What is Project Censored?
The basic premise of Project Censored is that the mass media have failed
to provide the public with all the information it needs to succeed and
prosper as a society.
While the United States may have a free press and the most sophisti-
cated communications system in the world, unfortunately a free press and
high technology do not guarantee a well-informed society.
The problem is not the quantity of information, which sometimes reaches
an overload level, but the quality of information. For example, when
something starts to go wrong in your personal life, there generally are
some warning signals that alert you to the problem. If you are a
rational person, you normally would act upon that information in an
effort to solve the problem.
So too, it is with a society. When a problem arises, there should be a
warning signal -- information-- that alerts the citizens that something
is wrong which needs attention and resolution. An aware and informed
populace could then influence its leaders to act upon that information
in an effort to solve the problem. This, unfortunately, is not the case
in the United States as we are becoming abundantly aware during these
I would suggest that a systematic omission of news about significant
issues in our major news media has led to a dangerously distorted
picture of America in the late 20th Century. This false picture of
society, while perhaps reassuring to, or even desired by, an elite group
in our society, represents a festering sore that must be treated if we
are to survive as a nation.
To understand how this situation has come about in a society with a free
press that mass produces information, we must understand how the flow
of information is controlled.
In totalitarian societies, we find outright, overt censorship. The
state, through its bureaucracy, determines what can or cannot be said or
printed and maintains its control of the information flow through a
monopoly on the means of production of the information industry. The
massive coverup of the Chernobyl disaster by Communist leaders is a
classic example of this form of censorship. In late 1991, a
parliamentary commission, chaired by Volodymyr Yavorivsky, revealed
that in April 1986 Soviet authorities reacted to the Chernobyl nuclear
power accident with "a total lie, falsehoods, coverup and concealment"
which led to thousands of deaths.
In societies perceived as free, we find the information output deter-
mined by economic pressures to produce corporate profits, by a system-
atic distribution of "punishment and reward" to workers in the media,
and by a less obvious, but nonetheless effective, control of the means
of production of the information industry. The latter is
well-documented in Ben Bagdikian's book "The Media Monopoly."
In both cases, the efforts to manipulate and control the flow of
information are successful -- whether by overt censorship or by covert
censorship. The crucial difference is that the citizens in a
totalitarian society are aware that their information is controlled
and manipulated and they conduct their lives with that knowledge.
However, the citizens of a free society, such as the United States, want
to believe the mass media provide them with a fair, objective, and
uncensored report of what is happening in the world around them and thus
are lulled into a false sense of being well-informed.
Project Censored Launched
In 1976, concerned about increasing social problems and public apa-
thy, I launched a national research effort, called Project Censored, to
explore whether there really is a systematic omission of certain issues
in our national news media. My quest was specifically stimulated by
personal bewilderment over how the American people could elect Richard
Nixon by a landslide after Watergate, one of the most sensational
political crimes of the century.
Project Censored is now an international media research project in its
16th year. By exploring and publicizing stories on important issues
that have been overlooked or underreported by the news media, the
project seeks to stimulate journalists and editors to provide more mass
media coverage of those issues. It also hopes to encourage the general
public to seek out and demand more information on those issues.
Since its start, the research project has generated queries for more
information about the project as well as about individual stories from
journalists, scholars, and concerned people throughout the world. It
has been described variously as a tip sheet for investigative television
programs like "60 Minutes" and " 20/20,' ' as a distant early warning
system for society's problems, and even as a "moral force" in American
media. In 1988, the national Association for Education in Journalism
and Mass Communication cited the project for "providing a new model for
media criticism for journalism education." Project Censored was the
model for Bay Area Censored, a regional research effort that calls
attention to the most important San Francisco Bay Area stories that the
local media under-report or ignore. Bay Area Censored, now in its third
year, is sponsored by the Media Alliance, a San Francisco-based
organization of journalists.
The Project director has been cited by the Giraffe Project for "sticking
his neck out for the common good; " been honored with the Media Alli-
ance Meritorious Achievement Award in the "Unimpeachable of the annual
Freedom of Information Award from the Society of Professional
Journalists, in Los Angeles; and was named the "Outstanding Journalism
Teacher of 1991" at the four-year college level by the California
Newspaper Publishers Association.
