Thursday, April 13, 2000
There are no government overseers in the editorial offices of the daily papers, blacking out sensitive facts. Censorship in the mainstream media, say Project Censored's founders, operates on a more insidious level. Hard-hitting stories don't usually get spiked--they never get written at all. "Censored" is a tricky word.
"Sometimes they say the story's too complex for the American public to understand," says Carl Jensen, founder of Project Censored. "Sometimes it's lazy reporters. Sometimes it's blatantly threatening to the corporations that own the media. You won't find NBC doing stories on nuclear power when General Electric signs their paychecks."
And as media outlets are consolidated into fewer and fewer hands, one concern becomes increasingly important: the bottom line. Media companies more interested in profits than in content find they can save money by cutting editorial budgets.
"As the consolidation of the media increases, financial support for newsrooms shrinks," Jensen says. "And with fewer dollars, you can't tell a writer, 'This is a big story, you can take six months.' That's just not viable."
This year's list of censored or under-reported stories is distinctly international in focus: In half the stories on the top 10, the action takes place outside the U.S. Indeed, one of the top 10 stories, from the American Journalism Review, details the decline in foreign coverage in the American press.
reveals the stories that should have been on the front pages in 1999.