Over decades I've been associated with several periodicals that have published a (free?) cover story each year from Project Censored ("Project Censored," Oct. 18), but this time my annual irritation requires expression.
Though the topics summarized in these stories may be "underreported" (which is all the project now claims in the small print) by standards of journalism or a political point of view, calling them "censored" is nothing but cynically sensationalistic marketing which I find offensive and destructive. Back in the day when I was a columnist, I once wrote about cigarette advertising campaigns targeting young people, for a newspaper that was taking that advertising money from tobacco companies. The piece was killed, I lost my column, the newspaper mounted a campaign to discredit me, and my writing career in that city was pretty much over. That's censorship. Knowing what it really is -- and saying what it really is -- I believe is too important to risk losing the meaning of the term for the sake of easy but misapplied imagery or a self-serving brand name.
William S. Kowinski, Arcata
Thanks for the article on Project Censored. I have been buying and reading from cover to cover the Censored books since 1994. I met Carl Jenson, founder of Project Censored and Peter Phillips, successor to Carl Jenson as editor of the Censored books, at the California Faculty Association meetings in Los Angeles. During one of these meetings Peter asked if I would like to be a faculty evaluator for Project Censored. I did it for a couple of years around 2005 until my traveling made it impossible to continue.
All of the material in Censored is researched by higher education students supervised by faculty members. The top 25 censored news stories are submitted to a panel of about 30 judges from the United States and three or four other countries. This panel ranks the censored news stories, and they are published in Censored. All participants in this endeavor are listed in the Censored books. The sources for all the censored news stories are listed, and articles in the Censored are well-footnoted.
As well as important news that did not receive a lot of attention in our media, there is a section called junk food news which identifies several extensively covered news stories which have no significant effect on our lives. For each junk food news story there is an account of events which could have affected our lives that occurred at the time the junk food news occurred but were not covered by the media. That section makes for interesting reading.
One of the most significant sections in the 2011 edition of Censored deals with what the authors called State Crimes Against Democracy (SCAD), pages 231 to 291. If you are concerned about what is happening in our country today, I highly recommend these sections.
Jack Munsee, McKinleyville
Something that was mentioned in "Project Censored" stopped me dead in my tracks because I knew it could not be true. It was the reference to Palestinian women being forced to give birth in shackles. So I "Googled" the term as you had it in the story. I then followed the story progression.
Page after page had the same story repeated on web site after web site -- and all the sites were those with a political agenda and oozing polemics. Finally we come to the NCJ source, "Project Censored," which acquired the story through Electronic Intifada.
So, was the statement in the NCJ true? I cannot prove it was false, but my understanding of Israeli society, its government and its policies tells me it is not likely to be true. The source of the story is one Palestinian prisoner and a representative of a U.N. agency whose comments were taken out of context. But the important point is that you presented it as if it were true. Just because the mainstream media does not report something and alternative media does, does not mean that what the alternative media is presenting is factually correct. The first rule of good journalism: Check your sources.
Nan Abrams, Eureka