Democracy Now-not laterPosted: November 16, 2010
Yesterday, Monday Nov 15, at 6:30 am, Noah and I made our way to the studios of Democracy Now! At BFS, we consider field trips an important learning vehicle. The lessons began at the crack of dawn. This involved getting a 10 year old out of bed at 6 am. Here is the first dialogue of the day:
“Noah, we are leaving for the studio. Are you still up for this?”
“No, I am too tired.”
“Well you are going to miss a rare opportunity. The only thing that is stopping you is your body.”
At which point he popped up, and proceeded to get himself ready, rather quickly. Once we were out the door, Noah began to take in the impression of the early morning activity. Remarking on seeing his local stores just beginning their day. But the first real shocking impression came at West 4th Street where we got off to change trains. A women, so hungry to sit down on the bench, did not notice that she was standing in a puddle of vomit. This was my opportunity to point out to my son the meaning of the word OBLIVIOUS.
Of course my introduction does not have much to do with our visit to the live set of Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman. When we came in, we were treated to bagels and coffee. Jerry Mintz from Aero was there along with a few students from Manhattan Free School. Ari and Benjamin and Tarin Shendler joined us from BFS. We were met by Amy’s main assistant, Karen Ranucci, who was gracious to lay out the ground rules and show us around the studio before the show went on air. We were taken into the main control room where the director and her assisstants worked on setting up the TV shots for the televised portion of the show.
Democracy Now! [DN!] is one of the only alternative news show in existence. Since it is independent, they are not beholden to shareholders with special interest, which compromises the news we hear at other stations. It was exciting to hear that DN! is syndicated on more than 900 radio stations worldwide. It broadcasts on Pacifica, NPR, community, and college radio stations; on public access, PBS, satellite television (DISH network: Free Speech TV ch. 9415 and Link TV ch. 9410; DIRECTV: Free Speech TV ch. 348 and Link TV ch. 375); and on the internet. DN!’s podcast is one of the most popular on the web.
For true democracy to work, people need easy access to independent, diverse sources of news and information.
We sat in a viewing area while the show aired. The group was cued to wave during a brief interlude, and shout out to our schools, went out over the air.
Afterwards we were introduced to the staff. Whenever it was possible, I asserted the philosophy of the school. The staff at DN! were unaware of what democratic education is. Amy herself admitted not really having much knowledge about it. When it was explained to her, with an emphasis on the democratic meeting, she responded, “So it is democracy now, not later.”
We had a few photo ops with her and Noah took the opportunity to try and snag a free subscription to MAD magazine by having Amy take a photo with him and the magazine. (The jury is still out whether he gets it.)
When I asked my son if the trip was useful, he replied that it was good that he got his photo with the magazine in it. But then he added that it was really great to see an actual TV show being shot and the whole workings behind it.
I am hoping to work this alliance to our movement. How is one to understand free speech and true democracy, if it is not a living part of the education process. Hopefully there will be more positive repercussions from our visit. Thank you to Amy Goodman and the staff of DN! And thank you Karen for the great photos!