The web's rescue home of spiked stories, deemed by network news controllers as too risky to run, questions why the 'Gray Lady' won't help it out…
This is an important journalistic and public policy question.
The Times claims to be the world's pre-eminent newspaper, it publishes the International Herald Tribune, has a major news service, and owns a batch of media properties, including the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, the daily "of record" for the project, which is housed at nearby Sonoma State University.
Yet, in its 30-year history, the Times has neither published nor written about the Censored Project and its list of serious stories the mainstream media censored or ignored.
Peter Philips, the project director, told me that the awards ceremonies were held for a number of years in New York (1996-2000) and that Times reporters would often attend. Phillips remembered one reporter in particular who said, "Keep it up, we post your list in the newsroom every year."
No representative from the PD ever came to any of the Project's ceremonies or programs at Sonoma State, except for the reporter Paul Payne who came to a lecture on 3 November.
And he came, not to do a real story on Project Censored's stories of the year or its history, but to do a hatchet job on Censored Story No. l8, "Physicist challenges official 9/11 story."
Phillips and the project founder, Carl Jensen, retired and living in Cotati, and the Guardian, which has published the project as a major front page story for years and sent it out to the alternative press nationwide, all complained to the PD and asked for an explanation and an apology. The PD did run an Op-Ed by Phillips but gave no explanation nor apology.
Obviously, the Times and the Post Democrat don't like the project, but it is after all a local journalism/media criticism project at a local university done by local professors and local students that has gained national acclaim over a 30 year period. Don't the Times and the PD cover local news any more?
So I put the question to Jensen.
"I am often asked," he said, "why hasn't the New York Times ever written about Project Censored? My response is always the same: 'You should ask the New York Times why it hasn't written about Project Censored.'
"After all, Project Censored is the longest running national news media research project in the country. It is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. In fact, Project Censored may well be the longest running academic research project in the country with the exception of health-oriented longitudinal studies.
"It expanded the definition of news from the three original categories – religious censorship, political censorship, and censorship of obscenities – to include the concept of news media self censorship which is now widely accepted.
It also institutionalised the term 'junk food news' to describe the tabloid-type news that appears in the mainstream media. More than a hundred students, faculty, and other volunteers review up to a thousand news stories annually to locate the 25 most important stories that were overlooked, under covered, or censored.
"Now why wouldn't the New York Times want to report on that?"
Yes, why? I will query the New York Times public editor Byron Calame and editor Bill Keller, and other editors if necessary, to try to get an answer.
Meanwhile, take a look at the link below and the website that has archived 30 years of Project Censored and see what an incredible array of 750 or so issues and stories they represent. Note the stories have synopses, sources, and updates by the authors. And note that the site includes Censored books, pamphlets, and indices from 1976 through 2007.
The Censored archives and web display were created by Gary Evans, of Sebastopol, who Jensen describes as "an extraordinary fan and honorary archivist of Project Censored." The site makes clear that Project Censored is truly a unique and outstanding journalistic and academic achievement.
"All the news that fits in print," proudly trumpets the Times masthead. Surely there's some news somewhere in this project that would fit in print in the New York Times.
If not, Phillips, Jensen, the Guardian, and lots of other faithful Censored supporters around the world would like to know why. B3, who wonders why the Times runs Jayson Blair, Judith Miller, her stories on fictitious weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and backup editorials justifying the invasion, and still won't write about Project Censored.