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Censored 1999 :

The Top 25 Censored News Stories of 1998

 

Introduction

Threats to U.S. sovereignty through secret "Multinational Agreement on Investment" Top Project Censored's 1998 list of 10 most censored stories.

ROHNERT PARK, CALIF - Some developments in the course of history have such potential to impact nations and humans that it would be irresponsible to ignore them. Yet few mainstream news organizations have reported on the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), which would set in place a vast series of protections for foreign investment. According to reports in the alternative press, the MAI would threaten national sovereignty by giving corporations near equal rights to nations. This agreement has the potential to place profits ahead of human rights and social justice, and that is why our judges named this story the No.1 censored or under reported story of 1998.

The stories, plus timely articles and reviews a resource guide are included in the new Project Censored Yearbook: Censored 1998: The News That Didn't Make the News. [For review copies, contact Seven Stories Press, 212-995-0908
]

 

1. Secret International Trade Agreement Undermines The Sovereignty of Nations

Some developments in the course of History have such potential to impact nations and humans that it would be irresponsible to ignore them. Yet few mainstream news organizations have reported on the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), which would set in place a vast series of protections for foreign investment. According to reports in the alternative press, the MAI would threaten national sovereignty by giving corporations near equal rights to nations. This agreement has the potential to place profits ahead of human rights and social justice, and that is why our judges named this story the No.1 censored or under reported story of 1998 MAI would thrust the world economy much closer to a system where international corporate capital would hold free reign over the democratic values and socioeconomic needs of people. The MAI will also have devastating effects on a nation's legal, environmental and cultural sovereignty. It will force countries to relax or nullify human, environmental and labor protection to attract investment and trade. Necessary measures such as food subsidies, control of land speculation, agrarian reform and health and environmental standards can be challenged as "illegal" under the MAI. This same illegality is extended to community control of forests, local bans on use of pesticides, clean air standards, limits on mineral, gas and oil extraction, and bans on toxic dumping.

Sources: IN THESE TIMES, "Building the Global Economy," January 11, 1998, by Joel Bleifuss; DEMOCRATIC LEFT, "MAI Ties," Spring 1998, by Bill Dixon; TRIBUNE DES DRIOTS HUMAINS, "Human Rights or Corporate Rights?" April 1998, Volume 5, No.s 1-2, "Giving The World Away" by Elaine Weinreb, Vol 27, No 11 'ECONEWS' December 1997.

 

2. Chemical Corporations Profit Off Breast Cancer

In one of the more cynical examples of corporate profit-making ingenuity, leaders in cancer treatment and information are the same chemical companies that also produce carcinogenic products. Breast Cancer Awareness Month, initiated in 1985 by the chemical conglomerate Imperial Chemical Industries, currently called Zeneca Pharmaceuticals, reveals an uncomfortably close connection between the chemical industry and the cancer research establishment. As the controlling sponsor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM), Zeneca is able to approve--or veto-any promotional or informational materials, posters, advertisements, etc. that BCAM uses. The focus is strictly limited to information regarding early detection and treatment, with an avoidance of the topic of prevention. Critics have begun to question why.

With revenues of $14 billion, Zeneca is among the world's largest manufacturers of pesticides, plastics, and pharmaceuticals. Zeneca was instrumental in convincing the FDA to approve tamoxifen as a ñprevention" measure to reduce the incidence of breast cancer in healthy women at risk. However, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer considers tamoxifen a "probable human carcinogen."

Sources: RACHEL'S ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH WEEKLY, "The Truth About Breast Cancer," Dec. 4, 1997, by Peter Montague; THE GREEN GUIDE, "Profiting Off Breast Cancer" Oct. 1998, by Allison Sloan and Tracy Baxter.

 

3. Monsanto's Genetically Modified Seeds Threaten World Production

Over the 12,000 years that humans have been farming, a rich tradition of seed saving has developed. Men and women choose seeds from the plants that are best adapted to their own locale and trade them within the community, enhancing crop diversity and success rates. All this may change in the next four to five years. Monsanto Corporation has been working to consolidate the world seed market, and is now poised to introduce new genetically engineered seeds that will produce only infertile seeds at the end of the farming cycle. Farmers will no longer be able to save seeds from year to year, and will be forced to purchase new seeds from Monsanto each year.

