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ignored, misreported, or poorly covered
September 9, 2007 9:41 AM   Subscribe

10 big stories the US news media missed in the past year.
posted by nickyskye (46 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
From Project Censored, previously seen here, here, here, here, and probably elsewhere on MeFi.
posted by RogerB at 9:56 AM on September 9, 2007


counterpoint: the Unbearable Lameness of Project Censored (2000)

"Moon of Alabama: Where Barflies Get Together" breaks the heard-hitting stories that no one else is willing to touch?
posted by Challahtronix at 9:59 AM on September 9, 2007


Vandana Shiva, who for 10 years has been studying the effects of bad trade deals on India, has published a report titled Seeds of Suicide, which recounts the deaths of more than 28,000 farmers who killed themselves in despair over the debts brought on them by binding agreements ultimately favoring corporations.

.
posted by mek at 10:01 AM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Challah: awww, how cute, a liberal catfight. Putting aside the fact that the story is from 2000, I think MJ just misses the point entirely:

The articles on this year's list appeared in dozens of publications, from our own Mother Jones to Dollars and Sense, The Nation, and The Village Voice -- all reputable and reasonably well-known publications.


Yeah, and Democracy Now covered most of this latest list... but we're talking grossly underreported stories, not "completely ignored by everyone on earth" stories. Because by definition, we wouldn't be capable of talking about those. And this list succeeds in bringing attention to stories that even I missed, and I READ METAFILTER. So thanks, Project Censored.
posted by mek at 10:06 AM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Missed Story #11 - Media Watchdog group releases Top Ten list. Murdoch contemplates re-convening HUAC.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 10:07 AM on September 9, 2007


project falcon is something worth paying attention too. the fact that the government has rounded up something close to 8000 individuals around the country without any explanation as to what they were arrested for is rather ominous.
posted by andywolf at 10:34 AM on September 9, 2007


So Mother Jones is all about fear, fear fear and more fear ? It's curious they haven't covered methane in sewer system, it could explode ! And an article on how something is lame ....cool , the first impression is that of yet another imitation of Fox News.

Particularly interesting : the story about infrastructure disaster or how the national street system needs maintenance. In a parallel case, in Italy some govt gave up maintenance of the most profiteable highways (toll system) with questionable result, but unquestionable big profits for the companies that got the contracts. There is an indeed a limit to how tarifs can be modified by the privates, but if you cut here and there one doesn't need to maintain that much, you just need to leave all the troubles just before the bridge collapses.
posted by elpapacito at 10:47 AM on September 9, 2007


Odd, somehow I was aware of every one of these censored stories (though I grant you none of them was in Junior Scholastic.) Fuller fails at media censorship?
posted by jfuller at 11:15 AM on September 9, 2007


Well, I hadn't heard of the "Operation Talon" thing, nor the reemergence of bilateral trade agreements.
posted by delmoi at 11:19 AM on September 9, 2007


Project Censored director: "We need to broaden our understanding of censorship"

Well, I'm not so sure we do. Calling these stories 'censored' does make people who already agree with you feel all virtuous and Solidarność, but actually in this case it means 'stories that should have had more coverage, in my personal opinion'.

I mean this paragraph:
Without a doubt, the government invests in shaping our beliefs. "Every day they're checking out what we think," [a Project Censored supporter] said. "The erosion of civil liberties is not happening in one fell swoop but in increments. Very consciously, this administration has been heading toward a general autocracy."
Might as well be about the UN taking over in their black helicopters.
posted by athenian at 11:28 AM on September 9, 2007


Yeah, I was prepared to roll my eyes again this year and link to "The Unbearable Lameness of Project Censored (2000)" but after actually having RTFA I must admit that most of these stories have received little or no comprehensive coverage in the major media. Oh, and they seem pretty danged important to me...
posted by twsf at 11:30 AM on September 9, 2007


Calling these stories 'censored' does make people who already agree with you feel all virtuous and Solidarność,

All virtuous and anti-communist?
posted by oneirodynia at 11:57 AM on September 9, 2007


Thanks, nickyskye, I hadn't seen most of these.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:57 AM on September 9, 2007


oneirodynia - all virtuous and resisting the oppressive heel of a totalitarian state is what I was thinking of.
posted by athenian at 12:27 PM on September 9, 2007


Normally, my eyes glaze over a bit with outrage fatigue when these things come out...but 2, 3, 5 and 6 in the list are actually interesting.

