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Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman

Born April 13, 1957 (1957-04-13) (age 52)
Bay Shore, New York
Show Democracy Now!
Station(s) over 800
Network(s) Pacifica Radio
Style Investigative journalism

Amy Goodman (born April 13, 1957) is an American broadcast journalist, syndicated columnist and author.

A 1984 graduate of Harvard University,[1] Goodman is best known as the principal host of Democracy Now!, a public radio/television/internet news program. She also attended the College of the Atlantic, in Bar Harbor, Maine.[2]

Coverage of the peace and human rights movements—and support of the independent media—are the hallmarks of her work. Michael Delli Carpini, dean of the Annenberg School for Communication, said, "She's not an editorialist. She sticks to the facts... She provides points of view that make you think, and she comes at it by saying: 'Who are we not hearing from in the traditional media?'"[3]

As an investigative journalist, she has received acclaim for exposés of human rights violations in East Timor and Nigeria. Goodman is the first journalist to receive the Right Livelihood Award.


Democracy Now!

Goodman had been news director of Pacifica Radio station WBAI-FM in New York City for over a decade when she co-founded Democracy Now! The War and Peace Report in 1996. Since then, Democracy Now! has been called "probably the most significant progressive news institution that has come around in some time" by professor and media critic Robert McChesney.[4]

In 2001, the show was temporarily pulled off the air, as a result of a conflict with a group of Pacifica Radio board members and Pacifica staff members and listeners. During that time, it moved to a converted firehouse from which it broadcast until November 13, 2009.[5] The new Democracy Now studio is located in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.[6]

Goodman believes that democracy depends on journalists who are able to educate their audience with context and depth and who are not beholden to corporate media ownership. For example, in 2009 for an audience at the Vancouver Public Library, she emphasized the importance of independent media:

"It's very important that we feel free to be able to speak in Canada, in the United States, because dissent is what will save us. We live in very dire times. Global warring, global warming, the global economic meltdown, the lack of health care in the United States — these are crises that need people other than those typical pundits we see on all the networks who know so little about so much, explaining the world to us and getting it so wrong.

"We need people who think outside the box. Think of that TV screen as the box, because when you have just that know-nothing punditocracy, with the standard eight- or nine-second sound byte, what are you going to get in that amount of time? You just get the status quo reinforced. If you say, 'Saddam Hussein was like Hitler', everyone knows every reference point. You've said it within a few seconds. You're ready for prime time.

"If you have something else to say, perhaps, like, "Officials of our government in the United States are guilty of war crimes, you can actually say that in less than eight seconds, but you sound a little crazy. You're marginalized, because you have to take a little time to explain: what are the Nuremberg Principles? What are the Geneva Conventions? What are war crimes? That takes more time. They say: 'It's not a political edit; it's just that you're not ready to concisely address the issue.' We need to go beyond the way the issues have been framed. We see where the status quo has got us; we can't afford this anymore."[7]

Goodman credits the program's success to the mainstream news makers who leave "a huge niche" for Democracy Now! "It's just the basic tenets of good journalism that instead of this small circle of pundits, you talk to people who live at the target end of the policy," she said. When the Bush Administration didn't find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, it "laid bare more than the Bush Administration, it laid bare media that act as a conveyor belt for the lies of the Administration. You know governments are going to lie, but not the media. So I think people started to seek out other forms of information."[4]

When President Bill Clinton called WBAI on Election Day, 2000,[8] for a quick get-out-the-vote message, Goodman and WBAI's Gonzalo Aburto challenged him for 28 minutes with questions about Leonard Peltier, racial profiling, the Iraq sanctions, Ralph Nader, the death penalty, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Clinton defended his administration's policies and charged Goodman with being "hostile, combative, and even disrespectful".[9]

Investigative journalism career

In 1991, covering the East Timor independence movement, Goodman and fellow journalist Allan Nairn were badly beaten by Indonesian soldiers after they witnessed a mass killing of Timorese demonstrators in what became known as the Dili Massacre.[10] She has speculated that the only thing that spared her the fate of the Australian-based journalists who were killed in East Timor in 1975 was an American passport; the United States was providing military support to the Indonesian army at the time. The US did not cut off military aid to Indonesia until 1993.