For the first time in history, research is being done for the benefit of corporations, sometimes in direct opposition to farmers' interests. It is noteworthy that the USDA stands to earn 5% royalties of net sales if this technology is commercialized. Historically the USDA has received government money for research aimed at benefitting farmers, but recently the USDA has been turning more and more often to private companies for funding.

Terminator plants, if introduced on a wide scale, will effectively constrict worldwide crop diversity by preventing farmers from engaging in the seed selection and cross breeding that has, for thousands of years, given them the ability to adapt crops to local conditions.

Sources: MOJO WIRE Title: "A Seedy Business"
http://www.motherjones.com/news-Wire/broydo.html
Date: April 7, 1998, by Leora Broydo; THIRD WORLD RESURGENCE #92,
"New Patent Aims to Prevent Farmers From Saving Seed," by Chakravarthi Raghavan EARTH ISLAND JOURNAL Title: "Terminator Seeds Threaten an End to Farming," Fall 1998, by Hope Shand and Pat Mooney ; THE ECOLOGIST, "Monsanto: A Checkered History" and Sept./Oct. 1998, Vol. 28, No. 5, by Brian Tokar, The Pesticide Action Network, "Revolving Doors: Monsanto and the Regulators," Jennifer Ferrara (www.panna.org/panna) newsletter Global Pesticide Campaigner Vol 8, No 2."'Terminator Technology' Prevents Farmers from Saving Seeds," June 1998.

 

4. Recycled Radioactive Metals May Be In Your Home

Under special government permits, "decontaminated" radioactive metal is being sold to manufacture everything from knives and forks and belt buckles to zippers, eyeglasses, dental fillings and IUDS. The Department of Energy (DOE), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the radioactive metal processing industry are pushing for new regulations that would relax current standards and dispense with the need for special radioactive recycling licensing. By one estimate, the DOE disposed of 7,500 tons of these troublesome metals in 1996 alone. The new standard being sought would allow companies to recycle millions of tons of low-level radioactive metal a year while raising the acceptable levels of millirems (mrems), a unit of measure that estimates the damage radiation does to human tissue.

By the NRC's own estimate, the proposed standards could cause 100,000 cancer fatalities in the United States alone. While the DOE waits for new standards to be released,"hot metal" is being marketed to other countries. Three major U.S. oil companies, Texaco, Mobil and Phillips, shipped 5.5 million pounds of radioactive scrap metal to China in 1993. In June 1996, Chinese officials stopped a U.S. shipment of 78 tons of radioactive scrap metal that exceeded China's safety limit, some of it by thirty-fold. As of January 1998, 178 buildings in Taiwan containing 1,573 residential apartments had been identified as radioactive. Radioactive recycled metal has shown up in domestic markets as well. Source: THE PROGRESSIVE, "Nuclear Spoons," October 1998, by Anne-Marie Cusac.

 

5. U.S. Weapons Of Mass Destruction Linked To The Deaths Of A Half A Million Children

For the past seven years, the United States has supported sanctions against Iraq that have taken the lives of more Iraqi citizens than did the war itself. The Iraqi people are being punished for their leader's reticence to comply fully with U.S.-supported UN demands "to search every structure in Iraq for weapons of mass destruction." Ironically, 1994 U.S. Senate findings uncovered evidence that U.S. firms supplied at least some of the very biological material that the U.N. inspection teams are now seeking. Although the United States defames the Iraqi government for damaging the environment and ignoring U.N. Security Council resolutions, it has itself engaged in covert wars in defiance of the World Court, and left behind a swath of ecological disasters in its continuing geopolitical crusade. Blum considers the U.S. demands both excessive and hypocritical. A 1994 U.S. Senate panel report indicated that between 1985 and 1989, U.S. firms supplied microorganisms needed for the production of Iraq's chemical and biological warfare. The Senate panel wrote: "It was later learned that these microorganisms exported by the United States were identical to those the United Nations inspectors found and removed from the Iraqi biological warfare program." Blum writes that shipments included biological agents for anthrax, botulism, and c-coli. The shipments were cleared even though it was known at the time that Iraq had already been using chemical and possibly biological warfare since the early 1980s. The real significance of "Made in America" is not only that the U.S. and its allies played a significant role in arming Iraq with weapons of mass destruction, but that those companies and politicians who were responsible for this lucrative but deadly policy were never held accountable.

