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Democracy Now! teams bring world into our homes

by Kalamalama staff

Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman began her career in community radio in 1985 at Pacifica Radio’s New York Station, WBAI. She produced WBAI’s evening news for 10 years.

In 1990 and 1991, Goodman traveled to East Timor to report on the U.S.-backed Indonesian occupation of East Timor. There, she and colleague Allan Nairn witnessed Indonesian soldiers gun down 270 East Timorese. Indonesian soldiers beat them, fracturing Nairn’s skull. Their documentary, Massacre: The Story of East Timor won numerous awards.

The Indonesian military banned Goodman and Nairn from returning to the country, and arrested them in 1994 as they attempted entry. In 1999, Goodman was deported as she attempted to cover the referendum in which East Timorese voted overwhelmingly for independence.

In May of 2002, Democracy Now! sent Goodman back to East Timor to cover the founding of the new nation. The five-day series, “From Annihilation to a New Nation,” was the most comprehensive coverage of East Timor’s transition to independence broadcast in the United States.

In 1998, Goodman and producer Jeremy Scahill went to Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, to investigate the activities of U.S. oil companies in the Niger Delta. The radio documentary “Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria’s Oil Dictatorship” exposed Chevron’s role in the killing of two Nigerian villagers who were protesting yet another oil spill in their community. The documentary won the 1998 George Polk Award.

The Democracy Now! team headed to Seattle in November 1999 for an eight-day special on “The Battle of Seattle,” documenting the action in the streets and in the suites, and the explosion of anti-corporate, anti-globalization activism onto the world stage.

On Election Day 2000, Goodman and WBAI’s Gonzalo Aburto conducted a memorable half-hour interview with then-President Bill Clinton. The two asked hard-hitting questions the president wasn’t used to hearing. By the end, Clinton called Goodman “hostile,” “combative,” and “disrespectful.” Goodman said she was just doing her job.

In late August 2001, Democracy Now! senior producer Kris Abrams traveled to Durban, South Africa to cover the United Nations World Conference On Racism. With the U.S. corporate media making little or no mention of the historic summit, Democracy Now! broadcast a week of in-depth coverage; with the final broadcast in the series interrupted by the attack on the World Trade Center Sept. 11, 2001. Shortly after the attack, Democracy Now! began broadcasting simultaneously on radio and television every weekday.

When the U.S. began bombing Afghanistan, the broadcast expanded to two hours, as it has now with the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Democracy Now! became an independent nonprofit organization in June 2002. Today it is produced in New York's Chinatown, just blocks from where the World Trade Center towers once stood.

Current co-host Juan Gonzalez has been a columnist at the New York Daily News since 1988. He has won numerous awards for investigative reporting, including the George Polk Award in 1998, and he was recently elected president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Gonzalez’ most recent book—Fallout: The Environmental Consequences of the World Trade Center Collapse—documents cover-ups by Environmental Protection Agency and other government officials about health hazards at Ground Zero in New York.






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