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The 25 Most
Courtesy St Louis Journalism Review

Corporate concentration in the media has been chosen as one of the 25 Best Censored Stories of 1979. The list is compiled annually by Project Censored, a media research group at Sonoma State University in California. To qualify, a story must have received minimal media coverage in relation to its potential significance (see sidebar).

The media ownership question placed twelfth in the list of 25 best-censored stories, with jurors dividing it into two issues: the growth of newspaper monopolies; and the increasing number of official linkages between newspapers and large corporations.

The other media story to make the list of 25 highlighted the PBS network's censorship of public broadcasting to accommodate oil industry revenues.

In an article accompanying the list, the St. Louis Journalism Review noted that only 40 of the 1,500 American cities with daily newspapers have competing newspaper managements while "competitive" newspapers in at least 22 cities have merged their non-editorial operations such as advertising, printing and business.

Columbia Journalism Review was cited for publishing the results of a study showing that most directors of America's 25 largest newspaper companies also have directorates on the business, private and public institutions the papers are supposed to cover.

The PBS network was shown to have rejected labour union funding of a planned TV series on labour history, while accepting money from GM, Merrill Lynch and, of course, the oil companies for various shows on private enterprise. PBS president Larry Grossman remarked, "We get nervous when the first money in is money from labour unions. People will look at the long list of unions in the underwriters' credits and accuse us of selling out."

The number one "best censored" story was Corporate Crime of the Century, an expose of American corporate exploitation of Third World countries through practices such as selling drugs, chemicals and pesticides that have been banned in the U.S. and may be stale-dated or untested. The article, published in the November 1979 issue of Mother Jones, has also won a National Magazine Award for excellence in reporting.

A synopsis of each of the remaining "best censored" stories follows. The stories are listed in descending order of importance.

The Real Iranian Story: U.S. involvement in Iran prior to the hostage seizure.

U.S.  Guilty:  An  international jury found the U.S. is guilty of human rights violations at home, particularly in the prison system.

Sweatshops: Corporate use of Third World factories as an escape from high labour costs and stringent health and safety regulations,  but a contributor to U.S. national unemployment.

Occupational Disease: The  100,000 deaths in the workplace attributable each year to new and untested chemicals used in industrial products and processes.

The Worst Nuclear Spill: Contamination of a 250-acre tract of land in New Mexico by 100-million gallons of radioactive water containing uranium wastes.

Tragedy in East Timor: American participation in human rights violations in East Timor that rival those in Cambodia.

PBS: The Oil Network: Why the public broadcasting network deserves that title.

The Business Roundtable: A low profile but highly influential group of Fortune 500 business executives that constitutes a secret lobby.

Ghost Bank: Transactions of an obscure  U.S.  government bank with $65-billion in loans, far more than the total outstanding loans of the world's largest private bank, the Bank of America.

Government Aids Monopoly: U.S. Veterans Administration role in perpetuating obsolete wheelchair design and encouraging  poor  quality  standards by supporting the world's largest wheelchair manufacturer.

News Monopolies and Interlocking Directorates: Mergers and corporate connections in the newspaper industry.

The Six Oil Crises: A historical perspective to the drive for increased oil prices, particularly how the 1973-74 crisis was fuelled by the Shah/Kissinger/David Rockefeller connection.

The CIA in Chile: The CIA's direct role in the overthrow and murder of former president Salvatore Allende.

Carter Cover-up: President Carter's role in precipitating the Iranian hostage crisis.

No Escape from Acid Rain: Special interest groups continue to lobby against regulations that could curb the disastrous environmental effects of acid rain.

• Schools' increasing censorship of literary classics and news magazines is the Censorship Growing story

Missile Mania: A thorough venting of the controversy surrounding the MX missile system, a $33-billion project.

Corporate Payola: the extent of kickback bribes and fraud star in the corporate world.

Genetic Diversity Threatened: Little-known legislation that could lead to fewer vegetable varieties and greater dependence on pesticides.

Washington's Secret Plans for the Draft were detailed long before the public debate on reviving the draft.

• The tobacco industry's powerful lobby is blamed in the story topic Why no Self-Extinguishing Cigarette?

The Full Moon Story: The power the Unification Church wields through its various front groups.

Nuclear Power: Official secrecy, cover-up and misinformation in a variety of nuclear industry mishaps from the Three Mile Island leak to the death of Karen Silkwood.

The Male/Female Income Gap: An examination of what has happened to salaries since the U.S. passed an Equal Pay Act in 1963. 

Criteria used by Project Censored

Here are the criteria used by the researchers to select the top 25 most censored stories from among hundreds submitted:

The amount of coverage the story received relative to its potential significance, must be minimal (determined in part through the New York Times Index and the Reader's Guide to Periodicals). The potential effects of the story must be of major significance — a matter of life and death; potentially affecting large number of people; etc. — as opposed to being of a trivial concern.

The story should concern a subject that should be known by a majority of the people. The story should present a clear, easily understandable concept backed by solid documentation and reliable sources as opposed to a tangled web of undocumented claims from questionable sources.

The scope of the story should be national or international in terms of its impact as opposed to local or regional. The story should be timely, contemporary, and on-going as opposed to historic. The exposure of the story through Project Censored should help provoke serious journalists and media managers to further explore and publicize the subject of the story.

The researchers are members of a sociology seminar class in mass communications at Sonoma State University, California. Project Censored is headed by Sonoma associate professor Carl Jensen.

The top 25 are handed over to a U.S.-wide panel of jurors for ranking.  


 Published in Sources, Winter 1981 

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