Democracy Now! Co-Host Juan Gonzalez

Date(s) - Friday 04/20/2012 - 04/21/2012
11:00 pm - 1:00 am

Two-time Polk Award-winning New York Daily News columnist and Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez has emerged as one of the country’s best-known and most-respected Latino journalists during a turbulent career spanning more than 35 years.  Even before he entered journalism, Gonzalez distinguished himself as a leader of the Young Lords, a militant civil rights organization of the late 1960s, and of the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights in the 1970s.  The author of four books, his most recent is “News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media.”

His recent reporting on the fatal shooting of a retired Marine in White Plains cracked a tightly kept secret, revealing for the first time that the man who pulled the trigger is one of six cops accused in a federal police brutality case stemming from an incident in 2008.

He is a two-time recipient of the George Polk Award for commentary (1998 and 2010), and the first reporter in New York City to consistently expose the health effects arising from the September 11, 2001 attacks and the cover-up of these hazards by government officials.

He is a founder and past president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and a member of NAHJ’s Hall of Fame. During his term as NAHJ president, Gonzalez created the Parity Project, an innovative program that creates partnerships between local communities and media organizations to improve coverage of the Latino community and to recruit and retain more Hispanic journalists. He also spearheaded a successful movement among U.S. journalists to join other citizen groups in opposing the Federal Communications Commission’s deregulation of media ownership restrictions.

A founding member of the Young Lords Party in the 1970s and of the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights in 1980s, Gonzalez has twice been named by Hispanic Business Magazine as one of the country’s most influential Hispanics and has received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, the National Council of La Raza, and the National Puerto Rican Coalition.

Gonzalez has written four books: “Fallout: The Environmental Consequences of the World Trade Center Collapse,” documents cover-ups by Environmental Protection Agency and government officials with regard to health hazards at Ground Zero in New York; “Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America” and “Roll Down Your Window: Stories of a Forgotten America.” His latest book, “News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media,” is a landmark narrative history of American media that puts race at the center of the story.

“News for All the People” is a sweeping account of the class and racial conflicts in American news media, from the first colonial newspaper to the internet age. It chronicles key government decisions that created our nation’s system of news, major political battles over the role of the press, and the rise of media conglomerates and epoch-defining technologies. The book reveals how racial segregation in the media distorted the news and unearths numerous examples of how publishers and broadcasters actually fomented racial violence through their coverage. And it illuminates how Black, Latino, Asian, and Native American journalists fought to create a vibrant yet little-known alternative and democratic press and then, beginning in the 1970s, forced open the doors of the major media companies. 

González was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico in 1947, to Pepe, a veteran of the Puerto Rican 65th Infantry during World War II, and Florinda. González was raised in East Harlem and Brooklyn. After a period as editor of his high school newspaper, the Lane Reporter, González graduated from Columbia College in the mid-1960s, where he was active in the anti-Vietnam War movement and played a leading role in the protests that shut down the college in spring 1968 as one of three “Strike Central” representatives on the strike coordinating committee.

Follow his work at the NY Daily News and at Democracy Now!

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