Juan Gonzalez: A minority people’s history of the United States

250px-Juan_GonzálezWinston Churchill may have said history is written by the victors, but Juan Gonzalez urges people to take a closer look at the real writers: the journalists who provide the rough drafts to history.

“The instrument they report inherently serves as material that is mined by scholars who decode our history later,” he said.

Gonazalez — known as an anchor on “Democracy Now!” — spoke about his new book, “News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media” at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Ithaca College’s Emerson Suites. He uses this as an opportunity to give the audience a history lesson — one that historian Howard Zinn would have approved of.

Narrating the legacies of black, Asian, Latino and Native American journalists, Gonzalez works at making influential minority reporters — such as The LA Times’ Ruben Salazar, the Sacramento Bee’s John Rollin, and The Pittsburgh Courier’s Robert L. Vann — to be household names.

“What we do in the book is that all the major change is by the people,” Gonzalez said. “It’s the people who rise up and change it.”

Working as a journalist for the past 35 years, Gonzalez knows how to change history firsthand. He has covered stories ranging from economics and labor to crime and race relation during his tenure at “Democracy Now!” and at the New York Daily News.

“I question myself every day on how much I have censored myself,” he said.

Although Juan Gonzalez is a self-defined “hard news man,” he says journalism is failing because of corporate ownership, which control the media.

“Those who control the pipes are buying the networks,” he said. “The news is no longer The New York Times, ABC, NBC and CBS. It’s Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner.”

He said cable television is a gold mine for media owners who charge customers for their product.

“It’s not that there’s no money in media,” he said. “There’s just not any money in legacy media. But there’s money in cell phones and cable TV.”

Because of the path journalism is taking, Gonzalez said it becomes more important to push change as well as remember the people who did just that.

“One of the things we tried to do in my book was to tell the story of these journalists because they are just as important as the Horace Greenleys and Walter Cronkites,” Gonzalez said.


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