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How To Democratize The Media
Amy Goodman has faith in the power of authentic stories.
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.
Amy Goodman: Oh, I don’t think it’s that hard. People are attracted to or interested in authentic stories and people’s life experiences. When you hear the name of a person and you hear them telling their story, you stop. You take a breath. You listen. As opposed to the, you know, the know nothing punditry that we get on all the networks. I mean, that is not interesting, and so when people say… People aren’t interested in politics. Look, are they tuning in to these political discussions? We have to bring them entertainment. No, and they’re smart not to, because that is chatter. That is not what is actually happening. That’s a certain class of a very select, small group of people. But when you have people telling their own stories… I’ll give an example. A few days ago, we did a story on recruiters, and we didn’t have the professors or the pundits talking about recruiting in America. We had 2 kids. We had Irving Gonzales and Eric Martinez. Eric, 17, and Irving is 18, and they’re friends, and they come from a poor section of Houston, Texas, and they were being heavily recruited. The recruiters are crawling through their high school. I mean, they’re in their classrooms and they will call them out.
They will say, “Hey. I wanna talk to you,” when they’re sitting in their classroom. And these kids agreed to be part of something called the delayed enlistment program. You know, they’d graduate from high school and then they go into the military, but it was nonbinding, what they signed. And when they decided not to do it, they wanted to go on to college directly, the recruiter said, well, they would be arrested, that they now had to go to war. And they resisted. One was taken to a hotel, on his way to basic training.
They were threatened. And we had the two other kids on, talking, and we had a Congressman on, Gene Green from Houston, hearing them tell their stories, how one was taken to a hotel. He was not able to go down from the second floor to the first floor. The elevator was disabled, so he couldn’t go down, and he was gonna end up who knows where, in Iraq or Afghanistan. And it was a remarkable story, how his friend called him up and said, “Where are you?” he said, “Well, I’m already in the hotel. This isn’t a game. We have to go or we’re gonna end up in jail.” And he said, “That’s not true. I’ve been talking to people. I found out this is untrue. They’re lying to us.” And of course they were. The recruiter was. But we also had on the head of the army recruiting command from Louisville, Kentucky, a man named Douglas Smith, and asked them about why they were being told they would be arrested if they didn’t go to war. The sergeant in charge of their… The sergeant who had been the previous recruiter in the Greenspoint Recruiting Station at the local mall had threatened another kid and said, “If you don’t show up at 2:00, we will have a warrant out for your arrest,” and he was removed, as he should have been.
What wasn’t said is he was, ended up as the commander of another recruiting station. So I asked this recruiting spokesperson about this, why it was that he was promoted, and he said, “What do you want these guys to get? The death penalty? Okay. He made a mistake,” he said. “But what do you want? To get the death penalty?” I said, “There’s a difference between the death penalty and a promotion.” Well, the congressman got so enraged as he listened to this, as he listened to 17 year old Eric, holed up in a hotel, terrified, his mother told he would be going to jail if he didn’t go off to the military, that he’s now just written a letter to the Secretary of Defense and he’s demanding an investigation.
There is nothing more powerful than people telling their own experiences. We had a little boy on. We [heard]… You know, everyone knows immigration is a very critical issue in this country, but to hear people discuss it, your eyes glaze over and you wanna turned to any entertainment and non reality show, right? We should really have reality shows, like the reality of what it means to be in for profit immigration prison. That’s a good reality show, as opposed to the ones that don’t express reality. But there’s a reason why people turn to entertainment, because the kind of obfuscation and lies on these talk shows are not worth watching. What about when you really hear a little boy like Kevin, who we had on, 9 years old.
We heard that this little boy and his parents were put in an immigration prison in Texas. We got through to the prison, live on Democracy Now!. I was talking to his father, and I said, “Is Kevin there?” Kevin was his son, born in Canada there. His parents are Iranian. And I said, “Kevin, where are you?” He says, “I’m in jail.” This boy was 9 years old, and I said. “Well, what do you want to do right now?” And he said, “I just want to go to school. I wanna be free.” In the United States, it hardly got any attention, but in Canada, those few words, those sentences of this little, innocent boy got played all across Canada. On radio, on television, quoted in the newspapers, and the Canadian government finally allowed the family in. There’s nothing more breathtaking than when you hear someone speaking their own truth. With all of these channels we have, where are people describing their own experiences about issues that matter, that we determine? I mean, that’s what public policy is all about, and so, go to the target end, hear what people have to say, and that’s media serving a democratic society.
Recorded on: August 11, 2008
Amy Goodman has faith in the power of authentic stories.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Vaccines find more success in development than any other kind of drug, but have been relatively neglected in recent decades.
Vaccines are more likely to get through clinical trials than any other type of drug — but have been given relatively little pharmaceutical industry support during the last two decades, according to a new study by MIT scholars.
An article in Journal of Bioethical Inquiry raises questions about the goal of these advocacy groups.
- Two-thirds of American consumer advocacy groups are funded by pharmaceutical companies.
- The authors of an article in Journal of Bioethical Inquiry say this compromises their advocacy.
- Groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness act more like lobbyists than patient advocates.
