Censored News: What Mass Media Don't Want You To Know - Project Censored Reports
Information access is ostensibly a right that each of us has, and yet every year the mass media sweep important world news under the carpet in favor of sordid gossipy headlines and shady propaganda. Each year, however, Project Censored attempts to redress the balance.
Photo credit: Pep
So while mainstream news media focus their attention on the latest exploits of Paris Hilton and friends, Project Censored is busy noting and reporting on the important stories that never made it to prime time. And there are a lot of them.
Project Censored is a Sonoma University-based initiative currently in its thirty-first year. Each year, twenty-five stories are selected from hundreds of possible candidates, and these stories are gathered and published by the project, giving them the light of day they might otherwise never have seen.
The resultant yearbook Censored - The News That Didn't Make The News is far from trivial in its contents. For while the circus of celebrity scandals and heavily edited propagandist reports from the Middle East dominate our screens, the erosion of civil liberties, growing hunger and homelessness, and even genocide struggle for our attention.
In this round-up and overview of some of the top censored stories of 2007 I take a look at just how much goes unsaid by the mass media, and how much desperately needs saying.
The Top 25 Censored Stories of 2007
You can visit the top 25 censored stories at the Project Censored website. While not presented with any fanfare or flashy graphics, the results are nonetheless captivating. Scrolling through these unspoken stories, it is frankly amazing to think of how they might possibly have made it underneath the radar of the mass media news establishment.
But this is exactly what has happened, and when you see the true gravity or consider the implications of some of the stories gathered together in the report, it is hard to believe that anything short of censorship - a willful casting aside and covering up - has taken place here. Driven by economic incentives, corporate affiliations and towing the official line, mass media news is failing more and more to resemble anything close to reality.
Project Censored sets out to cover stories from the independent and alternative presses, attempting to make sure that stories considered for inclusion fulfill a range of requirements. According to Wikipedia to be included in the yearbook a story should:
- Contain information that the general population has a right and a need to know, but to which it has limited access.
- Be timely, ongoing, and have implications for a significant number of residents of the United States of America.
- Have clearly defined concepts and be backed with solid verifiable documentation.
- Have been published electronically or in print, in a circulated newspaper, journal, magazine, newsletter, or similar publication by a foreign or domestic source.
- Have direct connections and implications for people within the United States of America, possibly including activities US citizens are engaged in abroad.
Wikpedia, Project Censored
Here are five of the stories that were hardly touched on by the mass media over the last year:
Photo credit: Kiel Latham
If you are a regular Master New Media reader, or simply someone that spent a significant amount of time online in the last year, chances are that you might have encountered the issue surrounding Network Neutrality.
Yet, if you relied on mainstream news media to let you know what the problem was, you would have a long wait on your hands.
Very little coverage has been given to the battle between the telecommunication companies, who would bring a tiered system of Internet service into effect, and those that feel that this would effectively privilege quality access to a rich few. Project Censored notes that:
''...despite important legislative proposals and Supreme Court decisions throughout 2005, the issue was almost completely ignored in the headlines until 2006. And, except for occasional coverage on CNBC's Kudlow & Kramer, mainstream television remains hands-off to this day''
So, while Network Neutrality, and the possible end of a web in which all websites stand equal in their right to be heard were being hotly debated online - and in congress - the mass media were very often nowhere to be seen on this globally significant issue. When they did deign to offer any coverage, the issue was clouded by the use of terminology that confused rather than clarified the problem. Project Censored continues in its description:
''Most coverage of the issue framed it as an argument over regulation--but the term "regulation" in this case is somewhat misleading. Groups advocating for "net neutrality" are not promoting regulation of internet content.
What they want is a legal mandate forcing cable companies to allow internet service providers (ISPs) free access to their cable lines (called a "common carriage" agreement). This was the model used for dial-up internet, and it is the way content providers want to keep it. They also want to make sure that cable companies cannot screen or interrupt internet content without a court order.''
