Thursday, October 20, 2005

Democracy Now!

I must admit that over the years, I've very rarely tuned in to my cable network's local community television network. I suppose that occassionally, while surfing from station to station using my remote control, I've stopped once in a great while to view my home town government's Selectmen meeting or to watch a local high school sporting event. That was before I discovered Democracy Now!, a national, daily, independent news program airing on public access TV as well as on some NPR, community, and college radio stations. Produced by the Pacifica Radio Foundation, Democracy Now! is also broadcast on satellite television (DISH network: Free Speech TV ch. 9415 and Link TV ch. 9410; DIRECTV: Link TV ch. 375); and "podcast" on the Internet.

Nowadays, I tune in to my local community television channel almost everyday. I like to regularly watch Democracy Now! on Lower Cape TV, Channel 17, every morning between 8 and 9 am.

The Democracy Now! program provides access to people and perspectives rarely heard in the U.S.corporate-sponsored media, including independent and international journalists, ordinary people from around the world who are directly affected by U.S. foreign policy, grassroots leaders and peace activists, artists, academics and independent analysts.

For true democracy to work, people need easy access to independent, diverse sources of news and information. But the last two decades have seen unprecedented corporate media consolidation. The U.S. media was already fairly homogenous in the early 80s: some fifty media conglomerates dominated all media outlets, including television, radio, newspapers, magazines, music, publishing and film. In the year 2000, just six corporations dominated the U.S. media.

"Corporate" media outlets maximize profits. "Public" media outlets accept funding from major corporations, as well as from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Every Corporation for Public Broadcasting board member is appointed by the White House and confirmed by the Senate.

Democracy Now! is funded entirely through contributions from listeners, viewers, and foundations. They do not accept advertisers, donations from corporations, or donations from governments. This allows them to maintain their independence.

You may not always agree with Democracy Now!'s independent programming. For example, it recently broadcast an interview with veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk of the London Independent. Robert Fisk has been reporting on the Middle East for thirty years, covering every major event in the region, from the Algerian Civil War to the Iranian Revolution, from the American hostage crisis in Beirut to the Iran-Iraq War, from the Russian invasion of Afghanistan to Israel's invasions of Lebanon, from the Gulf War to the invasion and ongoing war in Iraq. Fisk, author of the book, "The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East," believes "the war in Iraq has been lost already."

Whether you agree or disagree with people like Robert Fisk isn't the point. I believe it's extremely valuable and important to have an opportunity to listen to alternative ideas and opinions. Democracy Now! is completely refreshing because it provides programming that is completely unlike anything else on TV or radio. If it's journalism's role as the Fourth Estate to always challenge power, then between 8 and 9 in the morning, Democracy Now! does a whole lot better job than Katie Couric and Matt Lauer on NBC's Today Show, Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson on ABC's Good Morning America, or Harry Smith and Julie Chen on CBS's The Early Show. Viva la difference.

Click here to read a complete transcript of Robert Fisk's interview entitled "War is the Total Failure of the Human Spirit"


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