Northampton Group to Host Nobel Winner, Congresswoman

The public is invited to hear speeches by a Nobel prize winner, a congresswoman, and others at an event organized by a non-profit organization in Northampton. The three-day National Conference for Media Reform starts April 8 in Boston.

Joseph Stiglitz is a professor at Columbia University. He won the 2001 Nobel prize for economics. In his 2010 book, “Free Fall,” Stiglitz says big banks pay their CEOs too much, and blasts the federal government for giving the banks billions in taxpayer money in recent years.

When she was elected in 2008, Donna Edwards became the first African American woman to represent Maryland in the U.S. House of Representatives. Edwards co-founded and was director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, where she led the effort to pass the Violence Against Women Act. The Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire Law School. The AFL-CIO gave her a near-perfect score of 11 out of 12 for her votes in 2010. The League of Conservation Voters gave her a near-perfect score for her three years in Congress.

Also speaking at the conference will be U.S. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, and U.S. senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Sanders is probably the strongest advocate for the labor and environmental movements in congress.

Another speaker is Amy Goodman, host of the advertising-free, democratically run news program “Democracy Now!” The program is heard weekdays at 91.1 FM in Amherst, 107.9 FM in Greenfield, 103.3 FM in Northampton, 88.9 FM in Springfield, 107.7 FM in Brattleboro, 91.3 FM in Keene, and at www.DemocracyNow.org

The Boston event is organized by a Northampton group, Free Press. The group’s mission is to “promote diverse and independent media ownership, strong public media, quality journalism and universal access to communications.” Examples of “public media” are National Public Radio, PBS, and Pacifica Radio. By “communications,” the founders of Free Press mean fast internet, according to the group’s web site, www.FreePress.net

A 2010 book by Free Press co-founders Robert McChesney and John Nichols, “The Death and Life of American Journalism,” gives more details on the group’s mission. They call on Congress and President Obama to follow the lead of the Scandinavian nations in boosting public funding for local, national, and international journalism. They spell out ways to prevent government control of journalists, such as raising taxes on the rich to give every American $300 per year that they can donate to the news outlet of their choice, from Fox News to NPR to Valley Free Radio in Northampton or the Brattleboro Commons newspaper.

More information is at http://conference.freepress.net

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