In 1998, Goodman and journalist Jeremy Scahill documented Chevron Corporation's role in a confrontation between the Nigerian Army and villagers who had seized oil rigs and other equipment belonging to oil corporations. Two villagers were shot and killed during the standoff.[11] On May 28, 1998, the company provided helicopter transport to the Nigerian Navy and Mobile Police (MOPOL) to their Parabe oil platform which had been occupied by villagers who accused the company of contaminating their land. Soon after landing, the Nigerian military shot and killed two of the protesters, Jola Ogungbeje and Aroleka Irowaninu, and wounded 11 others. Chevron spokesperson Sola Omole acknowledged that the company transported the troops, and that use of troops was at the request of Chevron's management. The documentary, "Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria's Oil Dictatorship", won the George Polk Award in 1998.

Arrest at 2008 Republican Convention

During the 2008 Republican National Convention, several of Goodman's colleagues from Democracy Now! were arrested and detained by police while reporting on an anti-war protest outside the RNC.[12] While trying to ascertain the status of her colleagues, Goodman herself was arrested and held, accused of obstructing a legal process and interfering with a peace officer,[13] while fellow Democracy Now! producers were held on charges of probable cause for riot.[14] The arrests of the producers were videotaped[15] and have been criticized as unlawful and a violation of the freedom of the press. Goodman and her colleagues were later released, but as of September 2008 they still face charges stemming from their arrests.[16] City Attorney John Choi has indicated that the charges will be dropped.[17]

"She's a little more confrontational, I think, than the typical reporter," said Fred Melo, reporter with the St.Paul Pioneer Press, after Goodman's arrest,[18] although video footage of her arrest show Goodman calmly and politely attempting to ask the officer about the status and safety of two journalists working with her who had just been arrested.[19]

Douglas border crossing incident

On November 25, 2009, Goodman was detained for upwards of 90 minutes at the Douglas border crossing into Canada while en route to a scheduled meeting at the Vancouver Public Library.[20] Canada Border Services agents grilled her on the proposed topics of a speech she planned to give that day in Vancouver to promote her book Breaking the Sound Barrier. The story was first reported by the Vancouver Media Co-op.

Ignoring her press credentials, the border guards asked her repeatedly about topics she might talk about in her speech. A border agent demanded to see Goodman's speaking notes, but Goodman said she had no formal notes and would be delivering a talk based on the columns in her Breaking the Sound Barrier anthology. "I generally talk quite extemporaneously, and when they said they needed to see my notes now, I had to figure out exactly what to do. So I brought out the book, and I did say I would be reading some columns,"[7] Goodman later said.

"They said: 'We want your speech. You don't just go to a speech, if in fact you're giving a speech, without notes.' "[7] In response to his demand for a detailed summary of her proposed talk, Goodman mentioned Tommy Douglas, the father of the Canadian national health care system, global warming, the global economic depression, and the wars of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan.[20] A customs guard carefully made notes of Goodman's proposed speaking topics and the information was entered into the Canadian government's computerized security file on her.

The agents, however, pressed her repeatedly — she told her listeners in a Nov. 30 Democracy Now! broadcast — to find out if she might be talking about the February 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.

"I really didn’t know what he was referring to. And he kept pushing. He was clearly incredulous. And at my surprise, he disbelieved me even further. He clearly did not think I was telling the truth. He kept pushing: 'You’re denying you’re talking about the Olympics?' I said, 'That wasn’t my plan for tonight.' "[20]

"I was completely surprised by what he was asking and did not know what he was getting at. I'm an anti-sports fan," she told a CBC Radio interviewer. "At Democracy Now, we don't cover sports much."[21]

Goodman was eventually permitted to enter Canada after the customs authorities took four photographs of her and stapled a "control document" into her passport demanding that she leave Canada within 48 hours.[21][22] The incident brought to light widespread unfavourable views about the Olympics, news of which the organizers had been trying assiduously to suppress. As MSNBC's Keith Olbermann commented: "If you‘re that desperate to prevent criticism of some Olympic games, you shouldn‘t detain a noted commentator and write her scripts for her."[23]

In the Democracy Now! broadcast where Goodman explained her detention at the border, she proposed to investigate "what was this obsession with the Canadian Olympics". Activist guest Chris Shaw, professor of ophthalmology at the University of British Columbia and a leading spokesperson for the No Games 2010 Coalition and 2010 Watch, non-violent groups opposed to bringing the Olympics to Vancouver, discussed the impact of the Olympic games and the government's conduct on the economy, environment and civil rights movement.[20] Shaw suggested that the various levels of government appear to believe that there is a policy of treating peaceful dissent as a major security threat, adding: "Right now the authorities here are terrified of protest. It has become the number one threat. And they just don’t want to see any embarrassment for the different levels of government. They don’t want to see it on the national news."[20]

