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“Hot news, cold truths, utterly uncensored.” —Greg Palast
“Those who read and support Project Censored are in the know.” —Cynthia McKinney
“The staff of Project Censored presents their annual compilation of the previous year’s 25 stories most overlooked by the mainstream media along with essays about censorship and its consequences. The stories include an 813% rise in hate and anti-government groups since 2008, human rights violations by the US Border Patrol, and Israeli doctors injecting Ethiopian immigrants with birth control without their consent. Other stories focus on the environment, like the effects of fracking and Monsantos GMO seeds. The writers point out misinformation and outright deception in the media, including CNN relegating factual accounts to the “opinion” section and the whitewashing of Margaret Thatcher’s career following her death in 2013, unlike Hugo Chavez, who was routinely disparaged in the coverage following his death. One essay deals with the proliferation of “Junk Food News,” in which “CNN and Fox News devoted more time to ‘Gangnam Style’ than the renewal of Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ law.” Another explains common media manipulation tactics and outlines practices to becoming a more engaged, free-thinking news consumer or even citizen journalist. Rob Williams remarks on Hollywood’s “deep and abiding role as a popular propaganda provider” via Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. An expose on working conditions in Chinese Apple factories is brutal yet essential reading. This book is evident of Project Censored’s profoundly important work in educating readers on current events and the skills needed to be a critical thinker.” -Publisher’s Weekly said about Censored 2014 (Oct.)
“Activist groups like Project Censored . . . are helping to build the media democracy movement. We have to challenge the powers that be and rebuild media from the bottom up.” —Amy Goodman
“In another home run for Project Censored, Censored 2013 shows how the American public has been bamboozled, snookered, and dumbed down by the corporate media. It is chock-full of ‘ah-ha’ moments where we understand just how we’ve been fleeced by banksters, stripped of our civil liberties, and blindly led down a path of never-ending war.” –Medea Benjamin, author of Drone Warfare, cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK.
Buy it, read it, act on it. Our future depends on the knowledge this col-lection of suppressed stories allows us.” —San Diego Review
“Project Censored continues to be an invaluable resource in exposing and highlighting shocking stories that are routinely minimized or ignored by the corporate media. The vital nature of this work is underscored by this year’s NSA leaks. The world needs more brave whistle blowers and independent journalists in the service of reclaiming democracy and challenging the abuse of power. Project Censored stands out for its commitment to such work.” —Deepa Kumar, author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire and associate professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University
“Censored 2014 is a clarion call for truth telling. Not only does this volume highlight fearless speech in fateful times, it connect the dots between the key issues we face, lauds our whistleblowers and amplifies their voices, and shines light in the dark places of our government that most need exposure.” –Daniel Ellsberg, The Pentagon Papers
“Project Censored interrogates the present in the same way that Oliver Stone and I tried to interrogate the past in our Untold History of the United States. It not only shines a penetrating light on the American Empire and all its deadly, destructive, and deceitful actions, it does so at a time when the Obama administration is mounting a fierce effort to silence truth-tellers and whistleblowers. Project Censored provides the kind of fearless and honest journalism we so desperately need in these dangerous times.” —Peter Kuznick, professor of history, American University, and coauthor, with Oliver Stone, of The Untold History of the United States
“Project Censored brings to light some of the most important stories of the year that you never saw or heard about. This is your chance to find out what got buried.” –Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System.
“For ages, I’ve dreamed of a United States where Project Censored isn’t necessary, where these crucial stories and defining issues are on the front page of the New York Times, the cover of Time, and in heavy rotation on CNN. That world still doesn’t exist, but we always have Project Censored’s yearly book to pull together the most important things the corporate media ignored, missed, or botched.” –Russ Kick, author of You Are Being Lied To, Everything You Know Is Wrong, and the New York Times bestselling series The Graphic Canon.
“Most journalists in the United States believe the press here is free. That grand illusion only helps obscure the fact that, by and large, the US corporate press does not report what’s really going on, while tuning out, or laughing off, all those who try to do just that. Americans–now more than ever–need those outlets that do labor to report some truth. Project Censored is not just among the bravest, smartest, and most rigorous of those outlets, but the only one that’s wholly focused on those stories that the corporate press ignores, downplays, and/or distorts. This latest book is therefore a must read for anyone who cares about this country, its tottering economy, and–most important– what’s now left of its democracy.” –Mark Crispin Miller, author, professor of media ecology, New York University.
“[Censored] should be affixed to the bulletin boards in every newsroom in America. And, perhaps read aloud to a few publishers and television executives.” —Ralph Nader
“Project Censored shines a spotlight on news that an informed public must have . . . a vital contribution to our democratic process.” —Rhoda H. Karpatkin, president, Consumer’s Union
“One of the most significant media research projects in the country.” —I. F. Stone
“At a time when the need for independent journalism and for media outlets unaffiliated with and untainted by the government and corporate sponsors is greater than ever, Project Censored has created a context for reporting the complete truths in all matters that matter. . . . It is therefore left to us to find sources for information we can trust. . . . It is in this task that we are fortunate to have an ally like Project Cen-sored.” —Dahr Jamail
“Project Censored is one of the organizations that we should listen to, to be assured that our newspapers and our broadcasting outlets are practicing thorough and ethical journalism.” —Walter Cronkite
“[Censored] offers devastating evidence of the dumbing-down of main-stream news in America. . . . Required reading for broadcasters, journalists, and well-informed citizens.” —Los Angeles Times

#10 2016: A Record Year for Global Internet Shutdowns

Governments around the world shut down Internet access more than fifty times in 2016, Lyndal Rowlands reported for the Inter Press Service (IPS) in December of that year. Around the world, governments shutting down Internet access limited freedom of speech, swayed elections, and damaged economies. “In the worst cases,” Rowlands wrote, “Internet shutdowns have been associated with human rights violations,” as happened in Ethiopia and Uganda. The IPS report quoted Deji Olukotun, a senior manager at digital rights organization Access Now: “What we have found is that Internet shutdowns go hand in hand with atrocities.”