Sources: SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN, "Made in America,â Feb. 25, 1998, by Dennis Bernstein; I.F. MAGAZINE, "Punishing Saddam or the Iraqis, March/April 1998, by Bill Blum; SPACE AND SECURITY NEWS, "Our Continuing War Against Iraq," May 1998, by the Most Rev. Dr. Robert M. Bowman, Lt. Col., USAF (retired).

 

6. United States Nuclear Program Subverts U.N.'s Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

When scientists in India conducted a deep underground nuclear test on May 11, 1998, it was seen as a violation of the United Nations' Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) even though that country did not sign the document. But two months earlier, when the United States carried out an underground test, it went largely unnoticed by the American media. Code-named "Stagecoach," the U.S. experiment called for the detonation of a 227-pound nuclear bomb at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Nevada Test Site which is co-managed by corporate superpowers Bechtel, Lockheed Martin and Johnson Controls. While perceived as a hostile act by many nations, US officials claim that since it was a "subcritical" test -- that means no nuclear chain reaction was maintained -- it was "fully consistent with the spirit and letter of the CTBT." Some Foreign leaders believe that "Stagecoach" was designed to test the effectiveness of U.S. weapons in case they are ever needed again. The European Parliament issued an official warning to the U.S. declaring that further experiments might prompt other nations to engage in full-scale testing. Some Chinese and Japanese officials also criticized the United States, calling for America to stop "skirting its responsibility for arms reduction." Underground experiments aren't the U.S. Government's only method of subverting the Treaty, says The Nation. In July 1993, Clinton introduced the Stockpile Stewardship Program (SSP) which allots $45 billion over the next 10 years to finance new research facilities. While the CTBT prohibits the "qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons," this program will fund the building of nuclear accelerators, giant X-ray machines, and the largest glass laser in the world. In defending the experiment to the press, Russian officials pointed to the U.S. test as proof that subcritical tests of nuclear weapons are permissible under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). There are no signs that either country will change its policy on subcritical nuclear testing. Nor does the DOE appear ready to end other activities in the Stockpile Stewardship Program (SSP) that violate the principals and goals of the CTBT.

Source: THE NATION, "Virtual Nukes-When is a Test Not a Test?" June 15,1998, by Bill Mesler.

 

7. Gene Transfers Linked To Dangerous New Diseases

All the signs are pointing toward a major crisis in public health as both emergent and recurring diseases reach new heights of antibiotic resistance. At least 30 new diseases have emerged over the past 20 years, and familiar infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, cholera, and malaria are returning with vigor. By 1990 nearly every common bacterial species had developed some degree of resistance to drug treatment, many to multiple antibiotics. A major contributing factor, in addition to anti- biotic overuse, just might be the transfer of genes between unrelated species of animals and plants which takes place with genetic engineering, according to Third World Resurgence. Worse yet, regulators are considering a further relaxation of the already lax safety rules regarding this unpredictable and inherently hazardous field. The technology of genetic engineering, also called biotechnology, uses manipulation, replication, and transference techniques to insert genes "horizontally" to connect species which otherwise cannot interbreed. Normal genetic barriers and defense mechanisms, which degrade or inactivate foreign genes that they recognize as dangerous to the self, are in this way broken down. Used to facilitate horizontal gene transfer, genetic engineering can also result in antibiotic-resistant genes, which can inadvertently spread and recombine to generate new drug and antibiotic resistant pathogens. This, say the authors, has occurred. Horizontal gene transfer and subsequent genetic recombination may have been responsible for bacterial strains which caused a 1992 cholera outbreak in India, and for a streptococcus epidemic in Tayside in 1993. Antibiotic resistant genes spread readily between human beings, as well as from bacteria inhabiting the gut of farm animals to human beings. Antibiotics can create the very conditions that facilitate the spread of antibiotic resistance because they can increase the frequency of horizontal gene transfer ten to 10,000-fold. Biotechnology firms have billions of dollars invested in these new technologies, and are concerned that their speculation bubble may burst, due to public outrage, before they can recoup their investments. Not surprisingly, then, there currently is no independent investigation into the relationship between genetic engineering and the emergent and recurrent diseases.

