Project Censored educates students and the public about the importance of a truly free press for democratic self-government. We expose and oppose news censorship and we promote independent investigative journalism, media literacy, and critical thinking.
Promoting Media Literacy and Democracy
An informed public is crucial to democracy in at least two basic ways. First, without access to relevant news and opinion, people cannot fully participate in government. Second, without media literacy, people cannot evaluate for themselves the quality or significance of the news they receive. Censorship undermines democracy. Project Censored’s work—including our annual book, weekly radio broadcasts, campus affiliates program, and additional community events—highlights the important links among a free press, media literacy and democratic self-government.
In 1976, Dr. Carl Jensen founded Project Censored at Sonoma State University as a media research program with a focus on student development of media literacy and critical thinking skills as applied to the news media censorship in the US. Each year the Project researches, vets, and compiles the Top Twenty Five most censored and under-reported news stories in the US, and offers scholarly analysis and critiques, which are published by Seven Stories Press.
Sociologist Dr. Peter Phillips became director in 1996 and continued to expand the annual book and educational outreach. In 2000, the Project came under the oversight of the non-profit Media Freedom Foundation, founded by Jensen and Phillips, to ensure its independence.
Professor Mickey Huff of Diablo Valley College became director in 2010. Working with associate director Dr. Andy Lee Roth, he has extended the Project’s educational reach beyond Sonoma State University, expanding the Campus Affiliates Program launched in 2009. The Campus Affiliates Program now connects hundreds of faculty and students at colleges and universities across the US and around the world in the collective effort of identifying and researching each year’s top Censored news stories. In addition to the campus affiliates program, Project Censored continues to foster relations with numerous independent media groups and free speech organizations.
Since its founding, Project Censored has trained over 2,500 students in media literacy and has received numerous honors, including two Firecracker Alternative Book Awards, the 2008 PEN Oakland National Literary Censorship Award, and in 2013 became part of the National Coalition Against Censorship.
A note from Dan Simon, Publisher, Seven Stories Press, New York, NY
Simon and SSP have published each annual edition of Censored since 1996
That Project Censored has survived and thrived for forty years is a testament to this incredible team of people and also to the enduring power of the idea that monitoring news censorship can keep our democracy going. Real democracy in America is constantly under assault, but the simple fact that Project Censored exists means that the kind of investigative reporting the Project celebrates, and the publications that support investigative reporting, have a forum and even a reward for their efforts and talent and sacrifice.
I remember meeting intrepid reporters like Gary Webb and Sidney Wolfe and so many others through Project Censored, including young journalists who were being celebrated for a story they’d written and it may have been the first time a story they’d written had a life beyond initial publication. And it felt great, like we were on the winning team.
So much of this kind of research and nonfiction writing happens in isolation, even extending to and including publication. I remember that, often, it was at the Project Censored Awards that writer and publisher met in person for the first time.
For four decades Project Censored has also initiated thousands of college students into the world of censorship and investigative reporting, not only at Sonoma State University where the Project was founded in 1976, but also at dozens of colleges and universities around the country.
Under successive directors, founder Carl Jensen, then Peter Phillips, and now Mickey Huff with Andy Lee Roth, the Project has continued its work as one of America’s strongest alternative media institutions.
As Project Censored’s publisher through all but one of the years that they have produced an annual volume of censored stories, Censored, I’ve been amazed at the resilience and joyfulness this organization has shown, year after year. Forever young, and ever more important, Project Censored makes us all better-informed and more empowered as citizens.
Written for the Project’s 40th anniversary edition