As Kevin Collier reported for Vocativ, Access Now documented fifty-three instances in 2016 in which national governments shut down the Internet for all or part of a country, “throttled” access speeds to make the Internet essentially unusable, or blocked specific communication methods. These fifty-three instances represent a sharp uptick in government shutdowns of the Internet, following on from the fifteen shutdowns identified by Access Now in 2015. As Collier noted, Access Now uses a “conservative metric,” counting “repeated, similar outages”—like those which occurred during Gabon’s widely criticized Internet “curfew”—as a single instance. (The Vocativ report included a dynamic map chart, designed by Kaitlyn Kelly, that vividly depicts Internet shutdowns around the world, month by month for all of 2016, as documented by Access Now.)

Many countries intentionally blacked out Internet access during elections and to quell protest. Not only do these shutdowns restrict freedom of speech, they also hurt economies around the world. TechCrunch, IPS, and other independent news organizations reported that a Brookings Institution study found that Internet shutdowns cost countries $2.4 billion between July 2015 and June 2016. The biggest losses were in India (an estimated $968 million), Saudi Arabia ($465 million), and Morocco ($320 million). The author of the Brookings study, Darrell West, cautioned that the figures are only estimates, but that the actual economic costs are likely to be even higher. “The $2.4 billion figure is a conservative estimate that likely understates the actual economic damage,” West wrote, because it does not include “lost tax revenues associated with blocked digital access, impact on worker productivity, barriers to business expansion connected with these shutdowns, or the loss of investor, consumer, and business confidence resulting from such disruptions.” Overall, the Brookings study noted, “As long as political authorities continue to disrupt internet activity, it will be difficult for impacted nations to reap the full benefits of the digital economy.”

As Olukotun, the Access Now manager, told IPS, one way to stop government shutdowns is for Internet providers to resist government demands. “Telecommunications companies can push back on government orders, or at least document them to show what’s been happening, to at least have a paper trail,” Olukotun observed. He also called on international organizations—including the International Telecommunications Union, which is the UN agency for information and communication technologies—to issue statements in response to specific incidents.

On July 1, 2016, in a nonbinding resolution signed by more than seventy countries, the UN Human Rights Council lauded the Internet’s “great potential to accelerate human progress,” and it condemned “measures to intentionally prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information online.” According to the resolution, “the exercise of human rights, in particular the right to freedom of expression, on the Internet is an issue of increasing interest and importance.”

Yet, as Azad Essa reported for Al Jazeera in May 2017, “understanding what this means for internet users can be difficult.” For the sixth straight year Freedom House, a US-based freedom of expression watchdog, found that Internet freedom around the world had declined, Essa reported. Freedom House found that two-thirds of the world’s Internet users “live in countries where criticism of the government, military, or ruling family [is] subject to censorship.” According to their “Freedom on the Net 2016” report, thirty-four of the sixty-five countries studied have been “on a negative trajectory” since June 2015, with the steepest declines in Uganda, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ecuador, and Libya. Freedom House documented new restrictions on messaging apps, social media users facing unprecedented penalties, governments censoring more diverse content, and security measures threatening free speech and advocacy—even as online activism “reaches new heights.” Underscoring the importance of online freedoms, Freedom House noted that in more than two-thirds of the countries studied, “internet-based activism has led to some sort of tangible outcome, from the defeat of a restrictive legislative proposal to the exposure of corruption through citizen journalism.”

The UN’s special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, told Al Jazeera that advocates of online rights “need to be constantly pushing for laws that protect this space and demand that governments meet their obligations in digital spaces just as in non-digital spaces.”

Corporate news coverage of Internet shutdowns tends to focus on specific countries, especially ones in Africa. For instance, in September 2016, CNN reported on the extraordinary Internet shutdown in Gabon. Although this coverage made passing reference to Access Now’s findings on Internet disruptions around the world, it focused on the specific details of the shutdown in Gabon, which included Internet “curfews” and the government’s total blocking of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. A February 2017 New York Times report focused on Internet shutdowns in Cameroon, Gambia, and the Republic of Congo. This report also cited the Brookings Institution report on the economic costs of shutdowns. However, corporate coverage tends not to address the larger, global scope of Internet shutdowns—and, unlike independent news coverage, these reports tend not to address how Internet providers might resist government demands.

Devin Coldewey, “Study Estimates Cost of Last Year’s Internet Shutdowns at $2.4 Billion,” TechCrunch, October 24, 2016, https://techcrunch.com/2016/10/24/study-suggests-internet-shutdowns-may-cost-countries-billions/.

Kevin Collier, “Governments Loved to Shut Down the Internet in 2016—Here’s Where,” Vocativ, December 23, 2016, http://www.vocativ.com/386042/internet-access-shut-off-censorship/.

Lyndal Rowlands, “More Than 50 Internet Shutdowns in 2016,” Inter Press Service, December 30, 2016, http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/12/more-than-50-internet-shutdowns-in-2016/.

Azad Essa, “What Can the UN Do If Your Country Cuts the Internet?” Al Jazeera, May 8, 2017, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/05/country-cuts-internet-170504064432840.html.

Student Researcher: Hugo Sousa (Citrus College)

Faculty Evaluator: Andy Lee Roth (Citrus College)

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