The following short video (3:55") lets you know exactly how important this mass media sidelined story really is for anyone hoping to access the Internet, or publish themselves on it:
Video credit: Save The Internet
Genocide in the Congo
Photo credit: Cristina Jeronimo
The bitter truth of where the minerals and raw materials needed to create our laptops and cell phones come from is not something a lot of us want to hear. But one vital component, Columbo-tantalite - aka coltan - is heavily mined in the Congo, the source of 80% of the mineral in the world.
Project Censored reports that:
''...the high-tech boom of the 1990s caused the price of coltan to skyrocket to nearly $300 per pound. In 1996 U.S.-sponsored Rwandan and Ugandan forces entered eastern DRC. By 1998 they seized control and moved into strategic mining areas...
Coltan makes its way out of the mines to trading posts where foreign traders buy the mineral and ship it abroad, mostly through Rwanda. Firms with the capability turn coltan into the coveted tantalum powder, and then sell the magic powder to Nokia, Motorola, Compaq, Sony, and other manufacturers for use in cell phones and other products.
Keith Harmon Snow emphasizes that any analysis of the geopolitics in the Congo, and the reasons for why the Congolese people have suffered a virtually unending war since 1996, requires an understanding of the organized crime perpetrated through multinational businesses. The tragedy of the Congo conflict has been instituted by invested corporations, their proxy armies, and the supra-governmental bodies that support them.''
Millions have died from being worked into the ground, through starvation and displacement, and through military action enforcing the reign of terror and slavery perpetuated by corporations from the developed world. And yet the story goes largely untold, or if told at all, misrepresented as a problem internal to Africa and Africans.
In the following conversation with independent journalist Keith Harman Snow, the truth behind the developed world's role in the slavery and effective genocide in the Congo comes to the surface. For while the mass media often report of African slavery and exploitation, there is never mention that it is effectively orchestrated by companies from developed nations:
US Operatives Torture Detainees to Death
Photo credit: Miguel Ugalde
While occasionally a scandal such as that surrounding Guantanomo Bay comes to the surface in the mainstream media, it is still amazing how much goes unsaid about the shadowy dealings of US operatives in their 'war on terror'.
It is disturbing to think that when solid evidence of multiple homicides by torture in Afghanistan and Iraq came to light that 95% of the national press declined to report on the findings. Project Censored describes the details:
''The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released documents of forty-four autopsies held in Afghanistan and Iraq October 25, 2005. Twenty-one of those deaths were listed as homicides. The documents show that detainees died during and after interrogations by Navy SEALs, Military Intelligence, and Other Government Agency (OGA).
"These documents present irrefutable evidence that U.S. operatives tortured detainees to death during interrogation," said Amrit Singh, an attorney with the ACLU. "The public has a right to know who authorized the use of torture techniques and why these deaths have been covered up."''
And yet while the public may well have the right to know, their so-called representatives in the mass media did not feel it important enough to bring to their attention.
My previous coverage of human rights violations on the part of US operatives included the shocking stories of those effectively abducted, and flown out of the country to locations where torture is acceptable and not contrary to legal ramifications. In the following short clip from the documentary Outlawed: Extraordinary Rendition, Torture and Disappearances in the 'War on Terror' we hear the horrific account of one such victim of abduction and torture.
Dangers of Genetically Modified Food Confirmed
Photo credit: John Peke
The presence of scientific fact is scarcely reason enough for the mass media to consider lending its voice to the extremely frightening facts surfacing around genetically modified foods. As previously written about on these very pages, the contamination of the food chain by genetic modification of crops, and chemical treatment agents is having unnerving effects, and the full extent of the damage done is as yet unknown.
For while the World Trade Organization was busy filing suit against the EU for its effective ban on genetically modified imports, scientists were amassing hard and irrefutable data on the harm that these modified crops can do to our health.
Project Censored notes that among the recent independent research into the impact of GM foods:
- Research by the Russian Academy of Sciences released in December 2005 found that more than half of the offspring of rats fed GM soy died within the first three weeks of life, six times as many as those born to mothers fed on non-modified soy. Six times as many offspring fed GM soy were also severely underweight.