Sources: THIRD WORLD RESURGENCE, #92, "Sowing Diseases, New and Old," by Mae-Wan Ho, and Terje Traavik; THE ECOLOGIST, "The Biotechnology Bubble," May/June 1998, Vol. 28, No. 3, by Mae-Wan Ho, Hartmut Meyer and Joe Cummins.

 

8. No Mercy For Women As Catholic Hospital Mergers

THREATEN REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: Nationwide hospital mergers with Roman Catholic church medical facilities are threatening women's access to abortions, sterilization, birth control, in vitro fertilization, fetal tissue experimentation, and assisted suicide. In 1996, over 600 hospitals merged with Catholic institutions in 19 states. The merged partnerships extend from Portland, Maine, to Oakland, Calif., and these mergers and partnerships with hospitals and health maintenance organizations (HMOs) are resulting in the impairment of reproductive health care rights across the nation. Ms. gives the example of Kingston Hospital in Rhinebeck, N.Y. Kingston once performed about I00 abortions a year, but if merged with Benedictine Hospital, a Roman Catholic facility, it will provide the service for medical reasons only. No hospital in the community would provide birth control counseling or family planning services. Collaborations between secular and Roman Catholic hospitals have made the Roman Catholic Church the largest private health care provider in the nation. Why would they want to join forces with secular hospitals? "The big money in the hospital comes when you have a closed system of doctors, HMO'S, and hospitals all feeding each other in a closed loop," writes Dinsmore. Though activists object to partnerships between religious and secular hospitals that result in the ban of reproductive services, they are sometimes willing to accept lesser collaborations, such as joint ventures or affiliations, in which it's more likely religious directives won't be imposed. In response to community pressure, some health care agreements have resulted in independently run women's health clinics. Some activists, however, say it's a lousy solution because separate women's health clinics are often easier targets for anti-abortion extremists.

Source: Ms.,"Women's Health: A Casualty of Hospital Merger Mania?" July/August 1998, BY Christine Dinsmore

 

9. U.S. Tax Dollars Support Death Squads In Chiapas

On December 22, 1997, in the village of Acteal, in the highlands of the Mexican state of Chiapas, 45 local men, women and children were shot as they were praying. Their bodies were dumped into a ravine. Elsewhere throughout the state of Chiapas, unarmed women face down armies "with fists held high in rebellion and babies slung from their shoulder." In Jalisco, more than a dozen young men were kidnaped and tortured. One of them, Salvador Jimenez Lopez, drowned in his own blood when his tongue was cut out. The group responsible for these and other atrocities are allegedly members of the Mexican Army Airborne Special Forces Groups (GAFE)-a paramilitary unit trained by U.S. Army Special Forces. Mexican soldiers are being trained with U.S. tax dollars to fight an alleged" War on Drugs, but peasants activists say the real motive driving the U.S.-supported war is the protection of foreign investment rights in Mexico. "In Chiapas, U.S. tax money pays for weapons and military ... to destroy a movement for social justice ... . The United States transfers aid to the Mexican military in cash, weapons and comterinsurgency training. The 1998 Clinton administration budget earmarked more than $21 million dollars for the Mexican Drug War, including $12 million for Pentagon training in "procedures for fighting drug traffic." Anti-drug effort seems to continue to focus on the Chiapas region where 80 percent of the communities are in conflict zones. According to the Zapatismo Papers (Wood), acts of inhumanity by GAFE were led by Lt. Col. Julian Guerrero Barrios, a 1981 graduate of the U.S.-sponsored School of Americas (SOA). Although it remains unknown how many of the 15 soldiers charged in the Acteal incident were trained at U.S. bases, the Pentagon has admitted that some of the soldiers arrested were U.S. trained.

Sources: SLINGSHOT, "Mexico's Military: Made in the USA," Summer 1998, by Slingshot collective; DARK NIGHT FIELD NOTES/ZAPATISMO, "Bury My Heart At Acteal," by Darrin Wood.

