Journalist, Host of Democracy Now! : b. 1957
Amy Goodman has the perfect answer when asked who she represents: “Democracy Now.” As host of the only national radio/TV news show free of all corporate underwriting, she is able to present a range of independent voices not often heard on the airwaves. “Dissent,” she explains, “is what makes this country healthy.”
Goodman grew up on Long Island, the descendant of Hasidic rabbis and the daughter of radical parents. After graduating from Harvard in 1984 with a degree in anthropology, she spent 10 years as producer of the evening news show at WBAI, Pacifica Radio’s station in New York City. Democracy Now!, which began in 1996, now airs on more than 225 stations across North America.
The title of the 2004 book Goodman wrote with her brother David, The Exception to the Rulers, clearly defines her expectation for media. “The role of reporters,” she says, “is to go to where the silence is and say something.” For going to places like East Timor, Nigeria, Peru, and Haiti to report on stories ignored by the mainstream media, often as considerable risk, she has won many honors, including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism, George Polk, and Overseas Press Club awards.
“She begins broadcasting at 7 a.m., and works until near midnight,” a reporter wrote in the Washington Post. Her fellow journalist Danny Schechter has said about her, “She works hard and when she's not working, she works harder. She is earnest to a fault, with little patience for folks who may have a more nuanced stance on certain issues than she does. But she is informed, committed, passionate, thorough and very uncompromising.” Goodman is, Schechter says, “in a class of her own.”