Censorship in the United States today is seldom deliberate. Instead it comes stealthily under the heading Missed Opportunities. Mega-merged corporate media are predominantly interested in the entertainment value of news and the maintenance of high audience viewing/reading levels that lead to profitable advertising sales. Non-sexy or complex stories tend to receive little attention within these corporate media systems.
A recent Pew Research Center poll showed more than 77 percent of all journalists admitted that news stories that were perceived as important but dull are sometimes ignored. More than a third polled stated that news stories that would hurt the financial interests of their news organization often or sometimes go unreported.
This structural arrangement is what censorship looks like in America today: not usually a deliberate killing of stories by official censors, but rather a subtle system of information suppression in the name of corporate profit and self interest. Corporate media censorship is an attack on democracy itself. It undermines the very fabric of our society by creating a highly entertained but poorly informed electorate.
Given that corporate media systemically censor important news stories, it is not hard to understand why more than 50 million eligible voters do not bother to vote. Without essential knowledge of important political issues, voter apathy is rampant, and political parties may tend to appear different, but act alike.
Sonoma State University Project Censored students and staff screened several thousand stories last year. 700 of these were selected for evaluation by faculty and community evaluators. Our 89 Faculty/community evaluators are experts in their individual fields and they rate the stories for credibility and national importance. About 125 stories each year make the final voting level. Project-wide voting of some 150+ people establishes which 25 of the stories will be listed in our annual book Censored 2001.
THE TOP TEN MOST CENSORED STORIES FOR 2000
1. World Bank and Multinational Corporations Seek to Privatize Water
Global consumption of water is doubling every 20 years and multinational corporations are trying to monopolize water supplies around the world.
WINNERS: International Forum on Globalization: Special Report: The Global Water Crisis and the Commodification of the World’s Water Supply by Maude Barlow; Just Add Water by Jim Shultz, In These Times; Water Fallout: Bolivians Battle Globalization by Jim Shultz, Canadian Dimension; Monsanto’s Billion-Dollar Water Monopoly Plans by Vandana Shiva and Water; Fallout by Jim Shultz, San Francisco Bay Guardian; Trouble on Tap by Daniel Zoll, and The Earth Wrecker by Pratap Chatterjee.
2. OSHA Fails to Protect U.S. Workers
Each year, about 6,000 workers die on the job from accidents and another 50,000 to 70,000 workers die annually from "occupationally acquired diseases and OSHA is not capable of effectively overseeing U.S. workplaces.
WINNER: The Progressive, Losing Life and Limb on the Job by Christopher D. Cook
3. U.S. Army’s Psychological Operations Personnel Worked at CNN
From June 1999 to March 2000 military specialists in ‘psychological operations worked in CNN’s Southeast TV bureau and radio division.
WINNER: Counterpunch, CNN and PSYOPS by Alexander Cockburn
4. Did the U.S. Deliberately Bomb the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade?
Elements within the CIA may have deliberately targeted the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, without NATO approval.
WINNERS: In These Times, A Tragic Mistake? by Joel Bleifuss and Mission Implausible by Seth Ackerman; Pacific News, Reports Showing U.S. Deliberately Bombed Chinese Embassy Deliberately Ignored by U.S. Media, by Yoichi Shimatsu; Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, NY Times on Chinese Embassy Bombing: Nothing to Report.
5. U.S. Taxpayers Underwrite Global Nuclear Power Plant Sales
The U.S. tax-supported Export-Import Bank is backing the overseas activities of U.S. nuclear contractors such as Westinghouse, Bechtel, and General Electric
WINNER: The Progressive, Pushing the Nuclear Plants: A U.S. Agency Hooks Foreign Clients by Ken Silverstein and Ian Urbina
6. International Report Blames U.S. and Others for Genocide in Rwanda
A report released by a panel affiliated with the Organization for African Unity charges Bill Clinton and his administration allowed the genocide of 500,000 to 800,000 people in Rwanda in 1994
WINNERS: Alternet, Loyal Opposition: Clinton Allowed Genocide by David Corn; CovertAction Quarterly, The Role of the U.S. Military by Ellen Ray
7. Independent Study Points to Dangers of Genetically Altered Foods
The actual process of genetic alteration itself may cause damage to mammalian digestive and immune systems.
WINNERS: In These Times, No Small (Genetic) Potatoes by Joel Bleifuss; Extra! Genetic Gambling by Karen Charman; Multinational Monitor, Don’t Ask, Don’t know by Ben Lilliston.
8. Drug Companies Influence Doctors and Health Organizations to Push Meds
Pharmaceutical companies are reaping big profits by promoting forced drug use through programs at the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.
WINNERS; Washington Monthly, Drug Rush by Stephen Pomper; MOJO Wire Magazine, Prozac.org by Ken Silverstein; Dendron #43, NAMI: The Story Behind the Story by David Oaks; Networker, Exposing the Mythmakers, by Barry Duncan, Scott Miller, Jacqueline Sparks.
9. EPA Plans to Disburse Toxic/Radioactive Wastes into Denver’s Sewage System
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to pump toxic waste water into Denver’s sewer system.
WINNER: The Progressive, Plutonium Pancakes by Will Fantle
10. Silicon Valley Uses Immigrant Engineers to Keep Salaries Low
High-skilled H1-B immigrant workers in Silicon Valley are being exploited by Silicon Valley employers.
WINNERS: Labor Notes, Immigrants Find High-tech Servitude in Silicon Valley; Washington Free Press, Silicon Valley Sweatshops by David Bacon
Peter Phillips is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and Director of Project Censored. He can be reached at email@example.com, or Sociology Department/Project Censored, Sonoma State University, 1801 East Cotati Ave, Rohnert Park, CA 94928; (707) 664-2588