#1 has been reported...I'm not sure if the media should be blamed for not explaining it enough, or the general public should be blamed for being ignorant and apathetic, or if U.S. education should be blamed for not teaching people what's in the constitution in the first place.
posted by gimonca at 12:39 PM on September 9, 2007


Haven't the rumors for a "10-lane NAFTA superhighway" been debunked? Trying to remember where I saw that.
posted by thatswherebatslive at 12:40 PM on September 9, 2007


Seems like Blackwater has gotten plenty of press.
posted by smackfu at 12:50 PM on September 9, 2007


Haven't the rumors for a "10-lane NAFTA superhighway" been debunked? Trying to remember where I saw that.

Is this article from The Nation what you're thinking of?
posted by naoko at 1:39 PM on September 9, 2007


"outrage fatigue"...I like that.

I'm not beyond beliving it could be one factor accounted for in some PR guru's "how do we shove as much crap down the people's throat without them spitting anything back at us" spreadsheet.

It's enough to make me suddenly sleepy.
posted by Bokononist at 1:42 PM on September 9, 2007


I'm trying to decide after perusing the list of "big stories" that the original link *thinks* is newsworthy whether or not I agree with it. Surely the outrageous attack on our constitution by 'neo-cons' and fundamentalist fearmongers is pretty heavy stuff, but what IS news, anyway?

News should be new, it should be close to home either literally or figuratively, it generally deals with prominent figures in society as opposed to complete strangers - individuals that the news recipient knows in one form or another, news usually utilizes conflict, is oftentimes odd, illicits emotion from the recipient or provides entertainment value (otherwise they won't pay attention), and it should be made clear to the viewer that there are consequences for this event that will affect them.

The news events on the list fail in one or more of these categories. In some cases, it fits all the criteria except the emotional or entertainment category. "hard nosed journalists" may think that an irrelevant category, but the fact is if you can't find a way to make a news story "sexy" or enticing to your audience... you won't have one.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:06 PM on September 9, 2007


That Nation article was interesting, naoko, thanks. It takes apart the larger-than-life myth of the NAFTA Superhighway while pointing out the smaller but still disturbing deal-making that's going on with public highways all over the country:

On the same day the Indiana Toll Road deal closed, another Australian toll road operator, Transurban, paid more than half a billion dollars for a 99-year lease on Virginia's Pocahontas Parkway, and the Texas Transportation Commission green-lighted a $1.3 billion bid by Cintra and construction behemoth Zachry Construction to build and operate a 40-mile toll road out of Austin. Many similar deals are now on the horizon, and mig and Cintra are often part of them. So is Goldman Sachs, the huge Wall Street firm that has played a remarkable role advising states on how to structure privatization deals—even while positioning itself to invest in the toll road market.

Goldman Sachs' role has not been lost on skeptics, who accuse the firm of playing both sides of the fence. "In essence, they're double-dipping," says Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, a truckers' group that opposes toll road privatization. "They're basically in the middle, playing one side against the other, and it's really, really lucrative."

posted by mediareport at 2:33 PM on September 9, 2007


Eh. Some of these stories are pretty deserving of being ignored, but I don't understand the hate - there's some good stuff here as well. Take what's worth it, leave the rest.
posted by Anduruna at 2:57 PM on September 9, 2007


Project Censored proclaims stories that have been "missed" or "buried" or "censored," as if they are the owners of one big objective truth, and if we were to all just come together and smile on your brother, try to love one another right now, we'd all learn to know this truth.

In reality, it's just another subjective take on events, the facts of which make not even be close to what is being reported, and all wrapped up in explosive language (shanghaied slaves? bitch, please) that skews the landscape even further.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:18 PM on September 9, 2007


I look forward to these Project Censored lists. I used to run a blog for under-reported news. (I dropped that past-time because it was stressful and largely redundant with higher-traffic blogs.) As a result, there were a number of stories this year that I did not know, or knew of only by vague second-hand. Thanks for the post, nickyskye!
posted by McLir at 5:14 PM on September 9, 2007


I'm surprised that no one has made any hay about the fact that the Mother Jones article dates to pre-9/11. In terms of reporting on our current news process, it's ancient history.
posted by JHarris at 5:24 PM on September 9, 2007


smackfu : Seems like Blackwater has gotten plenty of press.
Too late, since they have gone too far.
posted by nims at 5:40 PM on September 9, 2007


So Cool Papa Bell, what do you call violations of human trafficking where labor is forced and passports are confiscated? I don't find it melodramatic in the least to assign the terms Shanghaied and slavery to such practices.

