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Democracy Now host wins Right Livelihood Award

WASHINGTON -- Amy Goodman, host of the widely-syndicated TV/radio show Democracy Now! that has been dominated by coverage of the Iraq war and its fallout, is the first journalist to win a so-called Alternative Nobel Prize with a 2008 Right Livelihood Awards.

Goodman, who founded the grassroots global news show, was honored for “developing an innovative model of truly independent political journalism that brings to millions of people the alternative voices that are often excluded by the mainstream media,” the Right Livelihood Foundation said of the award, which was announced Wednesday in Sweden.

The hour-long show is currently syndicated to more than 700 radio and TV networks.

When U.S. soldiers invaded Iraq six years ago, Democracy Now! stood out as the only media forum for opponents of the war in the United States. “I really believe in free speech and independent journalism as a tool for peace, for understanding,” the 51-year-old journalist said in reaction to getting the award.

Goodman was born in 1957, graduated from Harvard in 1984 and became news director at New York radio station WBAI a few years later. She launched Democracy Now! in 1996. She received the Golden Reel for the Best National Documentary for “Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria’s Oil Dictatorship” in 1998, and the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Prize for “Massacre: The Story of East Timor.”

The East Timor story was near-fatal for Goodman, who survived a massacre in which Indonesian soldiers gunned down 270 Timorese. Today, she continues her fight against the U.S. administration’s curtailment of civil rights, in place after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

On receiving the Alternative Nobel with four others — three of them women — Goodman said: “It makes me realize how important the work of bringing a truly independent voice to broadcast news and journalism really is.” That’s why Goodman says she continues to get up every morning and go to work “still as excited as my first day at Democracy Now! over 12 years ago.”

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