Ithaca College’s Park Center for Independent Media has awarded its first Izzy Award for special achievement in independent media to Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman. The award was named in honor of Isidor F. Stone, the famous investigative journalist who exposed government corruption and fought for civil liberties. The ceremony will be held Tuesday at the State Theatre. Staff writer Gillian Smith spoke with recipient Amy Goodman on the importance of independent journalism and her success as an investigative journalist.
Gillian Smith: In your opinion, what is the role of independent media in today's society?
Amy Goodman: The role of all media, not just independent media, is to hold those in power accountable, to question them about their policies, and to talk to people who live at the target end of those policies. Unfortunately, in order to be able to get that all-important leak from a named or, better yet, unnamed "senior official," many reporters trade truth for access. This is the "access of evil," when reporters forgo the tough questions out of fear of being passed over. Independent media, independent journalists ask the hard questions, they go to where the silence is.
GS: How do you think your reporting and success has impacted society and has it held up to your expectations?
AG: I think less of "success" than in terms of doing the best we can, each day, to get to the heart of the story, and to let people speak for themselves, not in nine-second sound bites, but to give them the time to develop complex arguments. People need accurate information to make decisions in their lives, to hear stories of people like them, to break down barriers. I am very fortunate to work with an incredible team at Democracy Now!, and to partner with a strong and growing network of community stations and channels that carry Democracy Now!. We need to demonstrate an alternative model to what the commercial networks have to offer, with endless celebrity gossip filling the space between advertisements from pharmaceutical companies and oil corporations. And we need to train a new generation of journalists and media workers. In this time of global warming, global warring and the global economic meltdown, we need a strong independent media.
GS: How do you feel about receiving the Izzy Award for special achievement in independent journalism and what will you talk about in Ithaca?
AG: I am deeply honored to be receiving the first Izzy Award, and to share it with Glenn Greenwald. I.F. Stone was an early inspiration to me, and it is fitting that the Park Center for Independent Media honors I.F. Stone's incredible career and contribution to our society by naming this award after him. I will be talking about the role of independent media in a time of war and financial crisis, about the role of social movements as the true force for change, and how we need a media that accurately and truthfully reports on these movements. Barack Obama was elected to the presidency on a wave of grassroots activism. The door is now open a crack — if the grassroots do not keep pressure up, do not make their demands, then the forces of the vested special interests, of the powerful, will slam the door shut.
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