Censored 2008: The top 25 Censored Stories of 2006-07


Luckily for the rest of us, while the US continues to dominate as the world’s sole superpower, an extensive homegrown resistance, informed and energised by a vibrant and growing alternative media including ZNet, FAIR and Common Dreams, works tirelessly to expose and oppose the crimes of their own country.

 

Since it’s inception in 1976, Project Censored has been at the heart of this movement, highlighting the systematic deficiencies of the US mainstream media.

 

Run by academics and students from the department of sociology at Sonoma State University in California, the project annually publishes a list of the 25 most important news stories "that have been overlooked or underplayed by the corporate media."

 

The project’s name is something of a red herring. Rather than viewing media bias as a result of overt or direct interference, Project Censored leans heavily on the structural critique offered by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky’s propaganda model, noting how the corporate nature of the mainstream media limits "what will become news in society" by setting the parameters of acceptable debate.

 

Censored 2008 includes many stories that will be a cause for concern for people the world over, such as the increasing US military presence in Africa, the neoliberal assault on India and the encroaching police state in the land of the brave.

 

Of course, mainstream critics will argue that these stories didn’t get adequate coverage because they were not newsworthy or backed up by enough evidence and, while the vast majority of the 25 reports easily pass this test, arguably, the inclusion of "9/11 conspiracy theories" irreparably damages the project’s credibility.

 

In addition, the book contains a variety of media-related essays, including an illuminating content analysis of war photographs from Iraq and Afghanistan published in US newspapers and an interesting commentary on the Mubarak government’s crackdown on bloggers in Egypt.

 

Unfortunately, other essays promise much but disappoint with their scattergun approach and often ill-thought-out arguments. For example, in his enticingly named chapter Perception Management, Pacifica Foundation executive director Greg Guma perceptively informs readers that "just because something … gets into the papers or on TV, doesn’t make it completely true." You heard it here first, folks.

 

Although the quality of analysis often leaves a lot to be desired, by highlighting what would otherwise be unknown news stories and celebrating the accomplishments of independent journalists, Censored 2008 provides an indispensable service – not just to activists, but to everyone who follows the news.

 

 

Published by Seven Stories Press, priced £11.99.  Ian Sinclair is a freelance journalist based in London, England. [email protected]. 

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