 

10. Environmental Student Activists Gunned Down On Chevron Oil Facility In Nigeria

For three days last may, 121 youths from 42 different communities had gathered to oppose the environmental destruction brought on by Chevron's oil extraction practices. For decades, the people of the Niger Delta have been protesting the destruction of their wet lands. Discharges into the creeks and waterways have left the region a dead land, resulting in the Niger Delta becoming one of the most heavily polluted regions in the world. The students claim they had voiced their concerns many times and had scheduled a number of meetings with the company, but the meetings had been repeatedly canceled by Chevron. As a next step, the students organized the protest around a Chevron barge in order to draw Chevron's attention to the goal of environmental justice. Student demonstrators had peacefully occupied an anchored barge in a protest since May 25. According to student leader, Bola Oyinbo, approximately 20 of the 121 students surrounding the barge in small boats went on board to meet with a Nigerian Naval officer who was working for Chevron. Oyinbo stated that the students wanted to speak to a Mr. Kirkland, Chevrons managing director. Although the director never came, other Chevron officials did arrive the next day and promised to set up a meeting with the students at the end of May. The students agreed to leave the barge on May 28 in order to attend the proposed meeting. On May 28,1998, Nigerian National soldiers were helicoptered by Chevron employees to the Chevron owned oil facility off the coast of Nigeria where after an onslaught of attacks, two students were dead and several others wounded. Sources: ERA ENVIRONMENTAL TESTIMONIES, "Chevron in Nigeria," July 10, 1998, by Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria; PACIFICA RADIO, "Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria's Oil Dictatorship" PacificaRadio/www.pacifica.org, September 1998, by Amy Goodman and Jeremy Scahill.

 

*Censored 1998 Judge

Dr. Donna Allen, president of the Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press; founding editor of Media Report to Women; co-editor: Women Transforming Communications: Global Perspectives (1996) Ben Bagdikian,* professor emeritus and former dean, Graduate School of Journalism, University of California-Berkeley; former editor at the Washington Post; author of Media Monopoly, and five other books and numerous articles RICHARD BARNET, author of 15 books, and numerous articles for The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, and Progressive SUSAN FALUDI, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist; author of Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women DR. GEORGE GERBNER, dean emeritus Annenberg School of Communications, University of Pennsylvania; founder of the Cultural Environment Movement; author of Invisible Crises: What Conglomerate Media Control Means for America and the World, and Triumph and the Image: The Media's War in the Persian Gulf JUAN GONZALEZ, Award-winning journalist and columnist for the New York Daily News AILEEN C. HERNANDEZ, President of Urban Consulting in San Francisco; Former commissioner on the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission DR. CARL JENSEN, founder and former director of Project Censored; author, Censored: The News That Didn't Make the News and Why, 1990 to 1996, and 20 Years of Censored News (1997) Sut Jhally, professor of communications, and executive director of The Media Education Foundation, University of Massachusetts Nicholas Johnson,* professor, College of Law, University of Iowa; former FCC Commissioner (1966-1973); author of How To Talk Back To Your Television Set Rhoda H. Karpatkin, president, Consumers Union, non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports Charles L. Klotzer, editor and publisher emeritus, St. Louis Journalism Review NANCY KRANICH, associate dean of the New York University Libraries, and member of the board of directors of the American Library Association Judith Krug, director, Office for Intellectual Freedom, American Library Association; editor; Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom; Freedom to Read Foundation News; and the Intellectual Freedom Action News Frances Moore LappÈ, co-founder and co-director, Center for Living Democracy William Lutz, professor of English, Rutgers University; former editor of The Quarterly Review of Doublespeak; author of The New Doublespeak: Why No One Knows What Anyone's Saying Anymore (1966) JULIANNE MALVEAUX, Ph.D., economist and columnist, King Features and Pacifica radio talk show host, Jack L. Nelson,* professor, Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University; author of 16 books and over 150 articles including Critical Issues in Education (1996) Michael Parenti, political analyst, lecturer, and author of several books including: Inventing Reality; The Politics of News Media; Make Believe Media; The Politics of Entertainment; and numerous other works Herbert I. Schiller, professor emeritus of communication, University of California, San Diego; lecturer; author of several books including Culture, Inc. and Information Inequality (1996), BARBARA SEAMAN, lecturer; author of The Doctors' Case Against the Pill, Free and Female, Women and the Crisis in Sex Hormones, and others; co-founder of the National Women's Health Network. , ERNA SMITH, chair of the journalism department at San Francisco State University, author of several studies on mainstream news coverage on people of color, Sheila Rabb Weidenfeld,* president, D.C. Productions, Ltd.; former press secretary for Betty Ford HOWARD ZINN, professor emeritus of political science at Boston University, author of A People's History of the United States, You Can't be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times and numerous other books and articles.
* Indicates having been a Project Censored Judge since its founding in 1976.