Despite its growing impact and recognition, the Project has largely been
ignored by the major news media in the United States, which,
incidentally, are not known for their inclination to accept and evaluate
criticism. Supporters of Project Censored regularly nominate the pro-
ject itself as a top "censored' ' story of the year. This may be
changing, however. The Project's first major national media recognition
occurred in February, 1991,when it was the subject of an hour-long
documentary on PBS-TV, hosted by Bill Moyers.
Information about securing a copy of the videotape, titled "Moyers:
Project Censored," is available from Public Affairs Television, 356 West
58th St., New York, NY 10019, (212/560-6961).
The Censored Research Process
Researchers in the censorship seminar I teach at Sonoma State University
have reviewed thousands of stories over the past 16 years that many
Americans have not seen or heard about. The stories are nominated
annually by journalists, scholars, librarians, and the general public
from throughout the United States and abroad.
We then select the top 25 stories according to a number of criteria in-
cluding the amount of coverage the story received, the importance of the
issue, the reliability of the source, and the potential impact the story
may have. Next, the top 25 "censored" stories are submitted in synopsis
form to a panel of judges who select the top ten stories of the year.
A review of the project to date reveals that the major news media do
systematically overlook, ignore, or distort certain subjects. The most
under-reported category of ignored subjects deals with political or gov-
ernmental issues ranging from regulatory agencies to foreign
political/ military involvement to the presidency. The second leading
category of stories deals with business and economic issues or what some
call "corporate crime. " The third-ranked subject area concerns dangers
to an individual's health, whether from poisonous pesticides or
pharmaceutical malfeasance or low-level radiation. Other leading
subjects often under covered by the mainstream press include civil and
human rights, the military, and the environment.
Why Are Some Issues Overlooked?
One of the questions often asked is why doesn't the press cover the
issues raised by Project Censored. The failure of the news media to
cover critical and sometimes controversial issues consistently and in
depth is not, as some say, a conspiracy on the part of the media elite.
News is too diverse, fast-breaking, and unpredictable to be controlled
by some sinister conservative eastern establishment media cabal.
However, there are a variety of factors operating that, when combined,
lead to the systematic failure of the news media to fully inform the
public. While it is not an overt form of censorship, such as the kind
we observe in some other societies, it is nonetheless real and often
The media's explanations for censorship are plentiful. Sometimes a
source for a story isn't considered to be reliable; other times the
story doesn't have an easily identifiable "beginning, middle, and end;"
some stories are considered to be "too complex" for the general public;
on occasion stories are ignored because they haven't been "blessed" by
The New York Times or The Washington Post. Reporters and editors at
most of the other 1650 daily newspapers know their news judgment isn't
going to be challenged when they produce the-leader" stories, a practice
which leads to the "pack" or "herd" phenomenon in journalism.
Another major factor contributing to media self-censorship is that the
story is considered potentially libelous. There is no question that
long and costly jury trials, and sometimes large judgments against the
media, have produced a massive chilling effect on the press and replaced
copy editors with copy attorneys.
Nonetheless, the bottom line explanation for much of the censorship
found in the mainstream media is the media's own bottom line. Corpo-
rate media perceive their primary responsibility is to maximize profits,
not, as some would have it, to inform the public. Many of the stories
cited by Project Censored are not in the best financial interests of
publishers, owners, stockholders, or advertisers. Equally important,
investigative journalism is more expensive than the traditional public
stenographers school of journalism. And, of course, there is always the
"don't rock the boat" mentality which pervades corporate media
Jonathan Alter, media columnist for Newsweek, suggests an additional
reason for the lack of coverage given some issues. According to Alter,
some stories are not covered because they do not fit conventional
definitions of news. This, of course, is why I suggest it is time for
journalism to rethink its traditional definitions of news. In a time of
pending economic doom, nuclear terrorism, and environmental disaster,
it is not news when a man bites a dog.
Real news is not repetitive, sensationalistic coverage of
non-important events such as the William Kennedy Smith Palm Beach trial
which attracted so much media attention in 1991.
By contrast, real news is objective and reliable information about
important events happening in a society. And I suggest that the
widespread dissemination of such information will help people become
better informed and that a better informed public will elect
politicians who are more responsive to people's needs.
