Amy Goodman
Host, Democracy Now!

How Investigative Journalism was Lost

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The profit motive has usurped any controversial content, Amy Goodman laments.

Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman is the host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program airing on over 700 TV and radio stations in North America. Time Magazine named Democracy Now! its "Pick of the Podcasts," along with NBC's Meet the Press. With her brother, journalist David Goodman, she is the author of Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times (2008), Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back (2006) and The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them (2004). She also writes a weekly column (also produced as an audio podcast) syndicated by King Features, for which she was recognized in 2007 with the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Reporting. Goodman is the winner of the 2007 Gracie Award for Individual Achievement for a Public Broadcasting Host, from American Women in Radio and Television, and is a 2007 honoree with the Paley Center/Museum of Television and Radio's She Made It Collection, which "Ccelebrates the achievements and preserves the legacy of great women writers, directors, producers, journalists, sportscasters, and executives." She was the 2006 recipient of the Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship. Daily reporting from Nigeria and East Timor has earned her the George Polk Award, Robert F. Kennedy Prize for International Reporting, and the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award. She has also received awards from the Associated Press, United Press International, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and Project Censored.


Question: Why have networks turned away from investigative reporting?


Amy Goodman: Think back to the Persian Gulf War and the Wall Street Journal doing a piece on CBS executives, saying that the pieces on the war leading into the commercials had to be less gruesome because you couldn’t mix the blood with the toothpaste. It’s not gonna sell the toothpaste. We have a media in this country that is a commercial, for profit enterprise. But media is so important. It is the most important way we communicate with each other and learn about the world. I mean, if we don’t know about a country, if we don’t come from a country, how we do learn about it? We learn about it through the media, and as I said earlier it has to be through something other than a corporate lens.

When you have commercial media, they’re there to sell you something, and the news in between the commercials is just a filler. The question is, how you seduce people into buying whatever it is they’re selling, and you have the particular products in the commercials, but then you have the networks themselves, like, well, NBC, owned by General Electric, right? General Electric, one of the major nuclear weapons manufactures in the world. Is it any accident what we watch on television, when it comes to war, it looks like a military hardware show?

You’ve got the reporter, so excited, going into the tank, climbing into the helicopter, asking the pilot, “What does it feel like to press that button?” or in a tank, “What does it feel like to move forward?” Well, we should be at the target end. What does it feel like to be bombed? What does it feel like when that tank moves in? That’s our role. It’s to go to where the silence is.


Recorded on: August 11, 2008