Sahan Journal is a nonprofit digital news organization that engages diverse communities with its journalism and builds racial equity in Minnesota. It has traced an extraordinary trajectory since its launch in August 2019. At its core, Sahan Journal reflects the reality of Minnesota’s changing and emerging communities, offering responsive journalism for immigrants, communities of color, and cultural groups that will soon constitute a majority population in the state.
Sahan Journal is in a unique position in Minnesota to cultivate and engage people of color — in news consumption, civic engagement, and public life. Currently, people of color make up 24 percent of Minnesota’s population, up from just 17 percent a decade ago. The state demographer estimates that in 2030, 30 percent of working-aged people in the Twin Cities metro will be people of color.
Sahan Journal has no paywall. Its goal is to remove barriers for participation and create a space so that Minnesotans of color have access to the information they need to be their own best advocates.
Since its founding, Sahan Journal has emerged as an innovator in the field of digital nonprofit journalism, with strong community support and a young, diverse readership. The eight-person newsroom constantly produces stories that shed light on the lives and experiences of Minnesota’s communities of color. Sahan is fueling a tremendous hunger for equitable and consistent coverage of populations that are consistently overlooked or covered with a biased narrative by the mainstream media.
Sahan Journal’s journalism is changing the news ecosystem in Minnesota and beyond. We are raising the bar for coverage of communities of color, not as fringe players in a majority white state, but as the soon-to-be majority citizens who are revitalizing rural towns, and playing a major role in local politics, economy, and culture.”
Mukhtar Ibrahim, Founding Executive Director & Editor of Sahan Journal
Mukhtar is the founding director and editor of Sahan Journal. Mukhtar is among the first of his generation’s professional, accomplished journalists of Somali background in Minnesota and in the country. He earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota and a graduate degree in investigative and data journalism from Columbia University. Prior to launching Sahan Journal in 2019, Mukhtar worked as a staff writer for the Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio News. He has also written for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Al Jazeera English, BuzzFeed News and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. He was a recipient of the prestigious leadership fellowship from the St. Paul-based Bush Foundation (2016), a “Great Immigrant” award from the Carnegie Corporation of New York (2019), Islamic Resource Group’s “Building Bridges Award in Media” (2019),Twin Cities Business Magazine’s 100 People to Know (2020), recognized as the Institute for Nonprofit News ‘Emerging Leader’ (2021), and will be presented with Columbia Journalism School First Decade Award for 2022, in recognition of his contribution to the profession. Mukhtar’s personal and professional distinction are accompanied by his large social media following, his ambition and strategic talents, his extremely wide and diverse networks and his standing as a thought leader in journalism. Born in Somalia, Mukhtar spent his childhood in Ethiopia and Kenya and has lived his adult life in Minnesota. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and three daughters.
Dawn’s career has focused on reducing barriers to information, access to essential services, and cultural and emotional enrichment through Twin Cities nonprofits. She joined Sahan in 2021 after completing a six-year philanthropic campaign with Minnesota Public Radio / American Public Media to launch content verticals focused on water, mental health, early child brain development, as well the award-winning journalism and innovation centers, APM Reports (In the Dark), APM Research Lab, and Glen Nelson Center. In addition to MPR/APM, Dawn coordinated efforts to generate more than $130M for bricks-and-mortar campaigns including Open Book, a unique book and literary arts center, the Cesar Pelli -designed Minneapolis Central Library, and the Friends School of Minnesota. She has led annual and capital development, volunteer and board support, and major events planning for the Walker Art Center, non-profit publisher Milkweed Editions, Friends of the Minneapolis Public Library, and the Quaker-based Friends School of Minnesota.
As a writer, Michael spent ten-odd years contributing to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, often writing about homes and gardens—although often not the beautiful homes and stately gardens of the glossy shelter press. Instead, he has reported home features about the science and culture involved in food gardening: for example, the retired gardener planting West African seeds on the land where her family had once been enslaved (and in the Louisiana town where a white riot ended Reconstruction). Going indoors, Michael has written about the way different people express their identity at home: young adults with autism; a self-governing community of previously unhoused people; parents overwhelmed by all the art their kids bring home from school, etc. When curiosity has gotten the better of him, Michael has contributed science-driven reporting in short hits for NewYorker.com and longer features for Consumer Reports and Politico Magazine. As an editor, Michael has helped lead coverage of local arts, food, and news at the alt-weekly City Pages and later at Minneapolis St.Paul Magazine. Michael has moonlighted as an adjunct assistant professor in the English department at the University of Minnesota. There, he teaches editing skills to students looking to find a future in publishing and journalism — or at least a deeper appreciation for the en dash.
Sally Waterman is Sahan Journal’s director of advertising and sponsorship. She has worked in radio and print sales and in digital sales since the early 2000s, at major Minnesota news organizations as well as early internet pioneers like AOL. In 2007, Sally helped launch MinnPost, one of the first nonprofit digital news organizations in the state and the nation. Her work predates most of what we now recognize as the digital economy and helped shape the nonprofit news ecosystem we now inhabit. Sally joined Sahan Journal in March 2021.
Sahan Journal has shown us how the narrative can change if more newsrooms centered the perspectives and experiences of immigrants and BIPOC communities. It’s demonstrating every day what caring, equitable and hard-hitting journalism can look like."