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History & Highlights

Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman began her career in community radio in 1985 at Pacifica Radio’s New York Station, WBAI. She produced WBAI’s Evening News for 10 years.


In 1990 and 1991, Amy traveled to East Timor to report on the US-backed Indonesian occupation of East Timor. There, she and colleague Allan Nairn witnessed Indonesian soldiers gun down 270 East Timorese. Indonesian soldiers beat Amy and Allan, fracturing Allan’s skull. Their documentary, “Massacre: The Story of East Timor” won numerous awards. The Indonesian military banned Amy and Allan from returning to the country, and in 1994 the two were arrested as they attempted to enter. In 1999, they deported Amy as she attempted to cover the referendum, in which East Timorese voted overwhelmingly for independence. In May of 2002, Democracy Now! returned to East Timor to cover the founding of the new nation. The 5-day series, From Annihilation to a New Nation, was the most comprehensive coverage of East Timor’s transition to independence broadcast in the United States.

Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now! began on February 19, 1996 as the only daily election show in public broadcasting. Due to popular demand, Democracy Now! continued beyond the presidential elections, soon becoming Pacifica’s flagship news and public affairs program.

In 1998, Amy Goodman and producer Jeremy Scahill went to Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, to investigate the activities of U.S. oil companies in the Niger Delta. The radio documentary “Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria’s Oil Dictatorship” exposed Chevron’s role in the killing of two Nigerian villagers who were protesting yet another oil spill in their community. The documentary won the 1998 George Polk Award.

The Democracy Now! team headed to Seattle in November of 1999, for an eight-day special on the Battle of Seattle, documenting the action in the streets and in the suites, and the explosion of anti-corporate globalization activism onto the world stage. Democracy Now! continues to bring the voices of the streets to the airwaves, with on-the-ground coverage from Washington to Prague, Quebec City to Porto Alegre, Brazil.

In 1999, Amy Goodman traveled to Peru to interview American political prisoner, Lori Berenson. It was the first time a journalist had ever gotten into the prison to speak to her.

In 2000, Democracy Now! pioneered an unprecedented multi-media collaboration involving non-profit community radio, satellite and cable television, and the internet. Democracy Now! broadcast, live two-hour daily specials at the Republican and Democratic national conventions, direct from the Independent Media Centers in Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

On Election Day in 2000, Amy and WBAI’s Gonzalo Aburto conducted a memorable half-hour interview with then-President Bill Clinton. The two asked hard-hitting questions the President wasn’t used to hearing. By the end, Clinton called Amy “hostile” and “combative” and at times “disrespectful”. Amy said she was just doing her job.

Shortly after September 11, 2001, Democracy Now! began broadcasting on television every weekday. It is the only public media program in the country that airs simultaneously on radio, satellite and cable television, and the internet.

Democracy Now! became an independent non-profit organization in June, 2002. The program is currently broadcast on over 1,400 public television and radio stations and is growing daily.

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