Project Censored

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Project Censored
FounderCarl Jensen
Type501(C)(3) nonprofit organization
PurposeJournalism, Independent Media, Freedom of Speech, Solutions Journalism
Mickey Huff (Director)

Project Censored is a media research, education, and advocacy initiative that champions the importance of a free press for democratic self-government. The Project’s mission is to expose and oppose news censorship and to promote independent investigative journalism, media literacy, and critical thinking.[1][2][3] It produces an annual book, published by Seven Stories Press, and a weekly radio program. Both the annual books and the weekly radio programs, as well as public events sponsored by the Project, focus on issues of news censorship, propaganda, free speech, and politics.

Project Censored was founded at Sonoma State University in 1976 by Carl Jensen (1923-2017).[4] Since 2010, Mickey Huff has been the Project’s director.[5] It is guided by the Media Freedom Foundation, a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization, established in 2000. The Project is based at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California.

The Book[edit]

Since 1993, Project Censored has published its annual list of the most under-reported news stories in the form of a book. Since 1996, Seven Stories Press in New York has published each annual Censored book, totally twenty-two volumes.[6] The first Project Censored yearbook, Censored: The News That Didn’t Make the News—And Why, edited by Carl Jensen, was published by Shelburne Press in 1993.[7] Two subsequent volumes, the 1994 and 1995 yearbooks, were published by Four Walls, Eight Windows.[8]

The most recent yearbook, Censored 2018: Press Freedoms in a “Post-Truth” World, featured a foreword by Deepa Kumar, chapters by the late Edward S. Herman and Ralph Nader, contributions from the Index on Censorship and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, as well as the Project’s annual chapters on the most significant under-reported news stories and analyses of junk food news and news abuse.[9]

In addition to being included in the Censored book series, the Project’s annual listing of the most significant but underreported news stories, dating back to 1976, is archived on the Project Censored website.[10] Censored lists have been featured in US national media outlets.[11][12][13][14][15][16]

Radio Program[edit]

Since 2010 Project Censored has produced a weekly public affairs program originating from KPFA in Berkeley, California, part of the Pacifica network. “The Project Censored Radio Show” is syndicated on 40 radio stations across North America.[17]

Documentary Films[edit]

Project Censored has been the subject of two feature-length documentary films.

In 2013, Doug Hecker and Christopher Oscar produced and directed Project Censored: The Movie: Ending the Reign of Junk Food News.[18],[19] The film features interviews with and commentary by Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Dan Rather, Phil Donahue, Michael_Parenti, Greg Palast, Oliver Stone, Daniel Ellsberg, Peter Kuznick, Cynthia McKinney, Nora Barrows-Friedman, John Perkins, Jonah Raskin, Khalil Bendib, Abby Martin, and faculty and students associated with Project Censored.

Project Censored: The Movie screened at numerous film festivals, including its premiere at the Sonoma International Film Festival in April 2013, the Bend Film Festival in October 2013, and the Madrid International Film Festival in July 2013, where Doug Hecker and Christopher Oscar were recognized for Best Directing of a Feature Documentary.[20]

In 1998, Differential Films released Project Censored: Is the Press Really Free?, directed and produced by Steven Keller. In May 2000, Project Censored: Is the Press Really Free? aired on PBS stations across the United States.[21]

Awards and Accolades[edit]

In 2008, Project Censored received PEN Oakland's Censorship award.[22]

In July 2014, Mickey Huff and Andy Lee Roth received the National Whistleblowers Center’s Pillar Award for New Media on behalf of Project Censored.

Ralph Nader described Project Censored as “a deep, wide and utterly engrossing exercise to unmask censorship, self-censorship, and propaganda in the mass media.”[23] In December 2013, Nader selected Censored 2014: Fearless Speech in Fateful Times as one of his “10 Books to Provoke Conversation” in 2014.[24]

Founding History[edit]

Project Censored was founded in 1976 by Dr. Carl Jensen at Sonoma State University as a media research program.[25] The project focused on student media literacy and critical thinking skills as applied to the US news media censorship.[26]

Corporate media reporters, editors, and executives lampooned Jensen for claiming they "censored" news stories. They argued that the stories were not censored, but that due to time and space constraints they could not publish every story. Jensen began an annual study that found that, rather than covering rather newsworthy stories, the corporate media often featured trivial and non-newsworthy stories, which Jensen termed "junk food news" in a 1983 interview published in Penthouse. Dating back to the first Censored yearbook, published in 1993, each annual Censored volume has featured a chapter dedicated to exposing what Jensen originally identified as “junk food news.”