The Corruption That Brought Prozac to Market — Robert Whitaker, Journalist<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bea9cff2b25efc18b663a011a679ba16"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UyaJExxFPAE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Consumer-oriented groups gained steam over the ensuing decades. Their efforts helped inspire the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act after over 100 people (mostly children) died from a sanctioned drug, Sulfanilamide. If not for the hard work of these advocates, this case might have been overlooked.</p><p>Early efforts also focused on the food industry, which was increasingly using chemical preservatives. The origin of Consumer Reports can be found in the consumer advocacy movement. Both the food and drug industries were getting a free pass to experiment on citizens with few repercussions.</p><p>These movements provided a social foundation for important advocacy work in the second half of the century. Female-led groups evolved to focus on women's reproductive rights, AIDS, and mental health. As the authors write, these groups struck a balance between working <em>with</em> and <em>against</em> current trends. Sometimes you need to craft legislation with officials; at other times, you have to rage against the machine with everything you've got. </p><p>Advocacy marked an important turning point in public health (and culture in general). These groups were tired of placating to a medical model that treated the male body as the standard. This wasn't limited to anatomy. As I <a href="https://bigthink.com/coronavirus/pandemic-warnings-rp-eddy" target="_self">wrote about last week</a>, a high-profile 1970s-era conference about the role of women on Wall St featured no women on stage. You can imagine what reproductive health looked like during that time. </p><p>Advocacy groups made real impact in public health. Then the money began pouring in. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"These groups were funded largely by individual donations with some foundation support, but in the late 1980s, newer women's health groups moved to professionalize, effectively splitting the women's health movement."</p><p>A number of groups resist corporate ties to this day, such as the National Women's Heath Network and Breast Cancer Action. Too often, however, groups argue that their existence depends on corporate funding. This can lead to uncomfortable compromises. </p><p>An estimated two-thirds of patient advocacy groups in America accept funds from the pharmaceutical industry. Pharma companies gave <a href="https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s11673-019-09956-8.pdf" target="_blank">at least $116 million</a> to such groups in 2015 alone.</p><p>For example, over a three-year period, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which was founded by two mothers whose sons suffered from schizophrenia, received nearly $12 million from 18 pharmaceutical companies. The largest donor was Prozac manufacturer, Eli Lilly. By 2008, three-quarters of NAMI's budget was funded by the pharmaceutical industry. It gets worse:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"An Eli Lilly executive was even 'on loan' to NAMI, paid by Eli Lilly, while he worked out of the NAMI office on 'strategic planning.'"</p>
A customer waiting for his medication at the Headache Bar in a pharmacy in Sydney, Australia. Among the items on sale are 'Paigees with Chlorophyll' and Alka Seltzer on tap.
Photo by Dennis Rowe/BIPs/Getty Images<p>This influx of cash skews public understanding of drugs. It also influences advocates to overlook real problems caused by pharmaceutical interventions, especially when it comes to mental health.<br></p><p>For a real-world example, consider how Xanax came to market. As journalist Robert Whitaker <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2e829xdb4AA" target="_blank">explains</a>, an <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1463502/?page=1" target="_blank">initial study</a> was conducted to determine efficacy in treating panic attacks. After four weeks, Xanax was outperforming placebo, which is common with benzodiazepines over short-term usage. But it wasn't a four-week study; it was a 14-week study.</p><p>At the end of eight weeks, there was no difference in efficacy between Xanax and placebo.</p><p>At the conclusion of the study after 14 weeks, the placebo outperformed Xanax. By a lot.</p><p>Why is Xanax still prescribed for panic attacks? Because the pharmaceutical company, Upjohn, only published the four-week data. The 14-week data was not in its favor. Nearly forty years later, over <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/781816/alprazolam-sodium-prescriptions-number-in-the-us/" target="_blank">25 million</a> Americans receive a prescription despite its <a href="https://drugabuse.com/xanax/effects-use/" target="_blank">long list</a> of side effects and addictive profile. </p><p>As the authors note, many consumers are not aware of how advocacy groups are funded.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"An international study of groups in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and South Africa found that the extent of relationships with industry was inadequately disclosed in websites that addressed ten health conditions: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, depression, Parkinson's disease, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis."</p><p>That's a tangled web of relationships. Pharmaceutical industry funding negatively impacts the work advocacy groups should be focused on: protecting us. NAMI, for example, claims that as a "natural ally" to the pharmaceutical industry, it helps consumers access "all scientifically proven treatments." When the industry ignores evidence of long-term damage caused by its treatments, you have to wonder what's being advocated. </p><p>Although, as the authors conclude, that question is easy to answer. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Instead of drawing insights from patient experience to set organizational agendas and challenge industry agendas, today's groups are silent on high prices and drug harms, oppose efforts to regulate these basic rights, and demand access to drugs that challenge the safety and effectiveness."</p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
Want help raising your kids? Spend more time at church, says new study.
- Religious people tend to have more children than secular people, but why remains unknown.
- A new study suggests that the social circles provided by regular church going make raising kids easier.
- Conversely, having a large secular social group made women less likely to have children.