And as the above link shows, it's not that these stories get NO coverage, it's that given the gravity of the issues, they are all but ignored by mainstream media, particularly TV where tons of people get their news. How different would things be if the media spent at least as much time reporting on threats to the constitution as they did to Paris Hilton's jail story?
posted by madamjujujive at 5:44 PM on September 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


So Cool Papa Bell, what do you call violations of human trafficking where labor is forced and passports are confiscated?

Well, for one thing, I wouldn't call it being shanghaied, because that's a deliberate reference to violent kidnapping practices from the 18th and 19th century, where press gangs would literally round up able-bodied seamen and beat them unconscious before tossing them aboard ship.

The authors are deliberately using a term of hyperbole in order to frame the article in a certain way to stoke the passions of the readers.

Moreover, the use of the terms "slavery" and "human trafficking" raises other inferences that aren't the case in these stories. If you read between the lines of these stories, you see they're mostly about garden-variety contractual disputes.

That's not to say trickery/violence/extortion doesn't exist. In my former career as a professional journalist, I covered real cases of human trafficking and sweatshop labor right in downtown Los Angeles, where Thai women were literally kidnapped, bought and sold and chained to a sewing machine.

But my beef is specific to Project Censored's sense of news judgment and presentation, not the veracity of any specific claim. When someone says a story has been "buried" or "censored," the inference is that there has been a deliberate action to remove the facts from view for nefarious purposes.

When in truth, it's usually that the story is murky to begin with, and news judgment leads the media elsewhere.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:55 PM on September 9, 2007


Is there something about "ignored, misreported, or poorly covered" that's difficult for you to understand, Papa?
posted by mediareport at 7:25 PM on September 9, 2007


Is there something about "ignored, misreported, or poorly covered" that's difficult for you to understand, Papa?

"Ignored, misreported or poorly covered" are all subjective terms. Is it difficult for you to understand that someone could be misreporting that something has been misreported? Is it difficult for you to understand that there's a difference between when something is "ignored" and when something is merely "considered, found wanting and rejected."

I mean, half the population of the U.S. believes that Christian angels walk the earth, righting wrongs and slaying demons. If true, that'd be a hell of a story, right (ha ha? So where's Project Censored's essay about the underreporting of the activities of angels? Doesn't exist, right? So, Project Censored is Exercising. News. Judgment. Just like everyone else in the media.

Instead of saying, "here's some new stories you might not have heard," Project Censored is packaging its content from the angle of saying, "You fuckers are doing it wrong."

It's belittling. It's also often inaccurate. Don't believe everything you read, no matter where it comes from.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:56 PM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


madamjujujive: "How different would things be if the media spent at least as much time reporting on threats to the constitution as they did to Paris Hilton's jail story?"

Yes, you're absolutely right it'd be different. Even more people would stop watching television news. I'm really hoping these guys prove me wrong but it's not looking like it. I don't think your mainstream audience wants to be educated. I think they're rooting for the constitution to go the way of the dodo. Why? Well for one thing they don't know how to spell the word constitution, secondly they don't really know what it means, and third they don't care. Fourth, it has no cleavage, no car chase scenes, and the Constitution isn't offering to save money on their car insurance.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:13 PM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


The authors are deliberately using a term of hyperbole in order to frame the article in a certain way to stoke the passions of the readers.

And? This a column in the Bay Guardian, not the front page of the Washington Post.
posted by eddydamascene at 8:34 PM on September 9, 2007


If you read between the lines of these stories, you see they're mostly about garden-variety contractual disputes.

Workers were told they were going to work in Dubai; by the time they found themselves in Baghdad, their passports had been confiscated. I do not want to go to your garden.
posted by stammer at 8:57 PM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


And? This a column in the Bay Guardian, not the front page of the Washington Post.

I'm sorry, does the publication's size allow it to hew to a different ethical standard? Because no one's reading it, I get to lie on my blog now? Cool!