 

*Censored 1998 Judges' Comments

Donna Allen, President of the Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press; Founding Editor of Media Report to Women: "It is startling to note that nearly all of these stories are at least partially about damage to our environment, a battle we thought we had won back in the 1960s and 1970s, when we brought the problem to public attention for the first time in history. Obviously that battle is won only as long as we are able to keep before the public the continuing corporate and government/military pollution of our air, water, food, earth, and sky. But can we do that? The real lesson is in what this tells us about our corporate media. They claim it is their job to keep the public informed. Yet, we can see the vital information in these many stories that they almost totally ignored, though it comes from and affects a significant proportion of the public. And, even as they claim to be a "watchdog" on government, we see here their near total lack of coverage of the U.S. military's pollution and other damage to the environment. And again there is the non-coverage of a significant proportion of citizens who are trying to inform the public. Isn't it time we assembled a class action suit to reverse the 1886 Santa Clara Supreme Court decision that held corporations to be "persons" under the First Amendment? We need to return the media to the people, so it serves the citizens it was intended to serve - and not corporate wealth. Only greater equality of communication outreach is going to enable us to get these important facts to the public for corrective action."

Susan Faludi, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist: "For anybody who wondered if the media's "All-Monica-All-the-Time" fixation would have a deleterious effect on the coverage of the news, all you have to do is glance at this past year's Censored list. It's brimming over with uncovered crucial stories which have devastating implications for the world's future health and well-being. I had a very difficult time this year narrowing the list down to the ten most important. They were all important. Many of them shared an underlying story: the disturbing consequences of the rise of a global economy. It's distressing that at the very time the world is going global, the media have narrowed their sights to an Oval Office broom closet."

Carl Jensen, Project Censored Founder and Director Emeritus: "The censored news stories of 1988 confirm, once again, the continued and increasing need for Project Censored. Despite increased criticism and outrage by some media groups and members of the general public, the mainstream media couldn't control themselves in 1998 when it came to junk food news coverage. The near-pornographic coverage of every aspect of President Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky embarrassed real journalists. There was a time when you could not tell the difference between The New York Times and The National Inquirer. Unfortunately, the headlines covering the Clinton affair were often interchangeable between the two publications. The continuing failure of the media to cover critical issues, such as those cited by Project Censored, is highlighted by the reappearance of censored stories over the years. Stories reported in 1998 that had previously been cited by the Project as overlooked issues included pesticides and cancer (1976 & 1980), the fluoridation issue (1991), genetically altered seeds (1987), and the downgrading of radioactive waste levels (1989). It's troubling that we have to continue reminding the national press of the same critical issues that should have been covered much earlier."

Nancy Kranich, Associate Dean of the New York University Libraries: "Reading this year's Project Censored nominations was a pleasant diversion from reading the news-no hint of Monica Lewinsky, impeachment, partisan politics or international monetary crimes. Instead, the stories focused on threats to human life, corporate control, and U.S. domination of world developments. On the one hand, reading these stories was a relief from the daily barrage of political manipulation and sensationalized crime stories. On the other hand, the reality that the grave dangers facing our world are so grossly under reported reminds me that our freedoms and future are threatened by a media caught up in promoting the will of multinational conglomerates whose interests lie more in co-modifying information and maximizing profits than informing the public. As a librarian, I fear the effects of a narrowly-cast published base of information. It is the mission of libraries to provide a broad diversity of sources on all topics from many points of view. Conglomeration in the publishing arena has resulted in fewer and fewer marginal ideas emerging in print. Unfortunately, ideas outside the mainstream rarely appeal to the "infotainment" industry, which reaps rich returns on stories embraced by the marketplace. Libraries mirror society's thinking and culture. They collect what is produced, from commercial and non-profit publishers. If the output of our publishing industry does not include the breadth of ideas and points of view expressed by a highly diverse public, then the institutions collecting the record of our achievements cannot fully reflect the entire array of knowledge so essential to advancing society as well as nourishing individual growth."

