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Richard Keeble
Top peace journalism award for Amy Goodman
Investigative journalist Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now!, a daily TV/radio news show airing on more than 700 stations worldwide, has won a major award for the show’s peace journalism. Goodman collected the Communication for Peace Award during the international conference of the World Association for Christian Communication in Cape Town, South Africa, 6-10 October 2008.

Amy Goodman draws her inspiration from independent thinkers, artists, activists, journalists and alternative media around the world – those who challenge the powers that be. She writes: ‘Every day, Democracy Now! breaks the sound barrier by broadcasting a rich, dissenting, diverse range of voices. This includes the powerful and the grassroots, the banned, the celebrated, the despised, marginalized and ignored. These are the voices of people fighting to make the world a better, more humane, just, peaceful, and more compassionate place.’

Goodman holds a degree in anthropology from Harvard University and began her journalism career as producer of the evening news show for community radio station WBAI, Pacifica Radio’s station in New York City. In 1991, she travelled to East Timor to report on the Indonesian occupation of that country. There, she and colleague Allan Nairn witnessed Indonesian soldiers gun down 270 East Timorese men, women and children during a memorial procession. Indonesian soldiers savagely beat both journalists, fracturing Nairn’s skull. Their documentary, Massacre: The Story of East Timor, later won numerous awards, including the Robert F. Kennedy Prize for International Reporting, the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Award, the Armstrong Award, and the Radio/Television News Directors Award.

Breaking the silence

Goodman believes the role of the media is to go to where the silence is and say something. ‘I think the media can build bridges in society between cultures and communities. But we need to hear people speaking for themselves. That breaks down bigotry and the stereotypes that fuel hatred. If you don't hear the voices of certain people, and you see them being demonized, it becomes easier to treat them as sub-human.’

In March 2004, Goodman obtained the international broadcast exclusive of the return of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from his imposed exile in the Central African Republic to Jamaica. Her coverage of the Haitian story scored more than 3.5 million hits on the web site of Democracy Now!, ultimately forcing the story into the mainstream press in what Goodman describes as ‘trickle up journalism’.

Since 2006, Goodman has been writing a weekly column Breaking the Sound Barrier for King Features Syndicate. She says her column’s focus is to ‘include voices so often excluded, people whose views the media mostly ignore, issues they distort and even ridicule’.

Goodman has published three New York Times best-sellers: The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them (2004) Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and The People who Fight Back (2006); and Standing up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times (2008), each co-authored with her brother, journalist David Goodman.
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