A Smoking Gun! People Magazine Censors Bohemian Grove Story
Critics of Project Censored, who deny there is such a thing as media
self-censorship, often ask for "smoking gun" examples. Then, when
provided with such examples, they too often merely ignore them. None-
theless, here's another example, excerpted from an article I wrote for
Fine Line, The Newsletter On Journalism Ethics, "Project Censored,
Sins of Omission and The Hardest 'W' of all -- Why," November/ December
Perhaps the most blatant recent example of media self-censorship, and
media denial, is an incident which occurred during the summer of 1991.
The Bohemian Grove encampment, which draws the cream of America's male
power elite -- including press moguls -- to northern California each
year, is one of the media's best known, best kept secrets.
Dirk Mathison, San Francisco bureau chief for People Magazine at the
time, managed to surreptitiously infiltrate the encampment in search of
a good story. And he got it. He recorded a variety of newsworthy
items, including a previously unpublicized Gulf War Iraqi casualty
count of 200,000 as reported to the Bohemian Club members by former
Navy Secretary John Lehman. Unfortunately, Mathison was spotted by a
Time Inc. executive and quietly ordered to leave.
The article, which Mathison said was scheduled to run for four pages,
was suddenly killed. When I asked Lanny Jones, managing editor of
People Magazine, whether the fact that Time Inc. owns People had
anything to do with killing the story, he said no. Since his magazine
had obtained the story by illegal trespass, he said, running it would
have been unethical.
Think about it. People Magazine -- pleading ethics to explain why it
spiked a story the American people should hear!
When I took exception to Jones' response, he asked me what I would have
done without violating the publication's guidelines. I said, at the
very least, I'd have Mathison write a straight news article describing
exactly what happened -- how he gained access to the Bohemian Grove,
what he heard there, and why he was told to leave. Jones said it was a
good idea and he'd think about it. That was August 6, 1991.
The People Magazine/Bohemian Grove story of self-censorship is a classic
example of the dangers Ben Bagdikian warns about in Media Monopoly. If
People Magazine were not part of the Time Inc. media empire, it is
doubtful that the story would have been spiked.
Would It Make Any Difference?
Finally, there is yet another question that is often asked about the
project. Would it really make any difference if the press were to
provide more coverage for the kinds of stories cited by Project
The answer is very simple: yes.
First, there is the issue of a lack of public interest. Critics of
Project Censored say that the media give the public what it wants, i.e.
"junk food news," because the people are not interested in reading about
the issues raised by Project Censored. We counter that by saying,
Unfortunately, unaware of alternatives, the people will read or watch
what the mass media produce. However, we suggest that it is the media's
responsibility, as watchdogs of society, to explore, compile, and
present information people should know about in a way that will attract
their attention and be relevant to their everyday lives. And, when the
media do this, the people will read and respond to the issues raised.
An example of what the press can do when it takes its responsibilities
seriously is provided by one of 1991's top 25 stories -- "Voodoo
Economics: The Untold Story" (#3). Authors Donald Barlett and James
Steele, and their newspaper, The Philadelphia Inquirer, invested the
time, energy, and money to produce an extraordinarily informative series
of articles on a very complex and normally uninteresting subject -- the
economy. Within hours of the first installment of the series, the
Inquirer started to receive requests for reprints. Altogether the
newspaper distributed more than 225,000 free reprints. One reader
wanted 535 copies -- one to distribute to each member of Congress.
There is, indeed, a genuine desire on the part of people to know more
about issues that affect them. But then, the next question is, would it
make any difference if the people were better informed?
Hunger in Africa was consistently nominated as a "censored" subject
during the early 1980s. When I would ask journalists why they did not
cover the tragedy unfolding there, they would say: " It is not news, "
or, "Everyone already knows about starving Africans," or "Nothing can be
done about it anyway.''
Early in 1984, an ABC-TV News correspondent in Rome came upon
information that led him to believe that millions of lives were being
threatened by drought and famine in Africa. He asked the home office in
New York for permission to take his crew to Africa to get the story.
The answer was no.
(There's an ironic twist to this story. I subsequently discovered who
it was at ABC that refused to let the network's TV crew go to Africa in
1984. It was Rick Kaplan, who later became executive producer of Ted
Koppel's "Nightline." And, in mid- 1986, it was the same Rick Kaplan
who killed a two-part "Nightline" series on Project Censored which was
going to explore whether the news media ever overlook, undercover, or
censor important stories.)
