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Amy Goodman On Voter Turnout, Underreported Stories, and Independent Media

Journalist and "Democracy Now!" host Amy Goodman stopped by Link TV studios to discuss the significance of independent media and the roadblocks preventing many Americans from exercising their right to vote. 

 

 

Why don't Americans vote in great numbers?

When I got the call to host Democracy Now, which was first a radio show, before we went on public  television as well. I was in a safe house in Haiti and I was covering elections there, people who were running for office were being gunned down, people were afraid of being shot if they went to the polls, and yet the vast majority of Haitians voted.

In this country we face nothing like that adversity. Half the population doesn’t vote, or nearly half, at that time it was more than half, it is unacceptable in a democracy. Why is it that people don’t vote? That’s why I came back to the United States, to do the only daily election show in public broadcasting.

I never thought it was apathy. What were they doing on the ground in their communities? Did they feel there were obstacles in their way? Or they just didn’t feel there was a difference between the major party candidates? 

And then you have the voter ID laws that are popping up all over the country. These are all meant to challenge certain sectors of our population. Poorer people, older people, people of color—they’re the ones who are most affected and we’re talking about the disenfranchisement of millions of people, not to mention the people who’ve somehow interacted with the criminal justice system.

This affects millions of people. This all has to be challenged.

Media Could Be The Greatest Force For Peace

People don’t get to meet everyone in their lives, but in the media people get to meet people they wouldn’t normally meet.

You’re beginning to hear someone speak for themselves, someone you’ve never met before. There might be stereotypes and caricatures, but this conversation that you have with someone challenges those stereotypes because they’re as complex a human being, as anyone else is and I think it’s those stereotypes that  fuel hate groups, that makes war more possible, because you can so easily "other" someone. They’re not anything like that, if you’re not anything like that person. If you don’t know who that person is, suddenly you find common ground. And that common ground, 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’s wielded as a weapon of war.

Going Where the Silence Is

Going to where the silence is, is our motto. Often covering movements or people who are under reported or not reported at all is not actually silent; it’s just silent to the rest of the world.

We have a special job, there is a reason why our profession— journalism—is the only one explicitly protected by the U.S. constitution. Because we’re supposed to be the check and balance on power. That’s when we are challenging those who have power.

So often though, they’re the only ones that grab the mics [and] get the media attention. And there is the vast majority of people, who don’t get that attention. I mean, I think that’s part of the success of “Democracy Now!”

I see the media as the oxygen of democracy and we have to expand the open and independent airways so that we get the full diversity of opinion.
 

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