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Top Ten Censored Stories of 1989


Following are the top ten "censored" news stories of 1989, as reported by Project Censored director Carl Jensen, professor of Communications Studies at Sonoma State University in California. While there aren't any distinctly Canadian stories in the top ten, the findings probably wouldn't change much were the research conducted here. The bracketed information following each story indicates the media outlet responsible for exposing an issue that was otherwise overlooked or under-reported by national news media.

Global Media Lords Threaten Freedom of Information
Five major media corporations now dominate the world's information markets and they, quite unabashedly, look foreward to the time - perhaps as soon as the turn of the century - when they'll control most of the world's important newspapers, magazines, books, broadcast stations, movies, recordings and video cassettes. (The Nation, June 12/89)

Turning Africa Into The World's Garbage Can
Africa appears destined to become the world's toxic waste dump as international sludge dealers try to dump U.S. and European waste onto at least 15 African countries.
(In These Times, Nov. 8/89)

The Holocaust in Mozambique
A U.S. State Department official has called the attacks by Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO) "one of the most brutal holocausts against ordinary human beings since World War II." More than one million, mostly innocent, people have died to date. RENAMO is reported to be funded by South African sources and right-wing groups in the U.S. and Europe.
(RENAMO Watch, February 1990; Utne Reader, November/December 1989; Mozambique Support Network Newsletter, February 1990)

America's Deceitful War on Drugs
The American government's "war on drugs" is more hype than reality. One of the nation's top narcotics prosecutors quit in frustration last year after State Department officials interfered in his investigations of top people in the cocaine business. A Senate subcommittee revealed that foreign policy interests sidetracked and undercut the supposed war on drugs.
(NBC Nightly News, February 22/89; San Francisco Chronicle, December 1989)

Guatemalan Blood on U.S. Hands
The Bush administration strengthened ties with the oppressive Guatemalan military last year at the same time that human rights violations by the military rose sharply. One unpublicized violation occurred last year when a U.S. citizen, Sister Diana Ortiz, working as a teacher in Guatemala, was kidnapped, tortured and sexually-molested by three men, one of whom was a uniformed Guatemalan police officer. The U.S. State Department failed to register a protest.
(Guatemala Update, February 1990; Guatemala Human Rights Commission/ U.S.A. Jan. 24/90)

Radioactive Waste in the Neighbourhood Landfill
Radioactive waste may be joining old tires, banana peels and other regular garbage at the local landfill if the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the nuclear industry are allowed to implement their little-known plan to reclassify a considerable portion of what is now considered hazardous radioactive waste to "Below Regulatory Concern."
(The Workbook, April/June 1989)

Oliver North & Co. Banned from Costa Rica
In 1989, Oliver North, former U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica Lewis Tambs, Major General Richard Secord, and former CIA station chief in Costa Rica Joseph Fernadez were barred by President Oscar Arias from ever setting foot in Costa Rica again. A Costa Rican congressional commission concluded that the contra re-supply network in Costa Rica, which North co-ordinated from the White House, doubled as a drug smuggling operation.
(Extra!, October/November 1989)

Wall Street Journal Censors Story of CBS Bias
The Wall Street Journal censored a major story by one of its top reporters, Mary Williams Walsh, which exposed how one of the nation's most respected TV news departments, CBS News, broadcast biased news coverage of the Afganistan war to the American people.
(Columbia Journalism Review, January/February 1990; Defense Media Review, March 31/90, May 1990)

PCBs and the Toxic Waste in your Gasoline
The U.S. General Accounting Office, the EPA and the FBI are investigating sophisticated "waste laundering" schemes in which hazardous toxic wastes and solvents, including PCBs, are being mixed with gasoline and diesel and industrial fuel and sold to consumers. Interestingly, a version of this story did make it to our own mainstream press. Jock Ferguson's Globe and Mail series on tainted fuels crossing into Canada earned him honourable mention in this year's Centre for Investigative Journalism Awards.
(Common Cause Magazine, July/August 1989)

The Chicken Industry and the National Salmonella Epidemic
The chicken industry's drive for profits, aided by relaxed inspection practices by the U.S.Department of Agriculture, has led to a national epidemic of 2.5 million cases of samonella poisoning a year, including 500,000 hospitalizations and 9,000 deaths.
(Southern Exposure, Summer 1989)

This article originally appeared in SOURCES, 26th edition, 1990

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