Born to social activist parents in 1957, Amy Goodman is a tireless and courageous investigative journalist who has dedicated her life to promoting independent media, strengthening peace and justice by vigorously upholding our First Amendment rights. She has co-authored six bestselling books, some with her brother, David Goodman, who is also a journalist.
Goodman’s goal as a fiercely independent journalist has been to go where the silences are and tell stories from the perspectives of those most affected. To that end, in 1996, she co-founded Democracy Now, an hour long independent news hour airing on public radio, television and the internet.
Her unflagging commitment to free speech sometimes means her contribution goes beyond telling the story; her coverage has helped defend the enterprise of journalism itself. After Goodman was arrested covering the 2008 Republican National Convention, her civil suit against the Minneapolis Police and the Secret Service resulted in the city’s agreement to train officers in the First Amendment rights of the press and the public. In 2016, after Goodman’s timely and raw footage documenting the standoff between Water Protectors and Dakota Access contractors went viral, the state brought criminal charges against her in an attempt to warn journalists away from the story. Soon, though, her coverage was airing on major networks, the charges were dismissed, and her independent reporting galvanized international support for the demonstrations at Standing Rock.
Goodman’s work reminds us that grassroots journalism does more than produce knowledge; it is a step in the peace process: “[When] you’re hearing someone speak from their own experience, it challenges the bigotry, the stereotypes, the caricatures that fuel these hate groups. … You begin to understand where they are coming from. That understanding is the beginning of peace. I think the media can be the greatest force for peace on earth. Instead, all too often, it is wielded as a weapon of war, which is why we have to take it back.”
Here are some ways to integrate Amy Goodman’s courage and tenacity with your own.
To Name This Day:
Making Lives Better: Goodman encourages all of us to consider how much power we have to make others’ lives better: “Whether we are journalists or farmers, whether we’re doctors, nurses, librarians, whether we are artists, whether we’re employed or unemployed, we have a decision to make every hour of every day — and that is whether to represent the sword or the shield.”
Reflect on a time when you were a shield, defending a person, a community, or an idea. What might have happened if you had not been a shield? What gave you the strength to stand up for what you felt was right?
A Huge Table: Goodman uses this evocative metaphor as the standard for media: "I see the media as a huge kitchen table that stretches across the globe, that we all sit around and debate and discuss the most important issues of the day — war and peace, life and death — and anything less than that is a disservice to a democratic society."
Draw a table on a sheet of paper, and then draw some dishes on the table. Name the dishes according to the issues you read about and see most frequently on the news. What issues are missing? What can you do to put these issues on the table?
Goodman’s gutsy reporting has brought attention to injustices all over the world. Here is her 2016 broadcast on the Water Protectors at Standing Rock: