Sep. 29, 2017 was an exciting day for many of renowned journalist Amy Goodman’s listeners in Manitoba. The host of the “Democracy Now!”radio program was in Winnipeg, giving an inspiring but possibly somewhat generic speech to a large crowd of people at Knox United Church.
Enthusiasm was evident early in the evening as hundreds of people gathered at the church to hear the well-know activist. However, some audience members might have wished for more efficient planning on the organizers’ part as they had to wait first for a book signing to finish and then listen to a series of speeches, including a rather lengthy explanation of Indigenous beliefs from a local First Nations leader.
Finally, the person that most audience members had come to hear took the stage and gave an inspiring speech describing her work as “going to where the silence is.” Her job as an independent journalist working outside the world of corporate media, she said, is to challenge the standard stories and to get the stories that standard media outlets rarely tell.
For example, she said, media outlets regularly cover the devastation that hurricanes bring, but they rarely mention climate change, just as they fail to challenge the American president on the government’s involvement in war.
Similarly, the media rarely tells the story of how weapons that were once used in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan have now made their way into the hands of the American police, where they become part of an increasingly militarized force.
Amy Goodman is known for standing up for the marginalized, and she spoke at length about the role of independent media in allowing people to tell their own stories. To illustrate her points, she talked about some of her work with the Dakota Access pipeline and the injustices related to the government’s decision to run the pipeline through Indigenous land rather than other areas.
“Media is essential to the functioning of a democracy,” Amy Goodman said in a talk that received a standing ovation from the audience. Still, some listeners might have been disappointed that a journalist of Amy Goodman’s stature would not include any local illustrations to help connect her ideas with concrete campaigns to consider.
Despite the limitations of the speech, the audience seemed satisfied, and the speaker shared many thought-provoking ideas. If she inspired even a few listeners to take action in their own communities, she did her job well.