Guest David Eby, executive director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, suggested that such heavy pressure on an independent journalist might be related to a climate of suppression of free speech orchestrated by the Olympics organizing committee (VANOC) and the governments of Vancouver, Whistler and British Columbia. Eby characterized the actions of the Canadian Border Services Agency as "inappropriate," telling Goodman: "The chilling effect goes across the full spectrum of anyone who may wish to report on or criticize the Olympic Games, to discourage them from engaging in such activities."[20]

Suggesting that the border detention might reflect official policy of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper or his cabinet minister Stockwell Day, Dave Zirin of the Huffington Post quotes Derrick O'Keefe, co-chair of the Canadian Peace Alliance, as saying: "It's pretty unlikely that the harassment of a well-known and respected journalist like Amy Goodman about whether she might be speaking about the Olympics was the initiative of one over-zealous, bad-apple Canadian border guard. This looks like a clear sign of the chill that the IOC and the Games' local corporate boosters want to put out against any potential dissent."[24]

Goodman commented on the incident, which also included agents downloading and searching her crew's laptop computer hard drives, during her Democracy Now! report of Nov. 30, 2009:

"I'm just concerned that this is not only a violation of freedom of the press; this is a violation of the public's right to know, because when journalists are afraid to come over, afraid that their computers will be gone through and that their notes will be read, which could compromise sources, journalists will not be able to do their jobs the way they should."[21]

"If journalists feel there are things they can’t report on, that they’ll be detained, arrested or questioned, that they’ll be interrogated, this is a threat to the free flow of information. And that’s the public’s loss; that’s democracy’s loss."[20] "Information," she said, "is the currency of a democracy."[25]


  • 2004 — The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them co-written with her brother, Mother Jones reporter David Goodman. ISBN 1-4013-0799-X
  • 2006 — Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People who Fight Back (also with David Goodman). She appeared on the Colbert Report on October 5, 2006 to promote the book. ISBN 1-4013-0293-9
  • 2008 — Standing up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times (also with David Goodman) details the capabilities of ordinary citizens to enact change. Was on the New York Times bestseller list. ISBN 1-4013-2288-3
  • 2009 — Breaking the Sound Barrier (with a preface by journalist Bill Moyers), an anthology of columns written for King Features Syndicate. In her first piece she wrote: "My column will include voices so often excluded, people whose views the media mostly ignore, issues they distort and even ridicule."[26] ISBN 1-9318-5999-X


In 2006, Goodman narrated the film One Bright Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern. Directed by Stephen Vittoria, the documentary chronicles the life and times of George McGovern, focusing on his failed 1972 bid for the presidency. The film features McGovern, Gloria Steinem, Gore Vidal, Warren Beatty, Howard Zinn, Ron Kovic, and Dick Gregory. The film won the Sarasota Film Festival's award for "Best Documentary Feature."


Amy Goodman speaking at Power To The Peaceful Festival, San Francisco 2004

Goodman has received dozens of awards for her work, including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and the George Polk Award. In 2001, she declined to accept the Overseas Press Club Award, in protest of the group's pledge not to ask questions of keynote speaker Ambassador Richard Holbrooke and because the OPC was honouring Indonesia for their improved treatment of journalists despite the fact that its forces had recently beaten and killed reporters in occupied East Timor.[27]

On October 1, 2008, Goodman was named as a recipient of the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, and often refers to it as the "Alternative Nobel Prize" — the first journalist to be so honored. The Right Livelihood Award Foundation cited her work in "developing an innovative model of truly independent grassroots political journalism that brings to millions of people the alternative voices that are often excluded by the mainstream media." The prize was awarded in the Swedish Parliament on December 8, 2008.[28]

On March 31, 2009, Goodman was the recipient (along with Glenn Greenwald) of the first Izzy Awards for independent media, named after journalist I. F. Stone. The award is presented by Ithaca College's Park Center for Independent Media.[29]

Personal life

Goodman describes herself as a secular Jew and the granddaughter of an Orthodox rabbi.[30] She has relatives who died in the Holocaust.[31]


