Below is the letter that I sent to Ms. Amy Goodman, host of the popular television news program “Democracy Now” that broadcasts from New York City. In the letter, I draw attention to the almost complete absence of coverage on Democracy Now about Asia. This rather liberal show takes a great interest in the downtrodden of the world, and for that I am most thankful, but for some reason, it appears that social, economic and political issues are of interest if they are in the Middle East, Central America and Latin America, but Asia is not of any particular interest to their programming.
Of course my observation may be incorrect, but I would like to note for the record that I sent this letter twice via the on-line format and mailed the hard copy to Ms. Goodman.
I only wrote her after three attempts to get someone on the phone who would respond to me concerning this issue failed. I think you could say I was stonewalled by the team at Democracy Now.
I never received any sort of response to a very serious and important point that I raised in the letter. I find this rather baffling since Ms. Goodman is constantly attacking people for stonewalling her and not answering her questions. Could it be that stonewalling is something that only applies to other people?
I sometimes wonder whether many traditional liberals in the United States have simply written off East Asia as belonging to business and the Republicans, and prefer to focus on their pet concerns: Latin America and the Middle East. I do not claim to understand. Do enlighten me on this point.
By the way, I still watch Democracy Now for news reports today. it covers many important issues, even as it has enormous blind spots.
September 5, 2012
Ms. Amy Goodman
207 W. 25th St., Floor 11
New York, NY 10001
Dear Ms. Goodman
I find the reporting of Democracy Now to be extremely professional and timely, offering in many cases the only source of reliable news about contemporary economics and politics. In particular, I am deeply grateful to you and the Democracy Now team for your constant effort to include up-to-date reporting while still finding enough time to introduce books and analysis of long-term trends. That combination makes Democracy Now unique among sources for information globally.
I would like to make a request of you in the interest of improving the media reporting of Democracy Now and making your coverage more balanced for your increasing audience.
At present, Democracy Now offers a good range of reporting about current social issues in the United States, Israel, the Middle East in general, Central America and South America. You cover not only headline stories concerning war and peace in these regions, you also present interviews and in-depth analysis concerning social and political issues within these regions. Such coverage is critical for the understanding of Latin America and the Middle East in the United States and provides a critical service.
I am concerned, however, that there is no such in-depth reporting about the issue of economics, human rights, democracy and the experiences of working people in Asia. I do not see such reporting on Democracy Now about the local concerns of local residents in China, Japan, Uzbekistan, Korea, Mongolia and elsewhere in this region. As an emerging region of the world in need of balanced reporting, and as a region of importance to the United States it is critical that we introduce to Americans the full complexity of the region and the important domestic and international issues that impact people in Indonesia or Thailand. Asians are struggling with many of the same challenges to the economy and environment and it will make an infinite difference for them to get decent coverage on Democracy Now.
I also would very highly recommend that you consider posting Democracy Now stories and reports in Chinese as well as Spanish. The United States has a significant Chinese speaking population and there is an enormous range of listeners throughout the world for whom Chinese is a primary language. I sincerely hope that you will consider including Chinese versions of future broadcasts.
I would like to volunteer my assistance in your future efforts to report about Asia. I am happy to answer questions via interview, or to find the appropriate people for you to interview throughout the region. Just let me know how I can be of help.
The Asia Institute