Award-winning journalist Amy Goodman says the U.S. needs to regain wisdom, take back media

Darren D'Altorio

Democracy Now! host calls the war in Iraq

As Amy Goodman approached the stage in the Kiva Friday afternoon, a man sprung up from the crowd, approached her and handed her a yellow rose. She smiled, walked back to her seat, placed the rose gently on her chair and headed back to the stage.

“The yellow rose represents honesty,” said Pete Lyman, a resident of Eaton Township in Lorain County, who gave her the rose. “Fuck TV news. I appreciate the truth. That is what Democracy Now! stands for.”

Democracy Now! is the worldwide, grassroots news program hosted by Goodman. Along with Democracy Now!, she is the author of three books, all co-written with her brother, independent journalist David Goodman. Her trip to Kent State was in support of her latest book, “Standing up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times.”

Goodman thanked the audience of about 150 for braving the rainy day and attending her presentation, saying she has wanted to come to Kent State for a long time.

She wasted no time with her words during her visit. She told stories about her life as a journalist in what she described as “moments that have shaped history.”

In a soft, composed voice, Goodman shared her experiences, ranging from the 2008 Republican National Convention to visiting the house of one of the most notorious slave owners in American history, which is now owned by Donald Rumsfeld.

Goodman had one common thread throughout her storytelling: her belief that news coverage in the country is distorted and absurd.

“I think this country needs wisdom,” Goodman said. “And you’re not going to get it from this small circle of pundits we see on all the networks, who know so little about so much, explaining the world to us and getting it so wrong.”

For Goodman, regaining wisdom in this country equates to the people taking back the media.

“The media are the most powerful institutions on earth,” she said. “They are more powerful than any bomb, more powerful than any missile … We need to take it back.”

According to the program handed out at the event, Goodman’s news coverage embraces the points of view that have been shunned, overlooked and excluded by the mainstream news media. Points of view like the former soldiers and generals of the U.S. armed forces who opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet were never interviewed about their respective positions on the issue, she said.

She criticized the coverage of the war in Iraq. She said journalists who think they are being noble by imbedding themselves on the front lines are doing the world an injustice by only portraying one side of the issue – the side with the trigger. She said a fair news media would put journalists in the homes of Iraqi people and victims of war all around the world.

Goodman’s talk wasn’t always heavy with political commentary. She intertwined humor and stories of hope, providing the audience with some comic relief and optimism in the midst of these serious issues.

Few students attended the event, but Yvette Coil, a member of the Kent State Anti-war Committee, which hosted her speech, said she wasn’t too concerned about that.

“There are a lot of students who are very aware of the issues,” Coil said. “The students who did attend will benefit from the experience and can pass the information on to friends.”

Jacquelyn Bleak, senior applied conflict management and political science major, was in attendance. She said the presentation offered a refreshing perspective on news coverage in America.

“Amy and Democracy Now! present something Americans don’t get from mainstream news media,” Bleak said. “It’s something we don’t get because major news corporations focus on their corporate interests, not the interest of the people.”

Labor activist and notorious civil rights lawyer Richard Olivito opened the event with a brief speech. He focused on freedom of speech and what it means for America in times like this.

“Political correctness has grown in the country,” he said. “Political correctness buries the truth.”

Olivito said he hopes to reverse the trend of political correctness and re-ignite the political spirit that once existed in the nation.

Contact College of Communication and Information reporter Darren D’Altorio at ddal[email protected].