Thursday, June 12, 2008

Democracy Now!

It's not everyday you get to meet to your hero. It's not everyday you get the opportunity to listen to them, make eye contact with them, speak with them, let alone interview them. Especially when that person is the indefatigable, undefeatable, incomparable, Amy Goodman. To say that this woman has impacted my life is to understate the importance her work and example plays in my life. since September 11, America has become a hostile and chilly place for dissenting view points, social justice activists, Muslims Americans, Arab Americans, South Asian Americans, and anyone who tries to stand up for the maligned, misunderstood and racially profiled. America has become a place where blatant hatred and discrimination in government policy, the media, pop culture, and social institutions is acceptable and rampant again. America is waging 2 wars and threatening to wage another against Iran. Throughout this process of war and hate mongering, Amy Goodman has been a beacon of reason, compassion, acceptance and willingness to intellectually, calmly, and with context, approach all sides of any news that happens. Goodman, along with Juan Gonzalez, take a stand against bigotry, hate, posturing, war cheerleading, and repeating the official line of any government on their daily multimedia news show, Democracy Now! You can listen to today's show along with all archives at democracynow.org .
I was interested in her background; how had she gotten in journalism? where did she grow up? what was her family like? how is she able to do what she does?
I got to interview her, my first interview ever! I borrowed a colleague's tape recorder (you read that right, it had a cassette in it!) and ended up in a heavy metal cafe (who has ever heard of such a thing? Only at Wesleyan I guess). It was so unbearably loud in there, but I persevered, asking all the questions I could think of, as the owner of the tape recorder listened and occasionally moved the tape recorder closer to Goodman's low voice. After the interview was over, my colleague put the tape recorder next to his computer and made a faint digital recording of the interview, which i now have. The file is huge and hard to hear, but if I can manage, I'll post it. A friend of mine had a proper digital voice recorder, but after half a day of journalism workshops, it was out of battery and not an option. To get the interview, I basically caught Goodman off guard, in the bathroom, after she first arrived on campus. Before speaking to us, she darted into the restroom to freshen up, and I happened to walk in as she was standing there at the sink. I was so surprised to see her in person, but I instantly asked if I could interview her after her lecture. She agreed and said that this is definitely the way to get an interview- catch someone off guard and ask them for info/an interview/cooperation. I was hugely complimented that she said yes and was gracious enough to turn my potential faux pas into a journalistic strength. After the interview, we all had dinner, and I was sitting at the same table as her. I remember that the year before, upon hearing that a friend's grandmother was close to Goodman, I commented that I know I'll have made it when I get to have dinner with Amy Goodman. I clearly haven't made it yet, but thank God for gifts delivered early! It was an awesome day. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Investigative Journalism Workshop in Honor of David Halberstam

Morning Folks!

I'm writing from Wesleyan University on Tuesday morning. I'm at Camp Take a Stand, an investigative journalism workshop in honor of David Halberstam, sponsored by The Center for the Study of Responsive Law, Ralph Nader's advocacy group. Ralph Nader came and spoke to us! It was so cool! He's really interesting. Nader and Halberstam grew up together in Winstead CT and were lifelong friends. After David Halberstam was killed last year, Nader contacted many of Halberstam's friends and colleagues in order to try and honor David's legacy in a journalistic manner. David spent a lot of time in his prolific life encouraging, mentoring, and lecturing young journalists and students in journalism. He was killed leaving a speech to Berkeley journalism students. Jim Wooten, an ABC correspondent for World News Tonight who was one of David's best friends came and talked to us about David. Many of David's childhood friends from CT and colleagues who had worked with him throughout his life at the NY Times and other publications were here to share his memory with us and to actively remember his legacy as the finest American journalist of the last fifty years. Nader came to speak with us under these auspices and gave each of us 3 books to read, one he co-wrote. Very cool! Then he hung around for much of the day with us. Roberta Baskin, corporate misconduct investigative journalism from WJLA tv in DC came to speak with us. She was the most interesting faculty member of the day. She has done so many imporatant stories that have changed public policy- she's a huge advocate for consumer protections and does as much as she can to expose the filthy scandals of corporations. She's very cool! She couldnt stick around more than yesterday b/c she has another workshop to go lecture at. The coolest thing that happened yesterday was last night. We each have to write an aritcle about the workshop during this week and post it to our online newspaper/blog. my assignment is to interview AMY GOODMAN!!!!!!! More on that in a few hours, after lunch she's giving us a workshop about the art of the interview.... SWEET!!!! I'm super excited....