Media experts to discuss American foreign policy

NEW PALTZ — The Journalism Program at the State University of New York at New Paltz will welcome Amy Goodman, host of the nationally syndicated television and radio news talk show “Democracy Now,” at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 30, in Lecture Center 100. The event is free and open to the public.

Goodman will headline a panel of speakers who will discuss American foreign policy and how the media tend to distort or ignore certain foreign policy issues. Other speakers at the event will include author and media reformer Jeff Cohen; Kim Ives, an expert on Haiti; and Matthew Edge, founder of the New York Democracy Project. New Paltz journalism professor Rob Miraldi will moderate the event.

The event is sponsored by various groups including the New Paltz chapter of the student-based Democracy Matters. The group’s president, Rachel John, called the event a chance to educate students and community about “the huge gap in America today between the expectations we hold for our government and the policies which are actually pursued, here at home and out in the world.”

Miraldi said the speakers are particularly knowledgeable about American foreign policy. Goodman was a reporter in 1991 when she and a fellow reporter were covering the U.S.-backed Indonesian occupation of East Timor. She and a colleague witnessed Indonesian soldiers gun down 270 East Timorese. Indonesian soldiers then beat Goodman and her colleague.

Goodman’s documentary, “Massacre: The Story of East Timor,” won numerous awards, including the Robert F. Kennedy Prize for International Reporting, the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Award, the Armstrong Award, the Radio/Television News Directors Award, as well as awards from the Associated Press, United Press International and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Goodman won major journalism awards again in 1999 when her 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 an oil spill in their community. Goodman’s “Democracy Now” program is one of the nation’s more popular progressive forums and often includes guests who discuss foreign policy issues.

Cohen, author of five books, is best known as the founder of a media watchdog group, FAIR. But he also appeared as a commentator on cable television news shows for 13 years. His recent book, “Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media,” recounts his time on television. Cohen recently visited Venezuela, which has been under fire from the Bush Administration, and he has been addressing America’s relationship with the oil-rich South American country.

Kim Ives is a writer and editor with the newspaper Haiti Progres, and is a documentary filmmaker who has directed and worked on many films about Haiti. He frequently speaks about Haiti before church, student and community audiences.

Edge, who founded the New Paltz chapter of Democracy Matters, currently works as the executive director of the New York Democracy Project, an organization that helps to elect candidates who support so-called “clean money and clean elections.”

Brian Lehrer, a student who helped organize the event, stressed the importance of hearing from independent voices at a time when “corporate control of most media blunts and stifles valid and useful critiques of American society.”

The event is cosponsored by the college’s Journalism Program; Exit 18, the campus literary magazine; and Students for a Sensible Drug Policy.