ABC-TV News was not the only, nor even the first, television network to
reject the tragic story of starving children in Ethiopia. In October,
1983, David Kline, a free-lance journalist and news producer in San
Francisco, shot film on assignment for CBS showing emaciated adults and
some children near death. According to a Columbia Journalism Review
article, one of the children in Kline's footage was so thin that its
heart could be seen beating through the chest wall. Nonetheless, Kline
was told the footage was not strong enough. After being rejected by
CBS, Kline offered to do the story for NBC and PBS and they both turned
him down. Nor were the television networks the only media not
interested in a story about millions of people facing death. Kline also
offered the story to a number of magazines including Life, Playboy, The
New Yorker, Esquire, Harper's, and Mother Jones, all of whom rejected
it. Only the Christian Science Monitor ran Kline's piece.
Later, as we all now know, a BBC television crew, traveling through
Ethiopia, captured the stark reality of children starving to death.
People throughout the world saw the coverage and responded.
Overnight, it sparked a world-wide reaction that reportedly saved the
lives of seven million Ethiopians.
Indeed, the media can make a difference.
The press has the power to stimulate people to clean up the environ-
ment; to prevent nuclear proliferation; to force crooked politicians
out of office; to reduce poverty; to provide quality health care for
all people; to create a truly equitable society; and, as we have seen,
to literally save the lives of millions of human beings.
Project Censored Judges Of 1991
One of the most difficult challenges of Project Censored is to select
the top ten "censored" stories from among the 25 top nominations. This
responsibility falls to our distinguished national panel of judges who
volunteer their efforts. Perhaps one of the greatest tributes to the
project is that some of our judges, identified with asterisks below,
have participated in Project Censored every year since selecting the
first group of "best censored stories" of 1976. We are indebted to the
following judges who selected the top ten "censored" stories of 1991.
Dr. Donna Allen, founding editor of Media Report to Women;
Ben Bagdikian,* Professor Emeritus, Graduate School of Journalism, UC-
Richard Barnet, Senior Fellow, Institute for Policy Studies;
Noam Chomsky,* professor, Linguistics and Philosophy, MIT;
Dr. George Gerbner, professor, Annenberg School of Communications,
University of Pennsylvania;
Nicholas Johnson, * professor, College of Law, University of Iowa;
Rhoda H. Karpatkin, executive director, Consumers Union;
Charles L. Klotzer, editor and publisher, St. Louis Journalism
Judith Krug, director, Office for Intellectual Freedom, American
Frances Moore Lappe, co-founder and co-director, Institute for the Arts
William Lutz, professor, English, Rutgers University, and editor of The
Quarterly Review of Doublespeak;
Robert C. Maynard, editor and publisher, Oakland Tribune;
Jack L. Nelson, * professor, Graduate School of Education, Rutgers
Tom Peters, nationally syndicated columnist on excellence;
Herbert 1. Schiller, Professor Emeritus of Communication, UC-San Diego;
Sheila Rabb Weidenfeld,* president, D.C. Productions.
The following pages provide a brief one page synopsis of each of the top
25 censored stories of 1991 and some additional background information
about the issue supplied by the author when available. If you are
interested in any of these issues, you are encouraged to go to the
original articles, or other sources, for more information. The synopsis
is merely a brief overview of the issue.
From: New Liberation News Service
/* Written 11:38 am Mar 19, 1993 by firstname.lastname@example.org in igc:media.issues */
/* ---------- "Project Censored" ---------- */
From: News Desk
Subject: Project Censored
Events conspired against me but here at long last is the 1992 list
from Project Censored. Hopefully, it has not already been uploaded
by someone else...
Sonoma State University
NEWS FROM: PROJECT CENSORED
Sonoma State University
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
For Immediate Release: # 106
Contact: Mark Lowenthal
Project Censored: 707/664-2500
(EDITOR'S NOTE: A NATIONAL PANEL OF MEDIA EXPERTS ANNUALLY SELECTS
THE TOP TEN UNDER-REPORTED NEWS STORIES OF THE YEAR.)
NEWS MEDIA SELL-OUT TOPS CENSORED NEWS LIST
ROHNERT PARK -- The top censored story of 1992 revealed how
the nation's major news media traded their traditional adversarial
watchdog role for profits and deregulation during the Reagan/Bush era
according to a national panel of media experts.
