Peter Phillips & Project Censored (2003). Censored 2004: The Top 25 Censored Stories. (New York: Seven Stories Press). 368 pp. ISBN 1-58322-605-2. $17.95 + shipping (paper). Index, resource guides (for the top 25 stories, "our favorite" Web site E-zines and national/ international news sources, media activist organizations), cartoons by Tom Tomorrow, and details of how to contribute to Project Censored.
The latest in a series going back to 1994, Censored 2004 is bigger and better-and more disturbing-than ever. As regular readers of these volumes know, Censored 2004 is the result of a great deal of work-more than 700 nominated stories were reduced to 25 in a laborious democratic process involving dozens of people. The stories in this volume were largely ignored by the mainstream press in 2002 and 2003-although a few of them have later (and, one might argue, partly as a result of this series) become prominent.
The top ten stories in this volume are the neoconservative plan for global dominance, "homeland security's" threats to civil liberty, the U. S.' illegal removal of pages from an U.N. report on Iraq, Rumsfeld's plan to provoke terrorists, the effort to make unions disappear, closing access to information technology, treaty busting by the United States, U.S./British forces' continued use of depleted uranium weapons despite massive evidence of negative health effects, continuing problems in Afghanistan (poverty, women's rights, and civil disruption), and the new threat of new colonialism in Africa. One must get into the second ten stories before any strictly domestic issues show up-e.g., the legal challenge to corporate "personhood," the U.S. military's cavalier dismissal of environmental issues, Clear Channel's monopoly in some markets, the "charter forest" plan, the Pentagon's increased reliance on private contracts, welfare reform, and what happens to convicted corporations.
But these stories occupy less than a third of the book. Also included are a chapter on important censored stories from prior years, and specific chapters on junk food news and news abuse, the big five media giants, media democracy in action, a comparison of "saving Private Lynch" and the "top gun" president, weapons of mass deception, before and beyond the Iraq war, the USA PATRIOT act, FAIR's third annual "fear and favor" report for 2002, bearing bad news, and why Japan remains a threat to peace and democracy in Asia. The bias of Project Censored toward so-called "alternative" news sources-such as the Pacifica radio network-is open and above board, as well as logical in light of the goals of the Project.
While one may not agree (with the benefit of hindsight or with the advantage of local media that did cover some of these stories or from other standards of "importance" or "censorship") with all of the selections of the Project Censored staff, their methodology-including content analysis-is transparent enough to make this an important annual addition to one's bookshelves. After all, the first-and arguably, the most important-ethical and professional step in the journalistic process is deciding what to cover and what not to cover. This book cries out for answers to the question of "why weren't these stories adequately covered in the mainstream media?"
The above article was published in Media Ethics , Spring 2004 (15:2), pp.30-31.