Celebrated journalist shares her experiences
MIDDLEBURY — Journalist Amy Goodman brought stories from her on-the-ground reporting to Middebury College this past Wednesday, April 26, delivering a message of hope and faith in independent news media.
The founder and anchor of the radio show and podcast “Democracy Now!” spoke to an almost-full McCullough Center about her 20 years in the field, recounting tales from her new book, released Wednesday, Democracy Now!: 20 Years Covering the Movements Changing America.
Goodman encouraged the audience to subscribe (literally and figuratively) to the endeavors of independently sourced news media.
Through accounts of her in-depth coverage of the death penalty, the Occupy movement, climate summits and the Dakota Access Pipeline, she made the case that “Democracy Now!” captures stories that large news outlets miss. The show accomplishes this, she says, by giving the “silenced majority” a voice.
“It excites me,” she said, referring to her suggestion that college students read and listen to independent media, “that you’re going to discover a new universe of media, with road signs to all different places, where you can learn about the world that I really think represents the main stream of this country.”
Goodman began her speech with a zoom lens focused on the four executions that took place this week in Arkansas. She recounted her experience covering the execution of Troy Anthony Davis, who was convicted for killing a police officer but maintained his innocence, even in his last words. “It’s important to know our history. It is no joke,” she warned the audience.
From there, she took the crowd to South Africa, where she covered the United Nations Climate Conference in 2011. There, Anjali Appadurai, a student from the College of the Atlantic, gave a succinct and forceful speech, demanding that the UN “get it done.”
Goodman also recounted her time covering the Occupy Wall Street movement, when protestors invaded Zuccotti Park in New York City’s financial district to raise awareness about economic inequality.
“Yes, ultimately after months, the police went after the encampments,” she said. “You might say, ‘See? The whole thing fizzled out, what was it worth?’ Oh, you’ve made a serious mistake. It changed everything. Think about it. When you say, ‘one percent’ and ‘99 percent,’ people don’t think you’re talking about milk. Occupy occupied the language, and when you change the language, you change the world.”
While covering the Dakota Access Pipeline story, Goodman witnessed first-hand the bulldozers destroying sacred burial sites, and dogs that were unleashed on Native Americans who stood their ground.
“People don’t realize the bravery of these moments,” she said. “Immediately, as I saw this, I thought about March 16, 2003, in Gaza. A college student named Rachel Corrie who stood in front of an American bulldozer made by Caterpillar used by the Israeli military…she just got chewed up by the bulldozer moving the earth. That’s what I thought about when I saw these women and children standing in front of these bulldozers.”
With a commitment to covering international events, Goodman and her co-anchor, Juan González, have the freedom to position themselves wherever news is taking place, and cover it however they choose.
“Democracy Now!” is funded entirely by listeners, viewers and foundations–the organization does not accept advertisers, government funding or corporate underwriting.
And people have been listening. The show has over one million likes on Facebook, and Goodman has won a long list of awards for her work, including the Gandhi Peace Award and the I.F. Stone Lifetime Achievement Award from Harvard University.
Goodman ended her speech by reminding the audience of Hans and Sophie Scholl, siblings who worked with their professor to form the White Rose Collective during World War II. The resulting group distributed informational pamphlets about Nazi atrocities in the streets, schoolyards and marketplaces of Germany — even in the face of extreme danger. Arrested by the Nazis, the siblings and their professor were beheaded.
“That philosophy, that model, should be the Hippocratic oath of the media today, and the Hippocratic oath of us all today,” she said. “We will not be silent.”
When asked after her talk what she hopes her audience discovers when listening to her show, Goodman said she wants listeners to get “a sense of how people organize together; how they hold those in power accountable; the beauty, the lyricism, the poetry of their voices talking about reality on the ground and sharing it with the world,” she said. “That’s what will save us: People united in very different experiences, but appreciating each others’ differences.”
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