2006-05-18 Uncovering Project Censored
Uncovering Project Censored
If there has been one fixture in an industry that’s on a never-ending quest for the next great idea, it’s been Project Censored, the brainchild of a university professor who combined academic research techniques with some standard journalistic practices to dig out stories that Americans didn’t hear or read much about in the popular media.
When Professor Carl Jensen started the Project as a 400-level course through Sonoma State University’s Sociology Department 30 years ago, alternative newspapers — many of them in their infancies with young writers wary of institutional authority and hungry to shake up the system — devoured the muck that Jensen and his team of student researchers raked up and dished out each year.
Three decades is a long time to survive in any business, and for nearly a quarter-century most of the stories published by Project Censored went mostly unquestioned, if also largely unnoticed by most consumers of mainstream news.
But over the past six years, the playing fields in both journalism and politics have changed dramatically. For starters, mainstream news is now being controlled by giant corporations and the government like never before. For its part, the federal government has been literally buying good press by co-opting real journalists to write and broadcast the equivalent of press releases for Bush administration policies and passing that off as “real” news. And as that is happening, daily mainstream newspapers are being swallowed up by bigger news companies and being transformed into little more than advertising vehicles.
In the alternative journalism world, which some media watchers believe has now become really nothing more than an extension of the mainstream press, both the once staunchly liberal Village Voice and the LA Weekly, along with a host of other papers in major markets across the country, are now owned by the politically ambivalent former New Times chain of papers, a Phoenix-based national publishing company that is now known as Village Voice Media and assumes a largely libertarian political persona in its writing, a hard-knuckled approach to reporting and generally eschews liberal and party-line politics at all of its 17 weekly newspapers.
But more to the point — and more than partially because of the perceived extreme left-leaning bent that editors with Project Censored have assumed over the years in selecting, writing and publishing its stories — some in the alternative press, who themselves mostly leaned hard to the political left and once unconditionally supported Project Censored, aren’t so sure anymore: sure if the information being offered is really censored, if the information being reported is actually correct, and if Project Censored is still relevant, at least from a journalistic perspective.
The article's title and summary imply that the article is primarily a criticism of Project Censored, but the article's text seems rather more ambivalent. Further analysis seems warranted.
 shorter text
“There once was a time when you couldn’t trust anyone over 30. Today, some are wondering if that isn’t true of Project Censored.”