigrants and refugees in support of Black Lives Matter. Young people, born in the United States, whose immigrant parents and grandparents would never have become active for civil rights, emerged and joined the forefront of the movement, claiming their own identities as Black Americans.
Sahan Journal has established itself as a meaningful new entry into the Minnesota media scene, and was named Best Web site by the alt weekly newspaper, City Pages in 2020, which wrote: “In a blindingly white industry, the essentiality of a Sahan Journal is even more pronounced. And, with an assemblage of diverse bylines, the online paper is already churning out important stories on underrepresented communities while keeping the mainstream press honest.”
Sahan Journal operates beats on health and education and has offered deep local coverage of Minneapolis primaries, where 5th District Congresswoman Ilhan Omar faced a significant challenge, and where immigrant candidates unseated longtime Minnesota politicians.
In its first year, Sahan Journal has proven the concept that newsrooms led by BIPOC journalists will achieve a new journalism, and will draw young, diverse, engaged news readers. Issues difficult to face in cultural communities, such as teen addiction, are given their due, and unheard voices are amplified.