  1. ^ Right Livelihood Award: 2008 - Amy Goodman
  2. ^ Alumni profiles, College of the Atlantic.
  3. ^ Tanya Barrientos, "She’s taking the watchdog to task", Philadelphia Inquirer, May 13, 2004
  4. ^ a b Amy Goodman's 'Empire'
  5. ^ { village voice > news > A year after 2000's Christmas Coup, has Pacifica decided to give WBAI back to its listeners. Jennifer Block tunes in. by Jennifer Block]
  6. ^ Andy Worthington Archive for November, 2009
  7. ^ a b c Audio of Amy Goodman's talk at Vancouver Public Library, Vancouver Media Co-op, November 27, 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-03.
  8. ^ Democracy Now! Exclusive Interview with President Bill Clinton, Democracy Now!, November 8, 2000. Retrieved 2009-09-17.
  9. ^ Bill Clinton Loses His Cool in Democracy Now! Interview on Everything But Monica, Democracy Now!, June 22, 2004. Retrieved 2009-09-17.
  10. ^ Massacre: The Story of East Timor, Democracy Now!, November 12, 1997. Retrieved 2009-09-17.
  11. ^ Drilling and Killing, Democracy Now!, July 11, 2003. Retrieved 2009-09-17.
  12. ^ "Amy Goodman, Others Detained Outside RNC". The Nation. September 1, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  13. ^ "Scenes from St. Paul -- Democracy Now's Amy Goodman arrested". San Francisco Chronicle. September 2, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  14. ^ "Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman arrested at RNC protest". Minnesota Public Radio. September 1, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  15. ^ "Amy Goodman's Arrest + Press Conference asked about arrest". September 1, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  16. ^ "Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar Released After Illegal Arrest at RNC". press release (Democracy Now!). September 1, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  17. ^ "No charges for reporters arrested in GOP protests". Associated Press. September 19, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-20. 
  18. ^ The Brian Lehrer Show - ~minute 46 of 51, WNYC, Friday, September 05, 2008,
  19. ^ Amy Goodman Arrested at RNC
  20. ^ a b c d e f g "Amy Goodman Detained at Canadian Border, Questioned About Speech…and 2010 Olympics", Democracy Now!, 30 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
  21. ^ a b c Kathryn Gretzinger, Interview with Amy Goodman, CBC Early Edition, 27 November 209. Retrieved 2009-12-03
  22. ^ Kathy Tomlinson, "US journalist grilled at Canada border crossing", CBC News, November 26, 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
  23. ^ "'Countdown with Keith Olbermann', November 30, 2009". MSNBC. 2009-12-01. Retrieved 2009-12-01. 
  24. ^ "Amy Goodman and Canada's Olympic Paranoia", Huffington Post blog, 27 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-03.
  25. ^ Josh Wingrove, "U.S. journalist says she was delayed at border, questioned about speech", Toronto Globe and Mail, November 26, 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-03.
  26. ^ "Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman To Write Weekly Newspaper Column", King Features press release, October 24, 2006. Retrieved 2009-12-02.
  27. ^ Pacifica Rejects Overseas Press Club Award, Democracy Now!, April 23, 1999. Retrieved 2009-09-17.
  28. ^ "2008 Right Livelihood Awards honour champions of independent journalism, peace-building and social justice" (press release from the Right Livelihood Award Foundation)
  29. ^ Glenn Greenwald And Amy Goodman Share Inaugural Izzy Award For Independent Media
  30. ^ Amy Goodman Remembers Her Grandmother, on the Democracy Now website.
  31. ^ Peace Correspondent: 'Democracy Now!' Host Amy Goodman Is Making Her Voice Heard on Iraq by Michael Powell, Washington Post, March 10, 2003

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Amy Goodman (born April 13, 1957) is an American broadcast journalist and author.


  • But for the media to name their coverage of the 2003 invasion of Iraq the same as what the Pentagon calls it—everyday seeing 'Operation Iraqi Freedom'—you have to ask: 'If this were state controlled media, how would it be any different?'
  • [The media] are using a national treasure--that's what the public airwaves are. And they have a responsibility to bring out the full diversity of opinion or lose their licenses.
  • In the meantime, it just makes it a little harder to smile. But so does the world.

The Exception to the Rulers written with David Goodman

  • Going to where the silence is. That is the responsibility of a journalist: giving a voice to those who have been forgotten, forsaken, and beaten down by the powerful.
  • We must build a trickle-up media that reflects the true character of this country and its people. A democratic media serving a democratic society.
  • We have a decision to make every hour of every day, and that is whether to represent the sword or the shield. Democracy now.

External links

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