Amy Goodman, founder, host and executive producer of DemocracyNow!, was co-recipient of the inaugural Izzy Award for outstanding achievement in independent media. The accolade memorializes I.F. Stone (1907-1989), a titan of 20th century political commentary, about whom writer Nicholas Von Hoffman commented:
He could stand alone and stand apart and therefore stand for what he believed in.
That powerful quote applies equally to Amy Goodman. She has, like Stone had, much to tell and nothing to sell. Her audio and online programs depend upon contributions from non-commercial foundations and individuals from the audience. DemocracyNow! accepts no money from advertisers, corporate underwriters or governments.
Bill Moyers, in the forward to Goodman’s latest book, Breaking the Sound Barrier, writes that she is:
Willing to take on the powers that be to get at truth and justice, then spreading the word of those two indispensable gospels to the republic and the world beyond. Through her reporting, we hear from people who barely exist in news covered by the corporate-owned press.
Goodman is the journalist as uninvited guest.
Talking April 30 to a sold out audience at the Salt Spring Forum, Goodman lamented the dominance of money in politics and journalism. She warns the American experience will soon grow worse because of a recent Supreme Court ruling enabling corporate cash to flood the political marketplace without limit. Of course, British Columbia is about to experience that situation too.
BC Liberals are combining millions in taxpayer funds with major funding from business. Advertising, advertorials, editorials, op-eds and opinion columns will inundate the province to protect the multi-billion dollar shift of taxation from corporations to consumers. The parties who gain financially from imposition of HST will invest only a portion of their receipts buying coverage to dominate public discourse about the tax measure. As a result, consumers and taxpayers burdened by HST will actually pay for the campaign to continue that privilege.
Indoctrination has been going on since March 2009 and a well planned adverting campaign is beginning, along with coordinated press releases from the kennel of economic “experts” paid to convince citizens that the pain will be good for everyone in the long run. That is because whatever is good for big business is good for ordinary people, allegedly.
Whether it is imposing HST on consumers, eliminating corporate income taxes, privatizing public assets, stripping the gears of parliament or corrupting the judicial system, who speaks for ordinary citizens? Traditional media serves its owners and advertisers.
Tax exempt foundations of billionaires use ambitious people to sell the stories. Money greases the wheels and those wheels turn to reward the people at the controls. Corrupt politicians are a dime a dozen, changed like dirty socks by agents paid to keep ready a trunk full of fresh ones.
Who speaks for ordinary citizens? Plainly, it is the journalistic outliers: the independents, the online analysts, the bloggers. The people with journalistic courage and persistence, willing to confront conventional wisdom and official deception. In Amy Goodman’s words,
Real journalism is telling a story somebody doesn’t want told. Anything else is advertising.
Not many reporters today agree with Ms. Goodman because, under the common stenographic model, journalism is simply reporting words that important people want repeated. The words don’t need to be analyzed or tested, as long as they fit the corporate media’s agenda.
Pay attention to Democracy Now! and you will gain a new perspective on international news. What will you miss by ignoring the mainstream media? Here is an example. It was breaking news that interrupted CBC’s regular program. Neil Macdonald, CBC’s 20-year veteran of international reporting showed that he is not a journalist, he is a partisan.
Neil Macdonald, by phone, from Washington.
It’s huge. This is remarkable. It’s almost as if a war is over. . . [Obama] ended the war, at least symbolically. This is a story of great intrigue and mystery… just the sort of story the American audience loves…
It has a great ending… The Pakistanis, they are being credited for helping us with this…”