by Adam Horowitz on December 14, 2009
Flashpoints, a daily, national investigative news magazine based out of KPFA in Berkeley, California, is in danger of ending. Run by Dennis Bernstein, Miguel Molina and Nora Barrows-Friedman, the show has been an essential source for reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Just recently we mentioned them as being the only national outlet to run Ali Abunimah”s speech from the Hampshire BDS conference. It seems the show is in danger due to cutbacks at KPFA, which may be politically motivated. Ironically, Flashpoints”s work is so valuable that it had just been awarded a lifetime achievement award from Project Censored and the Media Freedom Foundation.
In particular, the work of Nora Barrows-Friedman has stood out to me. As producer and co-host, as well as a correspondent for Inter Press Service, she has provided crucial on the ground reporting from the West Bank and Gaza. Barrows-Friedman has also helped share her skills with Palestinian children desperate to share their story with the world through the Freedom Radio Project based in Bethlehem”s Dheisheh refugee camp.
The Flashpoints team is asking for help from supporters to keep the show on the air. Here is part of a note from Barrows-Friedman after learning that she was getting her time cut in half at the station and the show”s technical producer had been eliminated all together:
In the nearly 7 years that I have been a part of the Flashpoints team, I have proudly put my blood, sweat and tears into this show. I am privileged to have been mentored by Dennis Bernstein, who has nearly killed himself for the last two decades to put this show on the air day after day after day, with nothing but contempt and disrespect from the KPFA power structure. Over the last six years, I have been honored to take on the brutal beat of Palestine, and have covered it for Pacifica listeners from the ground, oftentimes taking vacation hours to leave, and raising my own money (or putting it on a credit card) to get there and work for week s at a time, dodging bullets and risking my own safety.
This story especially is one that I carry a great amount of respect for, and I know that tens of thousands of listeners all across the world depend on our Palestine coverage because there is no parallel. Dennis and I have put our hearts and souls into this story, and all other stories we cover on Flashpoints, because we feel that we owe it to the people to make this show a platform for the voiceless and to act as a beacon of truth and dissent against the powers that be. We have survived death threats, verbal attacks, physical attacks, and literal bullets. But we cannot survive the evisceration of our production staff without a fight from the greater community.
So far this fight has included a petition signed by prominent guests that have appeared on the show including Howard Zinn, Dahr Jamail, Anthony Arnove, Dr. Richard Falk, and Peter Phillips (of Project Censored). The petition reads:
Dear KPFA and Pacifica Radio Management and Boards:
We, the undersigned, are very concerned about the recent cutbacks aimed at Flashpoints.
This show in particular has been an extremely important platform for our work as journalists, writers, scholars, activists and social critics. We value the level of truth-telling and depth of analysis that is unparalleled on the network. Flashpoints is a unique program that has done an exquisite job of bringing together a broad range of otherwise-silenced issues and voices to the public.
As frequent guests on Flashpoints and other shows on KPFA, we intend to refuse to be interviewed or to allow prior work to be aired, or to give permission for our books, CDs, DVDs and other work to be used as premiums during KPFA”s fund drives until Flashpoints is restored completely.
This means that Nora Barrows-Friedman must be reinstated to a full-time position, and that Flashpoints be provided with a permanent Technical Producer.
In a time of great despair, and as truth is crippled as wars expand, people have fewer sources of alternative information with which to act. Flashpoints has always been a beacon of media democracy and political courage, and we expect KPFA and Pacifica to do the right thing by supporting this essential program instead of destroying it.
Please write KPFA management at firstname.lastname@example.org to let them know how much you appreciate independent reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and demand that they keep Flashpoints on the air.