When you have long abandoned any hope of getting valuable information from the corporate media, the independent radio/TV news hour DemocracyNow stands as a potent alternative, an uplifting beacon in this “breaking news” dominated mediascape. When you grew up watching the bland 8 o’clock news on public-owned French TV networks, this kind of listener-supported advertisement-free radio program engages you in a way mainstream media never has and never will. Especially if you are partial to the progressive and sadly overlooked side of American culture.
Hosted by investigative journalist Amy Goodman, and occasionally by Juan Gonzalez, the show features a daily mix of 3 or 4 stories that bring forward the voices of the silenced, the oppressed, the rarely heard, or more simply, the people around the world whose heroic actions and struggles unfold off the spotlight. On an off day, listening to Amy Goodman’s grainy tone and articulate diction can be empowering as you stare into your second coffee cup in the morning wondering how many more it will take before you’ll consider getting something done that day. Well, I’ve got to admit, I usually find myself caught up and reluctant to multitasking…
As part of a “Women who make America” series run by PBS/AOL filmmakers, Goodman discusses her career as an investigative journalist and host of a show that has grown into a major progressive media outlet broadcast on over 1,000 stations around the world (video in segments here). The story of how she stood up to an anthropology professor who questioned her intellectual credibility during her thesis defense is just remarkable. Check it out. Since her daring coverage of the US-backed Indonesian occupation of East Timor, when she and colleague Alan Nairn witnessed the military clampdown and suffered injuries in the process, Goodman has built up impressive journalism credentials. Whether she interviews the late Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, an Iraq war US veteran, ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, linguist/political critic Noam Chomsky, jazz musicians Charlie Haden and Randy Weston, or world citizens in war-torn countries, Goodman consistently embraces cultural diversity. This is caring, politically-engaged journalism at its best. No slick posturing on Goodman’s part. I really enjoy that big and small stories don’t seem to result from calculated efforts to prioritize news but from an unrelenting commitment to featuring voices that are usually ignored or played down in traditional media. Also, when Goodman gets to talk on the mainstream networks – the polar opposite of what Democracy Now stands for – she confronts her opponents unabashedly and exposes their prepackaged corporate bias.
Sure, Amy Goodman is not the only woman journalist who deserves the kind of accolades that I easily succumb to but in this age of media saturation, her passionate dedication is very inspiring and vital.