In 1996, when Jensen retired, Dr. Peter Phillips, also a sociology professor at Sonoma State University, became director of Project Censored. He continued to expand the Project’s educational outreach and the annual book, adding the concept and analysis of “News Abuse” to elaborate Jensen’s idea of “junk food” news.[27] "News abuse" refers to corporate media stories that were newsworthy, but presented in a slanted or non-newsworthy manner.[28]

In 2000, Project Censored came under the oversight of the non-profit Media Freedom Foundation, founded by Jensen and Phillips, to ensure its independence. In 2007, two of Project Censored judges resigned due to then-director Peter Philips' decision to invite Steven E. Jones, a 9/11 Truth conspiracy theorist as the keynote speaker to the Project's annual conference.[29]

Professor Mickey Huff of Diablo Valley College became director in 2010.[30] He and associate director Dr. Andy Lee Roth have extended the Project beyond Sonoma State University and expanded the Campus Affiliates Program launched in 2009.[31],[32] The top "Censored" news stories are identified through the Campus Affiliates Program, a collaborative effort between faculty and students at many colleges and universities.[33]

Criticism and impact[edit]

In 2000, the founder of the progressive news analysis and commentary website AlterNet criticized Project Censored as "stuck in the past" with a "dubious selection process" that "reinforces self-marginalizing, defeatist behavior".[34] It has also been criticized for reporting on stories which are arguably not "under-reported" or "censored" at all, as they have sometimes appeared in the New York Times and other high-profile publications.[35]

The use of the term "censorship" to describe under-reported but not governmentally censored has been called into question.[36] William Powers, writing in The New Republic called this broad use of the term "pernicious and deceptive."[37]

Project Censored stories been cited in both national and international media.[38][39]. China News has referenced their work in an editorial criticizing US press practices.[40] Iranian State News, has also cited their work on the US-led invasion of Iraq to criticize US foreign policy.[41]


