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“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.
“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
“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.)
“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.
“[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
“Hot news, cold truths, utterly uncensored.” —Greg Palast
“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
“Those who read and support Project Censored are in the know.” —Cynthia McKinney
“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
“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.
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 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
“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.
“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
“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
“[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

16. Over Three-Quarters of Freedom of Information Act Requests Not Fully Answered

On his election, President Obama promised greater governmental transparency to the American people. In practice, the Obama administration has set a record for failures to find and produce government documents in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. As Ted Bridis and Jack Gillum reported for the Associated Press’s Big Story, in response to FOIA requests, 129,825 times during the 2015 fiscal year—or more than one in every six cases—government searchers said they came up empty-handed. Overall, Bridis and Gillum wrote, “People who asked for records under the law received censored files or nothing in 77 percent of requests, also a record.” The 77 percent figure represents a 12 percent increase, compared with the first full year after President Obama’s election.

Signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1966, the Freedom of Information Act encourages and enforces government disclosures to citizens and foreigners who request federal records, with exemptions for disclosures that would threaten national security, violate personal privacy, or expose confidential decision-making in certain areas.

Censorship and refusal to disclose are only two parts of a three-piece puzzle, the last being human error. As Bridis and Gillum reported, federal workers and the procedures they use to retrieve requested files also contribute to the problem. Though federal workers are required by law to make a reasonable search for requested files, the means of doing so are left to their discretion. “Skepticism,” Bridis and Gillum wrote, has led many experts making FOIA requests to specify “exactly how they want federal employees to search files.” Official efforts are reportedly underway to address this issue, by implementing specific guidelines, methods, and even lists of search terms to use.

However, an already overworked government staff will be challenged to implement the recommended improvements. As Bridis and Gillum reported, in 2015 the total number of FOIA requests increased 19 percent, compared to the previous year. During that time the number of new, full-time workers handling FOIA requests rose only 7 percent.

Though the corporate press, including the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, have run stories on the Obama administration’s efforts to improve government transparency, most of these articles predate the dramatic increase in the number of FOIA requests that the Obama administration has failed to respond to adequately. And, whereas corporate media have focused on the president and his administration, Bridis and Gillum focus on the role of the government agencies actually tasked with responding to FOIA requests. A March 2015 story in the Washington Post drew largely from a previous report by Ted Bridis. US News & World Report reran Bridis and Gillum’s report, as did the Wall Street Journal. Notably, however, the Journal ran it as an opinion piece.

 


Ted Bridis and Jack Gillum, “US Gov’t Sets Record for Failures to Find Files When Asked,” Big Story (Associated Press), March 18, 2016, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/697e3523003049cdb0847ecf828afd62/us-govt-sets-record-failures-find-files-when-asked.

Student Researcher: Alexis Marie Tunstad (Citrus College)

Faculty Evaluator: Andy Lee Roth (Citrus College)

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