After we published our list of 20 Top Global Thinkers, we thought we would be remiss if we did not also honor those who bring these voices to us in the first place. With the goal of recognizing those individuals and institutions responsible for exemplary reportage and awareness-raising in 2009, we asked our editors and writers to name their choices for the top 20 media figures, be they journalists, publications or publishers. We aggregated these nominations into the following list. Like our 20 Top Global Thinkers, our criteria for choosing media figures included individuals/publications/publishers who have shown a commitment to challenging power, holding it to account, highlighting issues pertaining to social justice and producing output that bucks conventional wisdom and encourages critical thinking.
A media institution in her own right, Amy Goodman has shown the true potential of independent media over the past 12 years by turning Democracy Now! into the largest public media collaboration in the US and around the world. Free of corporate sponsorship, DN’s hard-hitting daily broadcast rejects the soundbite format of mainstream media to provide in-depth coverage of the world’s most important issues. Unlike the MSM, Democracy Now! gives less emphasis to official voices than to those affected by the abuses of their offices. Goodman relentlessly pursues her stories, and often follows them long after the mainstream media has moved on to chase new headlines. Iraq and Afghanistan have therefore remained part of DN’s coverage for all the years that they were absent in the MSM. Policy-makers may have lost interest in the story, but for Goodman, the people on the receiving end continue to live the story. Her interviewees include voices that the MSM frequently excludes, including scholars, activists, heads of states out of favor with the United States, opposition leaders, and organizers. Through her journalism, writings and lectures, Goodman continues to set the bar for what every journalist should be aspiring to.
Al Jazeera has long set the bar for war reporting; Sherine Tadros and Ayman Mohyeldin have raised it even higher with their coverage of the conflict in Gaza in 2008- 2009. Tadros and Mohyeldin were the only two journalists working for an international English-language television network reporting from inside Gaza. They braved the dangers of Israel’s indiscriminate assault to bring hour-by-hour reporting the tragedy as it unfolded. Their courage was matched by the quality of their journalism. In 2009, Tadros continued to report from the region, covering the creeping ethnic cleansing of occupied Palestine. Mohyeldin, likewise, continues to report on issues such as the network of tunnels between Egypt and Gaza which are vital for the transfer of food, medicine and fuel supplies into Gaza.