  1. ^ "The Project Censored Mission". January 26, 2018.
  2. ^ "Project Censored confronts "fake news" phenomenon". Golden Gate Xpress: San Francisco State University. March 11, 2017.
  3. ^ "Media overlook important news, researchers say". East Bay Times. November 27, 2007. Retrieved Feb 14, 2018.
  4. ^ "Project Censored founder Carl Jensen dies at 85". Santa Rosa Press Democrat. 2015-04-25. Retrieved 2018-02-04.
  5. ^ Huff, Mickey; Phillips, Peter, eds. (2010). Censored 2011 : the top 25 censored stories (1st ed.). New York: Seven Stories Press. ISBN 1583229205. OCLC 601133039.
  6. ^ "Seven Stories Press". Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  7. ^ Jensen, Carl (1993). Censored : the news that didn't make the news--and why (1st ed.). Chapel Hill, NC: Shelburne Press. ISBN 1882680006. OCLC 27810906.
  8. ^ Jensen, Carl (1995). Censored : the news that didn't make the news--and why : the 1995 project censored yearbook (1st ed.). New York: Four Walls Eight Windows. ISBN 1568580304. OCLC 32779730.
  9. ^ Roth, Andrew Lee; Huff, Mickey; Bendib, Khalil (eds.). Censored 2018 : press freedoms in a 'post-truth' world : the top censored stories and media analysis of 2016-2017. New York. ISBN 9781609807818. OCLC 1004768389.
  10. ^ "Top 25 Archive -". Project Censored. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  11. ^ Goodman, Hal (1994). "A Creeky Soapbox". Across the Board. 31 (7). p. 58.
  12. ^ "Project Censored". Editor & Publisher. 122 (23). June 10, 1989. p. 42.
  13. ^ "Project Censored". Editor & Publisher. 119 (26). June 28, 1986. p. 19.
  14. ^ "The Most 'Spiked' Stories". Editor & Publisher. 124 (4). Jan 26, 1991. p. 28.
  15. ^ Klotzer, Charles L. (Oct 2006). "Only the polluted tip of the iceberg". The St. Louis Journalism Review. 36 (290). pp. 28–29.
  16. ^ Stuttaford, Genevieve; Simson, Maria; Zaleski, Jeff (Oct 13, 1997). "20 Years of Censored News". Publishers Weekly. 244 (42): 62.
  17. ^ "The Project Censored Radio Show -". Project Censored. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  18. ^ "About the Movement: The Film,". Project Censored. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  19. ^ Hecker, Doug; Oscar, Christopher (2013-04-12), Project Censored the Movie, Nora Barrows-Friedman, Khalil Bendib, Nora Burrows-Friedman, retrieved 2018-02-05
  20. ^ ""AMOROUS PANCHO VILLA" "A COMMON MAN" Win Top Awards at 2013 Madrid International Film Festival | VIMOOZ". VIMOOZ. 2013-07-15. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  21. ^ Hausman, Tate (2000-04-25). "Project Censored, the Movie". AlterNet. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  22. ^ "Awards & Award Winners". PEN Oakland. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  23. ^ Roth, Andrew Lee; Huff, Mickey. Censored 2015 : inspiring We the people : the top censored stories and media analysis of 2013-2014 (1st ed.). New York. ISBN 1609805658. OCLC 868199592.
  24. ^ Nader, Ralph (2013-12-31). "10 Books to Provoke Conversation in the New Year". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  25. ^ Payne, Paul (April 26, 2015). "Project Censored founder Carl Jensen dies at 85". The Press Democrat. Retrieved Feb 14, 2018.
  26. ^ Jensen, Carl (1996). Censored 20th Anniversary Edition: The 1996 Project Censored Yearbook. New York: Seven Stories Press. pp. 14–15. line feed character in |title= at position 62 (help)
  27. ^ Hale, Corey (2016). News Abuse of 1999,” Censored 2000: The Year’s Top Censored Stories. New York: Seven Stories. pp. 157–163.
  28. ^ Nolan Higdon, Mickey Huff (2016). Junk Food News and News Abuse: A Brief History,” Censored 2017: Fortieth Anniversary Edition, ed. Mickey Huff and Andy Lee Roth with Project Censored. New York: Seven Stories. pp. 149–151.
  29. ^ Stelzer, CD (August 1, 2007). "Two Project Censored judges resign over 9/11 controversy". St. Louis Journalism Review. 37 (298): 20–22.
  30. ^ Fancher, Lou (March 26, 2014). "Walnut Creek: 'Project Censored' leaders discuss work, new film". The Mercury News. Retrieved Feb 14, 2018.
  31. ^ "About Validated Independent News -". Project Censored. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  32. ^ "Project Censored Turns 40". SSU News. 2016-12-13. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  33. ^ Andy Lee Roth and, Mickey Huff (2017). Censored 2018: Press Freedoms in a "Post-Truth” World. New York: Seven Stories Press. pp. 36, 39–40.
  34. ^ Hazen, Don (2000-03-31). "Beyond Project Censored: It's Time for a New Award". AlterNet. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  35. ^ "The Unbearable Lameness of Project Censored". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  36. ^ Lehrer, Eli (1998). "The great alternative press". 9 (3). The American Enterprise. pp. 15–16.
  37. ^ Powers, William (July 7, 1997). "Censor this". 217 (1). The New Republic: 15–16.
  38. ^ Ivans, Molly (September 22, 2005). "Greatest sin in today's media is laziness rather than bias". Contra Costa Times.
  39. ^ Stein, M L (Jan 30, 1993). "Project Censored". 126 (5). Editor & Publisher. p. 16.
  40. ^ Hua, Sheng (Nov 15, 2014). "Whither freedom of the US press". China Daily. Retrieved Feb 14, 2018.
  41. ^ "Iran rejects importing radio equipment". Iranian State News. October 27, 2011.

External links[edit]