February 2001 - Juan Gonzalez: Journalist, Activist
Juan Gonzalez has been a journalist and activist since the late 1960s. He’s written hard-hitting news and analysis for publications like In These Times and the New York Daily News. He has written several books about latinos in the United States. For the past years, Gonzalez’ focus has been on his work at “Democracy Now,” the most popular and influential news show on the Pacifica radio network. In fact, until recently, Pacifica was renown for its unflinching progressive viewpoint, and its democratic, listener-centered structure. Unfortunately, that has been changing.
In the late 1990s, the central board of Pacifica began to consolidate power, and began to shut others out of the decision-making process. Listeners’ opinions began to matter less. Policies were handed down from on high, rather than agreed upon by people at all levels of the network. The board began to limit the diversity of programming, and actually began to censor the types of stories which could be covered on their news shows. Loyal Pacifica listeners struck back, only to face an increasingly hostile board, which claimed to be working in everyone’s best interest.
Appalled that the network he loved was being hijacked in a power grab, Juan did his last Democracy Now broadcast on January 31. Gonzalez announced that this show would be his last, and took time to explain why. He told of Pacifica’s troubles, and that he was quitting his position to work full-time on pressuring Pacifica to return to its principles. He encouraged listeners to boycott the network’s upcoming fundraising drive, and instead, to give their donations to the organizations working to wrest control of the network away from the small clique on the national board.