By Marivir R. Montebon
At the end of her powerful speech, Amy Goodman encouraged us to buy her book Democracy Now! as a fitting gift for Mother’s Day. Indeed, it is, in order to teach the young bravery, compassion, and taking no-nonsense these days.
New York City – Mainstream media is a misnomer. Media covers power, not covers FOR power. Media is the 4th state, not FOR the state.
Listening to international journalist Amy Goodman for a good 40 minutes was inspiring enough to fuel me as writer. Sweet but straight to the point, the petite Goodman spoke before writers at the 2nd Annual Conference of the Metro New York Labor Communications Council this week at the 1199 SEIU penthouse on Mid-Manhattan. She was simply mind-blowing.
Her message was tough and true, and certainly what journalists must confront in these troubled times. Goodman, the host and executive producer of Democracy Now! was introduced by her co-host Juan Gonzales. Early in her speech, she said it was a misnomer call the giant news organizations as the “mainstream media”.
“They do not represent the mainstream society,” she said in her acceptance speech as the Labor Communication Council’s 2017 Labor Communicator Award.
“Media covers power, not covers for power. Media is the 4th state, not for the state. Media has to cover the silenced majority. That is why we have to take media back to the mainstream (of society),” she said in a certain and sweet manner.
The standoff on Standing Rock between police and the Sioux tribe against the Dakota Access Pipelines was a huge chunk of Goodman’s speech to make a case on covering for the silenced majority. It happened during the election campaign of 2016, and she lamented how not a single media personality had asked the electoral wannabes during their debates on their stance of the Dakota pipeline.
She said was a case of the ‘mainstream media’ refusing to touch on life and death issues in the US.
Goodman’s Democracy Now! is a 21-year-old independent TV and radio broadcasting to more than 1400 public television and radio stations in the US, covering what she said are “life and death, war and peace issues of America.” It is so far the largest media collaboration not only in the US, about also globally.
She cited issues on immigrant rights and climate change as needing voices. Goodman said that if for once the media spotlight is given the right direction on covering for the raging Dakota Access Pipeline or the breaking of families due to deportations, media can help make a change in policy decision that would mean life to American citizens.
“Anything less than that, media is doing a disservice to our democracy.”
Democracy Now! began its program in an old firehouse on La Fayette which the Manhattan Neighborhood News Network had provided for in 1996. “We were the first to do what is now called podcast, and once we were on TV we just took off,” she said.
In her book, Democracy Now! Goodman wrote, “That’s how we started: giving voice to the grassroots.” She added that covering for the silenced majority was not without risk. The local judge in Dakota had issued an arrest warrant, together with many other native Americans who resisted the Dakota Access Pipeline project.
Goodman said that the growing resistance against the project, along with the extent of media coverage of that movement has swayed the decision to the favor of the people. “Giving voice to the resistance is critical. It creates massive response from the community from the not-your-typical activists, who want to protect their people. Hence, despite the harassments, the resistance won.”
Meanwhile at the panel facilitated by Monica Mohapatra, on workers in the Trump era: Women’s Voices in the resistance, Sarah Jaffe, writer for Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt, said there was a need for people to encourage critical reading. “Critical but not cynical,” she emphasized.
For Premilla Nadasen, writer for Household Workers Unite: The Untold Story of African American Women Who Built a Movement, it was important to look at the working class as “around us” and not just organized labor. It is important to “dig deep” into facts, at the time of the deluge of fake news, she said.