William Lutz, Professor of English, Rutgers University: "It is always difficult to spot the really important news when it happens-Sir Alexander Fleming's discovery of penicillin wasn't big news the year it occurred. Yet, over time, Project Censored has demonstrated a remarkable ability to find the really important stories buried beneath the flotsam that passes for news these days. With increasing regularity, we find that a story cited by Project Censored years ago is now recognized as important. So, too, with this year's nominees. I think that a number of stories this year will prove to be among the most significant of the year. Here are the stories that the mainstream news media don't find interesting or entertaining enough, stories that don't lend themselves to sound bites, stories that well-coiffured talking heads don't find "sexy." Instead, Project Censored finds the stories about the people and events that really affect our lives, stories about the corruption of the judicial system, the spread of breast cancer, the control of the world economy by a select few, and much more. Project Censored continues to do the job of the mainstream press, the job that is the essential function of the press in a democracy."

Julianne Malveaux, Economist, Columnist, President and CEO of Last Word Productions, Inc.: "How does one speak truth to power? In the United States, a free press helps articulate the truth. Unfortunately, the majority of the press does not often embrace a description of police brutality, an assault on women's health, or the exploitation and unfair fining of Native American people. The beauty of the Internet, of the alternative press, of the Project Censored process, is that there are ways to lift these truths up and to use them as a stinging indictment of both the ossification of power and the myopia of the mainstream press. Because the United States continues to experience economic expansion, I am especially interested in the question of "expansion for whom?" If this is as good as it gets, why the police brutality, the growth of the prison industrial complex, the abuse of children through the development of toxic toys? There is another set of untold stories that we've ignored here - stories of poverty, the failure of welfare reform, the status of subminimum wage workers, the hostility toward immigrants, and the demonization of the poor. In any case, those economic forces that dictate the difference between Wall Street and Main Street are our nation's greatest untold story. I'd like to see far more focus on the economic trends that represent the ugly underbelly of economic "expansion" as part of the Project Censored report. This year's set of most censored stories touches on some of those economic themes, but more broadly on the issue of speaking truth to power, of shedding light on dark, dirty secrets, some generations old. This year's set of censored stories reminds us to seek out alternative sources of information, and to remember the issue of social, political, and economic bias as we consume mainstream news."

Jack Nelson, Professor Emeritus: "If there is such a thing as a depressing pleasure, it is illustrated in selecting the "10 Best Censored Stories" each year: "Depressing," in that so many important stories are so widely undereported in the mass media, and seem to recur in the packets sent to judges; and "pleasure," in helping to bring visibility to these stories. This year, I selected several stories related to health problems and potential large-scale international public health crises. If information is power, we need to further empower the public to insist on more complete knowledge and monitoring of possible health predicaments. Bring back Upton Sinclair and other Muckrakers!"

Herbert I. Schiller, Professor Emerritus of Communications at the University of California, San Diego: "Individual cases are important, but in my judgment, more important are the processes which produce consequences. These are far more difficult to get at but crucial if popular understanding is to be widened. Several of Project Censored's stories, thankfully, are in this category. The extent of corporate takeover of the present informational/cultural environment is beyond most people's imaginations. This has to be the target of your efforts. Actually, it is exciting to document and analyze the current scene at this starting point. The many pieces of the puzzle come together."

Sheila Rabb Weidenfeld, President of D.C. Productions: "Once again, Project Censored shines a spotlight on stories that are too complex, too intellectually demanding, or too uncomfortable for an affluent country to face. American mainstream journalism's preoccupation with Monica Lewinsky this year has diverted our attention from stories like China's abuse of women, major producers of carcinogenic products who profit from cancer treatment, and the ticking time bomb of the polio vaccine. "Junk food journalism," as Carl Jensen calls it, still rules. Network executives wonder why they continue to lose viewers. It is not the overabundance of news reporting, though between cable and the internet, news/information is available 24 hours a day. It is because people are not getting the news that touches their daily lives."

Howard Zinn, Historian: "I think the censored stories on events abroad, like the massacre at Acteal and Chevron's activities in Nigeria, are especially important because what happens overseas is especially easy to conceal. The selections represent a good balance between issues of foreign policy and domestic matters. What I find particularly flagrant is the absence in the media of historical background to current events. Without that, the public has no way of evaluating what is happening today."

 

 



 



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