This is Project Censored we're talking about, the guys with the Walter Cronkite log-rolling quote on the front page.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:59 PM on September 9, 2007


Whoa, that's a mighty big chip there, Papa. Listen, some of us already know that PC's list is an exercise in news judgment. Duh, kind of hard to miss. Some of us also know they're trumpeting their stories loudly as deserving more coverage, and attacking the mainstream press for its news judgment. This is all "duh" territory. I fail to see what has you so outraged.
posted by mediareport at 9:04 PM on September 9, 2007


Workers were told they were going to work in Dubai

You read a third-hand report that said workers were told they were going to work in Dubai, without any other corroboration. And you believed it and now you're parroting it back to me.

Here's an interesting exercise for you guys. Go read this article about journalistic fumbles and disseminations from the 2000 Gore campaign, where video of the facts exist and the fumbles and misquotes were still repeated.

Then come back and tell me there's no chance these "underreported stories" aren't at least murky and requiring further investigation. You know, before we start throwing bombs about "censored stories."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:06 PM on September 9, 2007


The top U.S. commander in Iraq has ordered sweeping changes for privatized military support operations after confirming violations of human-trafficking laws and other abuses by contractors involving possibly thousands of foreign workers on American bases, according to records obtained by the Tribune.

Gen. George Casey ordered that contractors be required by May 1 to return passports that have been illegally confiscated from laborers on U.S. bases after determining that such practices violated U.S. laws against trafficking for forced or coerced labor. Human brokers and subcontractors from South Asia to the Middle East have worked together to import thousands of laborers into Iraq from impoverished countries.

Two memos obtained by the Tribune indicate that Casey's office concluded that the practice of confiscating passports from such workers was both widespread on American bases and in violation of the U.S. trafficking laws.


The article goes on to say the military also confirmed a host of other abuses. Why has this received so little attention in the US mainstream media?

We are in agreement on your final point, Cool Papa Bell - these stories require further investigation. That's the point, the media is not giving them the attention they deserve - whether it be to corroborate or disprove them.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:31 PM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


You read a third-hand report that said workers were told they were going to work in Dubai, without any other corroboration.

Okay, Bishop Berkeley. Do we even know that Dubai exists at all?
posted by stammer at 9:39 PM on September 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry, does the publication's size allow it to hew to a different ethical standard?

Do you expect dispassionate reporting in a free "alternative" weekly?
posted by eddydamascene at 7:03 AM on September 10, 2007


Do you expect dispassionate reporting in a free "alternative" weekly?

Yes. So should you. I'm sorry that you're apparently OK with people occasionally lying to you. Peace out.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:36 PM on September 10, 2007


Okay, Bishop Berkeley. Do we even know that Dubai exists at all?

Please, please, please, let me sell you something! Because you seem to be OK with murky reasoning and appeals to emotion. I have the deed to this bridge right here ...

Seriously. Don't believe everything you read.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:39 PM on September 10, 2007


Hey Papa, you got any of that good tar water? I need my fix, man. People keep kicking rocks at me and I can't take it anymore.
posted by homunculus at 9:36 PM on September 10, 2007


Hey Papa, you got any of that good tar water?

Like, wow. You know how to use Wikipedia. We're all very impressed.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:02 PM on September 11, 2007


Cool Papa Bell: "Because no one's reading it, I get to lie on my blog now? Cool!"

Heck that's what I been doing in my blog for a decade and no one's noticed.

Which reminds me. This month marks my ten year anniversary of 'blogging' (back in the old days we called it being a 'diarist'). I wonder if I should celebrate or something?

...no one's been reading my crap so I honestly don't know why I should celebrate.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:33 PM on September 11, 2007


coolpapabell

operation falcon, using the marshals own figures they've got about 8000 people unaccounted for. i totally agree with your sentiment that people will latch onto stories a little too easily if it suits their sense of injustice. but both sides are guilty of that, limbaugh and o'reilly aren't exactly known for fact checking. operation falcon is pretty alarming, especially that it's gotten no coverage anywhere, save for a quick little mention in local news regarding a local raid. or for the very first operation.
posted by andywolf at 7:28 PM on September 13, 2007


Oh, hey, this week KPFA broadcast a really good speech by Peter Phillips, the director of Project Censored. Available for download or streaming here, backup link here.
posted by salvia at 7:38 PM on September 29, 2007


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