Amy Goodman, the Dakota Access Pipeline and Freedom of the Press

The Challenge: “Write a reasoned and professional 275-word argumentative analysis, taking a side on the following question: “Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! should or should not have been arrested for covering the Dakota Pipeline story?”

“The trampling of our rights as activists, or as journalists, isn’t just a problem in North Dakota.” Photograph: Mike McCleary / AP

Amy Goodman, award-winning journalist and host of Democracy Now!, was given an arrest warrant after covering the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in September (although charges have since been revoked).

Amy Goodman’s coverage shows protestors being ambushed by security guards with pepper spray and attack dogs. Lizzy Ratner of The Nation writes, “Not one of the major American broadcast networks had sent a reporter to cover the protests, despite the fact that they had already grown into the largest Native American mobilization in more than 40 years.” It wasn’t until Goodman’s footage went viral that mainstream media outlets began reporting on the event. With that traction came Goodman’s arrest warrant, but was it justifiable?

Goodman should not have been arrested for covering the protests because, simply put, it is her job to do so.

According to The Guardian, authorities argued Goodman didn’t deserve press protection because “her opinions made her an ‘activist’ instead of a journalist.” Goodman covered a story that went against the corporate interests of a state, so she was punished without prosecutors recognizing the importance of her job and obligation to report the facts. Her arrest warrant, ultimately, was a breach on the First Amendment (which allocates freedom to the press). We need to recognize the vital role journalists play in social change. Although objectivity is required most of the time, I believe more reporters should do their jobs with heart and share the voices/experiences of the marginalized.

Journalism is not a crime, and we need more reporters with the same passion for social justice Goodman has. Her fearlessness is admirable.


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