Carl Jensen, professor of communication studies at Sonoma State
University, California, and founder/director of Project Censored, said the
media sell-out story, written by nationally acclaimed media critic Ben
Bagdikian, also explained why a number of other critical issues were
overlooked, under-reported, or censored in 1992.
Project Censored, a national media research effort now in its
17th year, locates stories about significant issues that are not
widely publicized by the national news media. Following are the top
ten under-reported stories of 1992:
1. THE GREAT MEDIA SELL-OUT. In the past decade, the Reagan/Bush
administrations gave print and electronic media owners in America
"permission" to create giant, monopolistic media empires. In return, the
media looked the other way while the administrations committed high crimes
and misdemeanors and then lied about it.
2. CORPORATE CRIME DWARFS STREET CRIME. While the press
continues to alarm the public with stories of street crime and
violence, corporate crime and violence grows at an accelerated pace safely
away from the media's spotlight.
3. CENSORED ELECTION YEAR ISSUES. While the candidates and the
media focused on alleged infidelities and family values, there were far more
important issues that were under-reported during the election year including:
Bush and Iran-contra; Bush's Team 100; Homelessness; Dan Quayle's Council on
Competitiveness; The Death Rate of Iraqi Children After the Gulf War; and
What Happened in Mena, Arkansas, while Bill Clinton was Governor.
4. WORLD'S LEADING MERCHANT OF DEATH. With the end of the cold
war, the hope was that U.S. arms production and sales would be reduced and
replaced with non-military production, but this has not happened. Instead,
the U.S. has now become the world's unchallenged weapons producer and
5. IRAQGATE AND THE WATERGATE LAW. While some of the disturbing
facts behind the Iraqgate scandal have started to appear in the press, the
mainstream media all but ignored that story, as well as the quiet demise of
the Watergate Law, for more than a year.
6. "WE ARE WINNING THE WAR ON DRUGS" WAS A LIE. When President
George Bush told the American people "We are winning the war on drugs" in
1992, he was lying; in fact, Americans are in greater danger from drugs today
than ever before in our history.
7. TRASHING FEDERAL REGULATIONS FOR PROFIT. While polls show
the general public firmly opposes deregulation when the purity of air,
water, food, drugs, and other necessities are involved, President Bush
proposed a total 210-day moratorium on new federal regulations during 1992
and big business reciprocated with campaign contributions.
8. GOVERNMENT SECRECY MAKES A MOCKERY OF DEMOCRACY. America's
information control policy is out of control; in 1991, some 6,500 U.S.
government employees classified 7,107,017 documents, an average of more than
19,000 documents per day.
9. ADVERTISING PRESSURE CORRUPTS A FREE PRESS. The Center for
the Study of Commercialism invited 200 media outlets to a press conference to
reveal how advertisers suppress the news; not a single radio or television
station or network sent a reporter and only two newspapers bothered to
10. POST COLD WAR BLACK BUDGET IS PROSPERING. The end of the
cold war did not end the secretive cold war mentality of the Pentagon; today,
close to $100 million is being spent to fuel the national security machinery
of the Pentagon.
15 OTHER "CENSORED" STORIES
Another 15 under-reported issues round out the list of the top 25
"censored" stories of 1992: Solar Power Eclipsed by Oil, Gas, and Nuclear
Interests; What Happened to the EPA?; The Specter of Sterility; News Media
Lose the War with the Pentagon; Plutonium is Forever; America's Killing
Ground: Dumping on Native American Lands; Norplant: Birth Control or Social
Control?; The Censored News about Electric Automobiles; Poison in the
Pacific; Black Gold Conquistadors Invade Ecuador; How To Sell Pollution for
Profit; Clear-cutting the World's Rainforests; Censorship Through Bribery;
The No-Pest Shell Game; University of Arizona Desecrates Sacred Native
PROJECT CENSORED JUDGES
The panel of judges who selected the top ten under-reported
news stories were Dr. Donna Allen, founding editor of Media Report to
Women; Richard Barnet, Senior Fellow, Institute for Policy Studies;
Noam Chomsky, professor, Linguistics and Philosophy, Massachusetts
Institute of Technology; Hugh Downs, host, ABC's "20/20;" Susan
Faludi, journalist/author; George Gerbner, professor of communication
and Dean Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania; Nicholas Johnson,
professor, College of Law, University of Iowa;
Rhoda H. Karpatkin, president, Consumers Union; Charles L.
