Amy Goodman ’84, a rabble rouser since her days living the Dudley Co-op, was named a winner of the Right Livelihood Award last week, an honor known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize.”
Goodman will be the first journalist to be honored with the award in a ceremony at the Swedish Parliament when this year’s Nobel recipients receive their prizes.
The Right Livelihood Foundation, which has honored 133 laureates from 57 countries since its establishment in 1980, will recognize Goodman, the founder and co-host of Democracy Now!, a weekly independent news broadcast, “for developing an innovative model of truly independent political journalism that brings to millions of people the alternative voices that are often excluded by mainstream media.”
Democracy Now! is widely recognized as one of the leading progressive independent media outlets in the world. The show regularly covers stories its producers see as ignored by the mainstream media. Last month, Goodman was arrested, along with two of the show’s producers, while covering protesters at the Republican National Convention.
Goodman’s activity in progressive affairs dates back to her time in Cambridge. As a Harvard undergraduate, Goodman was involved in the divestment campaign from South Africa and played a role in the revival of Seven Sisters, a feminist magazine. Her anthropology thesis examining the dangers of Depot Provera, a contraceptive with widespread use in the developing world despite it’s banning in the United States, was featured in Multinational Monitor.
“My education at Harvard was as much in protesting the institution as in the classroom,” she said this weekend.
She called protest, “the responsibility we have to take for being part of a big institution.”
Her attitudes towards the establishment have scarcely changed, and she speaks passionately about the need to reclaim the “extremist media.”
“Media should be a sanctuary of dissent,” she said. “That’s what’s going to save this country.”
The award is seen as well-deserved by members of the journalism community.
“I don’t know any journalists who’s more courageous in her work,” her brother David L. Goodman ’82, who has co-written books with his sister, said.
Victor S. Navasky, former publisher of The Nation, agreed.
“It couldn’t go to a more deserving nose-thumber at the establishment,” Navasky said.
Journalism experts debate what place Goodman’s nose-thumbing has in relation to traditional journalism.
“It’s basically a left-wing prize being given to a left-wing program,” former managing news editor of NPR, John Dinges said of the Right Livelihood Award.
Dean of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism Nicholas J. Lemman ’76 said Goodman represents the model of the activist journalist.
“The activist journalist is much more embedded in the history of journalism than the impartial journalist,” said Lemman, who is also a former Crimson president. He pointed out that the idea of objective journalism didn’t become the norm until the late 19th century.
Goodman said she welcomes the award.
“It’s just a great honor for journalism to be recognized as a force for peace [that can] build bridges instead of advocating their bombing.”