- In November 2005, a private research institute in Australia, CSIRO Plant Industry, put a halt to further development of a GM pea cultivator when it was found to cause an immune response in laboratory mice.
- In the summer of 2005, an Italian research team led by a cellular biologist at the University of Urbino published confirmation that absorption of GM soy by mice causes development of misshapen liver cells, as well as other cellular anomalies.
- In May of 2005 the review of a highly confidential and controversial Monsanto report on test results of corn modified with Monsanto MON863 was published in The Independent/UK.
The facts are out there on the table, and yet as America continues to push GM foods, and export them into the developing world, even as they are starting to be rejected at home, it is worrying to think that the mass media were more concerned about the antics of Anna Nicole Smith.
In the following short film, Contaminated - The New Science of Food, previously the subject of a full feature article, the full extent of the GM food issue comes to light, along with the reasons that this problem is allowed to persist. Billions of investment dollars ride on the ongoing use of agricultural methods that are at best harmful to our health, and at worst the seeds of future famines and who knows what else.
Physicist Challenges Official 9-11 Story
Photo credit: Alfredo & Sonia
The mounting evidence against the official 9-11 story has not gone unreported here at Robin Good's Media Network, where coverage of what the mass media neglected to say and the findings of well qualified scientists have long since been published.
So it perhaps comes as no surprise to find a key scientist refuting the official 9-11 story among this year's Project Censored news items of note. This is the story of Professor Steven E. Jones or Brigham Young University.
Jones, a professor in physics, claims that the official story of the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings stretches the very limits of scientific probability and defies the laws of physics. His investigations into the collapse of the buildings have led to the belief that controlled demolitions were involved in their collapse.
Project Censored notes that:
''In debunking the official explanation of the collapse of the three WTC buildings, Jones cites the complete, rapid, and symmetrical collapse of the buildings; the horizontal explosions (squibs) evidenced in films of the collapses; the fact that the antenna dropped first in the North Tower, suggesting the use of explosives in the core columns; and the large pools of molten metal observed in the basement areas of both towers.''
Yet, in spite of Jones claims and requests for further investigation on purely scientific grounds, his research and ongoing project to lift the lid on the 9-11 catastrophe have been little covered by the mainstream media. Where they have been included in mass media programming, the expected lack of credulity and careful stage managing of how much is said have been much in evidence.
In the following short video clip, extracted from the documentary Improbable Collapse, Professor Jones explains the intensely low probability of the official 9-11 story being true:
In a world in which Britney Spears' bad hair day garners more press attention than the genocide of millions in the Congo, Project Censored remains a necessity. For just as each week Robin Good's Media Network attempts to bring you the news that falls underneath the mass media radar, so Project Censored gathers the year's most startling, under-represented news stories.
In its yearly round up of twenty-five stories the world should know about, Project Censored attempts to cut through the propaganda, hype and gossip to bring truly significant global news events to the public. The five stories highlighted here are taken from the 25 Censored Stories of 2007, each of which is shocking and thought-provoking in its own way.
Thanks to the Internet, alternative news and counter-information has grown significantly since Project Censorship opened its doors some thirty-one years ago. Nevertheless, the ongoing need for an antidote to the mass media white wash has never been more relevant or necessary.
What do you think the 25 censored stories of 2008 will be?
If you would like to read more about Project Censored, you might want to check out the following links;
- The Project Censored website
- COA News interview with Dr. Phillips of Project Censored
- Wikipedia on Project Censored
- Common Dreams on Why Media Ownership Matters
- Third World Traveller archive of Project Censored stories
- Project Censored About page
- Health Supreme coverage of Project Censored
- SF Weekly critique of the project
[ Read more ]
Originally written by Michael Pick for MasterNewMedia and titled: "Censored News: What Mass Media Don't Want You To Know - Project Censored Reports"
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