Klotzer, editor and publisher, St. Louis Journalism Review; Judith
Krug, director, Office for Intellectual Freedom, American Library
Association; William Lutz, professor, English, Rutgers University, and
editor of The Quarterly Review of Doublespeak; Jack L. Nelson,
professor, Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University; Herbert
I. Schiller, Scholar in Residence, The American University; and Sheila
Rabb Weidenfeld, president, D.C. Productions.
The SSU PROJECT CENSORED researchers, who reviewed and
evaluated more than 700 "censored" nominations from throughout the
country, were Diane Albracht, Beverly Alexander, Peter Anderson, Judy
Bailey, Jeannie Blake, Serge Chasson, Amy S. Cohen, Amy Doyle, G. John
Faiola, Eric Fedel, Kimberly Kaido, Blake Kehler, Kenneth Lang,
Therese Lipsey, Jennifer Makowsky, Stephanie Niebel, Nicole Novak,
Valerie Quigley, Kimberly S. Anderson, Damon S. Van Hoesen, and Mark
Lowenthal, assistant director of Project Censored.
"CENSORED: The News That Didn't Make the News and Why," the
1993 Project Censored yearbook (ISBN 1-882680-00-6), published by
Shelburne Press, Chapel Hill, NC, will be available in bookstores
across the country in April or call 919/942-0220 for more information.
The book features the top 25 "censored" stories of 1992, a chronology
of censorship from 605 B.C. to 1993, and a "censored" resource guide
to alternative publications and groups. It includes an introduction by
Hugh Downs, host of ABC's "20/20," and cartoons by Tom Tomorrow, whose
series "This Modern World" is syndicated to over 60 newspapers.
"America's CENSORED Newsletter" (ISSN1061-4230), the first and only
publication to monitor news media censorship and self-censorship on a regular
basis in America, is published by Censored Publications. Based on Project
Censored, the Newsletter reports monthly on the issues the mainstream media
ignore, overlook, or censor. For an annual subscription, send $30 to
CENSORED Newsletter, PO Box 310, Cotati, CA 94931.
To receive a free pamphlet listing the top 25 stories, please send a
self-addressed, stamped envelope to PROJECT CENSORED, Sonoma State
University, Rohnert Park, CA 94928.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: SIDEBAR STORY #1 FOLLOWS)
INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISTS AND MEDIA
CITED FOR EXPOSING "CENSORED" STORIES
Following are the investigative journalists and media cited by Project
Censored for exposing the top ten issues overlooked or under-reported by the
national news media in 1992:
1. THE GREAT MEDIA SELL-OUT. MOTHER JONES, May/June 1992,
"Journalism of Joy," by Ben Bagdikian.
2. CORPORATE CRIME. MULTINATIONAL MONITOR, December 1991,
"Corporate Crime & Violence in Review," by Russell Mokhiber.
3. CENSORED ELECTION YEAR ISSUES. COMMON CAUSE MAGAZINE,
April/May/June 1992, "George Bush's Ruling Class;" WASHINGTON POST, 1/9/92,
"A Profound Silence on Homelessness," by Mary McGrory; THE PROGRESSIVE, May
1992, "Deregulatory Creep," by Arthur E. Rowse; THIS WORLD, San Francisco
Examiner, 10/11/92, "46,900 Unspectacular Deaths," by Mike Royko;
UNCLASSIFIED, February/March 1992, "The Mena, Arkansas, Story."
4. WORLD'S LEADING MERCHANT OF DEATH. WORLD PRESS REVIEW,
September 1992, "The World's Top Arms Merchant," by Frederick Clairmonte; THE
HUMAN QUEST, July/August 1992, "War 'Dividends' -- Military Spending Out of
Balance With Needy," by Tristram Coffin.
5. IRAQGATE & THE WATERGATE LAW. COVERT/ACTION INFORMATION
BULLETIN, Fall 1992, "Bush Administration Uses CIA to Stonewall Iraqgate
Investigation," by Jack Calhoun; WAR AND PEACE DIGEST (NY),
August 1992, "BNL-Iraqgate Scandal;" THE PAPER of Sonoma County (CA),
10/22/92, "Is Bush a Felon?," by Stephen P. Pizzo; THE NEW YORK TIMES,
10/20/92, "The Patsy Prosecutor," by William Safire.
