PEORIA -- The queen of independent media, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, spoke to a Bradley University audience on Oct. 30 about the work of real journalists, as opposed to "media personalities" who give out the news for the corporate media.
Goodman told of being beaten and arrested by St. Paul, Minnesota police as she and her team covered demonstrations at the Republican convention in 2008. She sued and later won a six figure settlement.
"We've got to get out and get into the streets," she said, because that's where the real stories are. "Democracy is a messy thing. It's our job to capture it all."
After her arrest, the St. Paul police offered to let her cover the street demonstrations as an embedded reporter, she said. She refused.
The embedding process has brought the media to an all time low," she said. "The Pentagon calls it a success, which is why it's a failure," in Iraq and Afghanistan, as it fails to bring to the public the brutal images and realities of war.
She warned of the press becoming embedded in the corporations, and said the media should be criticizing them, and covering their power. "This is the fourth estate, not 'for the estate.'"
She also warned against the militarization of the police since the 9-11 attacks, and recalled how police attacked the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators.
Her talk stood in opposition to mainstream media figure Joe Klein who spoke at Bradley recently, and told how he was embedded with the military and praised it.
If Klein avoided the controversial topics of the day, Goodman plunged into them with stories she has covered, such as the execution of Troy Davis, an apparently innocent man sent to his death last year by Georgia and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, despite pleas from many prominent figures that his guilt was in doubt.
Now the state of California has a referendum on the ballot in November to end the death penalty there, she said. The movement to end the death penalty is just one of many movements for social justice and change that the media should be following, she said.
Real journalists should be talking to grass roots and movement people, to reveal their humanity and to dispel prejudice and stereotypes so they cannot be demonized, she said.
She defined the corporate media personalities as "the small circle of pundits who know so little about so much, explaining the world to us and get it wrong."
Regarding the Occupy Wall Street movement, she said, the corporate media ignored it for a week, then said "what do they want," while not realizing that the movement had coined "the most successful slogan in U.S. history, 'we are the 99 percent.' "
"Whether you agree with it or not, you know what it means," she said.
On climate change, a subject not discussed by Klein or the presidental candidates, she said people in the environmental movement are not a "fringe minority" or a "silent majority" but instead are a growing majority silenced by the corporate media.
"i want to change the landscape of what is acceptable in the media," she said."The media should be a huge kitchen table stretched around the globe to discuss the big issues, war and peace."
"If you're involved with social change, you help to build the future," she said.
-- Elaine Hopkins