As part of Pitzer College Student Senate’s Mindful of the Future speaker series, Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program airing on over 1,400 television and radio stations worldwide, spoke to a crowd of over 300 at Pitzer's George C.S. Benson Auditorium yesterday afternoon.
Pitzer Interim President Thomas Poon introduced Goodman, referring to her talk as an extension of the college’s “53-year tradition of activism and innovation.”
The recipient of numerous awards—including the Thomas Merton Award in 2004, an Izzy Award in 2009, and the Gandhi Peace Award in 2012—Goodman centered her lecture on her critique of corporate media outlets, such as ABC, CBS, and NBC.
Goodman lambasted major news outlets for not granting equitable air time in 2003 to those who were opposed to the Iraq War. She cited a study conducted by the nonprofit media organization, Fair & Accuracy in Reporting, which found that in a span of two weeks in early 2003, only three out of the 393 on-camera sources on the four major nightly news programs discussing the Iraq War identified with organized protests or anti-war groups. Goodman went on to criticize corporate media’s reluctance to scrutinize claims of Saddam Hussein possessing weapons of mass destruction, claims that later turned out to be false.
“Lies take lives,” said Goodman. “It’s our responsibility to take media back.”
Goodman went on to celebrate whistleblowers Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden.
Corporate media’s coverage of climate change was also addressed by Goodman, who felt that it has been underwhelming, to say the least. For one, Goodman believes that TV meteorologists should begin addressing climate change as opposed to “just flashing the words ‘Extreme Weather’ without any explanation.” Goodman also criticized the major news networks for their lackluster coverage of last year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP 21, held in Paris.
“All the journalists that came to report on the horrible Paris terrorist attacks headed back to the airport even though the climate talks were only a week away,” she said.
As an alternative to corporate media, Goodman championed the continued success of Democracy Now! and its public radio affiliates. For Goodman, independent media “allows people to speak for themselves, from their own experience.” The point is not to agree with these viewpoints, but to instead “expand the debate.” Goodman boasted that some of her broadcasts’ success are doing just that. When Honduran environmental activist and indigenous leader Berta Cáceres was gunned down earlier this year, Democracy Now! broadcasted an entire speech by Cáceres during their daily broadcast. According to Goodman, the clip ended up being one of the most viewed stories ever for Democracy Now!.
“There is an incredible hunger for independent voices all across the world,” she noted.
It is because of this type of reporting that Goodman ultimately believes that “media can be the greatest instrument for peace in the world….Americans are compassionate people, and if they were able to see what is really going on, they would say ‘no.’”
Goodman along with her colleague, investigative journalist Dennis Moynihan, is currently on a 100-city tour across the country in promotion of her latest book, Democracy Now!: Twenty Years Covering the Movements Changing America. More than 70 books were sold outside the auditorium, almost all of which were signed by Goodman following her talk.