6. WINNING THE WAR ON DRUGS. IN THESE TIMES, 5/20/92, "Drug
Deaths Rise As the War Continues," by Mike Males; EXTRA!, September 1992,
"Don't Forget the Hype: Media, Drugs and Public Opinion," by Micah Fink.
7. TRASHING FEDERAL REGULATIONS FOR PROFIT. THE NATION,
3/23/92, "Bush's Regulatory Chill: Immoral, Illegal, and Deadly," by
Christine Triano and Nancy Watzman; THE PROGRESSIVE, May 1992, "Deregulatory
Creep," by Arthur E. Rowse.
8. GOVERNMENT SECRECY. ISSUES IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, Summer
1992, "The Perils of Government Secrecy," by Steven Aftergood.
9. HOW ADVERTISING PRESSURE CAN CORRUPT A FREE PRESS. THE
CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF COMMERCIALISM, 1992, "Dictating Content: How
Advertising Pressure Can Corrupt a Free Press," by Ronald K. L. Collins.
10. PENTAGON'S POST COLD WAR BLACK BUDGET. MOTHER JONES,
March/April 1992, "The Pentagon's Secret Stash," by Tim Weiner.
-- SSU --
(EDITOR'S NOTE: SIDEBAR STORY #2 FOLLOWS)
DAN QUAYLE IS JUNK FOOD NEWS OF 1992
ROHNERT PARK -- Vice President-reject Dan Quayle set a new
record in the annual Junk Food News competition by being cited in two
of the top three over-covered unimportant news stories of 1992
according to Dr. Carl Jensen, professor of Communication Studies at
Sonoma State University.
The annual list of news stories that receive more media coverage than
they deserve is based on a national survey by Jensen of members of the
Organization of News Ombudsmen.
The top ten Junk Food News stories of 1992 were:
1. Dan Quayle Misspells Potato -- the Vice President's final tutoring
2. Madonna's Best Selling "Sex" -- from pop queen to porn queen
3. Murphy Brown/Dan Quayle -- Dan's "family values" get low ratings
4. Johnny Carson: The Final Days -- Wherrrrrrrrrre's Johnny?
5. Royal Scandal: Fergie & Diana -- the naughty wives of Windsor
6. Woody Allen vs Mia Farrow -- we liked him better when he was funny
7. Geniffer Flowers -- no shrinking violet
8. The Barbara/Hillary Cookie Bake-off -- let the chips fall where
9. The Elvis Stamp Election -- the youngest candidate won this
10. U.S. Olympic Dream Team -- first single sport Olympics in history
Other nominations cited by the news ombudsmen included Bush Tosses
Cookies in Japan, the Jay Leno/Arsenio Hall Late Night War, Clinton's Vietnam
Record, Jerry Brown's 800 Number, Batman Returns/Superman Dies, Polls-Polls-
Polls, and Sinead O'Connor Rips the Pope.
Ombudsmen comments on the Junk Food News stories included:
"Too many wire editors feel pressured to duplicate in the next day's
paper whatever was on last night's 'Entertainment Tonight' or any number of
other pseudo-news programs." -- William Flynn, Patriot Ledger, Quincy, MA.
"The media helped Madonna sell her book ... but even the media
couldn't rescue Batman." -- Gina Lubrano, San Diego Union-Tribune.
"Many of the junk food stories this year centered on the presidential
campaign ... but if the candidates talk about it, and they do, how can you
ignore it?" -- Frank Ritter, The Tennessean, Nashville, TN.
"Truly significant news is often oppressively dull or mentally
taxing; the media welcome stories like these to leaven the loaf." --
Kerry W. Sipe, The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, VA.
Noting the extensive coverage given British Royalty in the
United States media, Takeshi Maezawa, columnist for The Daily Yomiuri
in Tokyo, points out that the press in Japan mutually agreed not to
cover the Japanese Prince's search for a bride.
Jensen, who also is director of Project Censored which cites
the most important news stories overlooked by the press each year,
notes that the coverage given Dan Quayle's spelling and fight with
Murphy Brown filled media time and space that could have been devoted
to more relevant political issues during an election year.
For more information about Junk Food News stories, contact
Project Censored at Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, California
94928, 707/664- 2500.
-- SSU --