A nationally syndicated radio personality said such independent media outlets as Access Tucson and KXCI Community Radio may see their audiences grow during the United States' continuing occupation of Iraq and the upcoming presidential election.
Amy Goodman, executive producer and host of the independent Democracy Now!, says the increase will come as readers, viewers and listeners turn away from mainstream media.
"It's going to burst on the scene in a big way," said Goodman before speaking last night at Centennial Hall. "We need a media that is open to the voices of the people at the grass-roots level - the people who are struggling every day to make their communities a better place.
"We need public media more than ever."
Goodman was in Tucson after covering a protest held by Coalicion Derechos Humanos and the Indigenous Alliance Without Borders in Nogales, Ariz., and Nogales, Son.
"I think it's a desperate situation," said Goodman of U.S. border policy. "It has got to stop.
"I think there's a sad irony in the fact that that wall (the border fence) is made out of landing platforms from the Persian Gulf War, which links the war abroad with the war at home," she said. "Immigrants are not terrorists. Immigrants built this country and we have to treat them with respect."
Goodman's talk about independent media during wartime and elections drew a crowd that almost filled the University of Arizona hall.
"I think it's the most important time for independent media," Christian Timmerman, a retired retail salesman, said before the presentation. "I think mainstream media is the mouth of corporate media."
Public media allows for an open forum to discuss all sides of an issue, said Sam Behrend, executive director of Access Tucson, the local cable access television channel.
"All views are welcome, whether they are political, cultural or religious," he said. "I think there's an increase right now of political programs and it's all different sides."
Last night's event was part of a fund-raiser for KXCI and Access Tucson. Both stations air Democracy Now! five days a week.
Goodman will remain in Tucson until tomorrow, when Democracy Now! will air live from the city at 5 a.m.
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