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New York Times Profiles Democracy Now!

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On the heels of Democracy Now!'s coverage of Troy Davis' execution, and the Occupy Wall Street protests, The New York Times profiles our 15-year-old nonprofit newscast in an article in today’s paper titled, A Grass-Roots Newscast Gives a Voice to Struggles.

Hours after Amy Goodman, the host of the grass-roots newscast “Democracy Now!,” was arrested in Minnesota in 2008 while trying to cover protesters at the Republican National Convention, she was sitting in a network news studio above the convention floor, when a producer said: “I don’t get it. Why wasn’t I arrested?”

Hours after Amy Goodman, the host of the grass-roots newscast “Democracy Now!,” was arrested in Minnesota in 2008 while trying to cover protesters at the Republican National Convention, she was sitting in a network news studio above the convention floor, when a producer said: “I don’t get it. Why wasn’t I arrested?”

Ms. Goodman asked him, “Were you out on the streets?” No, he said, he had been in the studio the whole time. “I’m not being arrested here either,” she said she told him. “You’ve got to get out there.”

For Ms. Goodman, that exchange expresses both a shortcoming of the network newscasts that many Americans consume and a strength of “Democracy Now!,” the 15-year-old public radio and television program. The newscast distinguishes itself by documenting social movements, struggles for justice and the effects of American foreign policy, along with the rest of the day’s developments.

Operated as a nonprofit organization and distributed on a patchwork of stations, channels and Web sites, “Democracy Now!” is proudly independent, in that way appealing to hundreds of thousands of people who are skeptical of the news organizations that are owned by major media companies. The program “escapes the suffocating sameness that pervades broadcast news,” said John Knefel, a comedian and freelance writer who started listening about four years ago and now tries never to miss an episode.

Though it has long had a loyal audience, “Democracy Now!” has gained more attention recently for methodical coverage of two news events — the execution of the Georgia inmate Troy Davis and the occupation of Wall Street and other symbolic sites across the country. Ms. Goodman broadcast live from Georgia for six hours on Sept. 21, the evening of the execution, and “Democracy Now!” reporters were fanned out in Manhattan from the first day of the protests against corporate greed.

“At the time, we had no idea if the protest would even last the night, but we recognized it as potentially an important story,” said Mike Burke, a senior news producer for the program. He noted that “it took NPR more than a week to air its first story on the movement.”

Click here to read the rest of this article on the New York Times website.


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