Democracy Now Is Coming to Town
Confronting the Censorship of Public Radio
By Michael I. Niman ArtVoice
Listen to the radio in
This is the new Orwellian reality as presented on National
Public Radio. This jobless boom is
fueled, according to NPR’s economic punditry, by “President Bush’s tax
cut.” According to Harper’s
magazine, however, that cut will amount to less than $100 for the poorest 88% of
Americans – with the average tax cut in that group being around four dollars.
Now, I can party pretty hard with my four bucks – but my pint of stout ain’t
going to jumpstart anyone’s economy. No
doubt, the folks in the nation’s top 12% income bracket might be partying a
bit harder – but the notion of their excesses somehow raising the rest of us
up, as we grovel for the opportunities to polish their Lexuses (or is that Lexi?),
is the makings of Reaganomics, or what George Bush senior once called “Voodoo
economics.” The Reagan “trickle
down” came more as a stream of urine – and
Listeners tuning into
Hitting the Lottery at The
If you worship at the Church of Warren Buffet; if you have millions riding on the stock market; if you’re worried about labor expenses at your footwear factory; if you want to know about how to use offshore corporations to avoid paying your share of US taxes; or if you’re planning on hitting the lottery and need a pre-winning investment plan (I didn’t make this last one up – it came right off of NPR) – Buffalo’s airwaves have a show for you.
If you’re a disabled welfare recipient facing termination under the new draconian “welfare reform” rules; if you’re a freshly downsized machinist worried about making your next mortgage payment on your new Wal Mart salary; if you have no health insurance and you’re wondering how to pay for prescription drugs without losing your home; if you’re concerned that toxic fumes in your workplace might slowly be killing you; of if you just plain want to think critically about the world around you – Buffalo radio and television outlets have little to offer.
To truly understand the problem, we need to revisit the Carnegie
Commission’s original mandate for public broadcasting in
Public broadcasting, the argument went, was needed to counter the commercial domination of the public airwaves – in essence preserving an electronic ghetto where news and views that countered the prevailing corporate winds would be herded.
As the FCC abandoned its mandate to assure that the public airwaves (meaning all broadcast airwaves) would be used in the public interest, this smattering of noncommercial radio and TV stations became increasingly more important in maintaining a democratic political dialog in the presence of a corporate dominated media.
Haig Back from the Crypt
Now fast forward to today and zero in on
There is an alternative in the form of cutting edge critical news programs,
the most notable of which is Pacifica Radio’s “Democracy Now.”
Hosted by award winning journalist, Amy Goodman, Democracy Now is
currently heard on public radio stations in over 150 American cities – but not
Over the years, people made contingent pledges to both WBFO and WNED,
promising to support the airing of Democracy Now. The response from both
stations has been a consistent No! – No
Democracy Now. Instead, they
continue to waste airtime running the same politically loaded and ethically
bankrupt investor oriented programs on both stations.
of View Censorship
The latest attempt to bring Democracy Now to
This argument against “point of view journalism” seems to be at the heart of WNYPBA’s rhetorical argument rationalizing their continued censorship of Amy Goodman. Invoking this catch phrase would seem to lend an air of academic credibility to an otherwise embarrassing policy. All journalism, however, encompasses a point of view, or various points of view – with the more propagandistic pieces attempting to hide the author’s bias.
Business Week magazine, ironically, uses this same term to describe themselves, and hence, the investor-oriented programming that dominates WNED-AM. In a promotional piece describing their magazine, Business Week’s publishers explain, “we call this point-of-view journalism because it goes beyond routine analysis to give our audience perspective on the ever-changing world of business.” This “point of view journalism” doesn’t seem to bother the honchos at WNED. When Amy Goodman applies the same theory to covering the ever-changing world of war, political corruption, environmental degradation, labor abuses and corporate politics – in essence challenging the dominant point of view presented by WNED’s other programs, a wall of censorship arises.
Real Public Radio – Not WNED & WBFO
Democracy Now, however, is coming to
The group, currently in negotiations with various local radio stations, has budgeted $20,000 to air Democracy Now for one year, hoping to have the program up and running by January. The program itself will then function as a fundraising tool to both sustain itself and to raise money to run other hard hitting news programs from Pacifica Radio, the Free Speech Network, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, etc.
Goodman Coming to
Democracy Now is the real deal. It’s
what public radio can and should be. It’s
criminal that the
On December 3rd, Amy Goodman is coming to town to speak at an
afternoon fundraiser at the Hallwall's
Dr. Michael I. Niman’s previous
columns are archived at http://mediastudy.com.
Democracy Now can be streamed from the web at http://democracynow.org.
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