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“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
“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.)
“One of the most significant media research projects in the country.” —I. F. Stone
“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
“[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 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
“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.
“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
“Those who read and support Project Censored are in the know.” —Cynthia McKinney
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 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.
“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 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
“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.
“[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

“Voluntourism” Exposed: What Americans Don’t Know About New “Social Impact” Vacation Cruises

In April 2016, the new cruise ship “Fathom,” owned by one of the large corporate players in the overseas travel industry, Carnival Cruises, was released for its first trip ever, to the Dominican Republic. Aboard this vessel were hundreds of customers waiting to experience the joy and fulfillment of combining their vacation with the chance to provide service to communities in underdeveloped countries. This form of traveling is referred to as “voluntourism” or socially responsible tourism (SRT), which is promoted as one way that members of wealthy countries can support developing ones through vacations organized as volunteer and mission trips. Although these trips sound effective and appealing at first, they often have underlying problems that pose threats to the economy and wellbeing of community members in host countries.

The popularity of international travel and volunteering has been increasing since the 1990s and has become an important status symbol in social corporate responsibility as well as in the development of young adults wanting to build their experience. One of the most publicized experiences offered are visits to orphanages where voluntourists can laugh and play with young locals. As a result of this demand, however, orphanages have begun to exploit children.

This exploitation begins with the separation of children from their families who are unable to provide for them, and willingly give up their children for the promise that they will be compensated with food or money. “80% of children in orphanages in Uganda have at least one living parent,” according to a report in the Guardian. With the hype and social media coverage around orphanage volunteerism, there is more of an incentive for poor adults in developing countries to run false orphanages in order to embezzle money. Sympathetic Americans participating in voluntourism may unwittingly contribute to these unjust operations.

With new cruise ships, like the “Fathom” hitting the US travel market, there is further encouragement for the practice of orphanage trafficking. It is also important to see that the workers exploiting these children are not the only ones taking advantage of the emphasis on volunteerism. The large million-dollar corporations that operate these new cruise ships are using countries that are stifled with poverty and crumbling infrastructure as a selling point to amass bigger profits. With basic business marketing strategies, like changing the description of these trips from a “voluntourism” experience to a “social impact” experience, these cruise lines can trick the American public into thinking they are providing long term benefits for communities.

Many corporate media outlets have reported on the idea hybrid vacations that mix traditional cruise features with volunteer service, but they have failed to tell the whole story. The New York Times talked briefly of the controversial topic of “voluntourism” and the economics of it, but focused mainly on the benefits of social impact cruises, calling them a “legitimate travel niche”. Other large media outlets that reported on this topic included the Huffington Post and the Los Angeles Times. Both media sources claimed that cruise line operators intend to address the negative aspects of “voluntourism,” while also providing readers with cruise pricing and benefits.

Sources:

“SRT: The Negative Impacts of Voluntourism & Fathom Cruises,” Una Vaina Bien Spanish, December 16, 2016, http://www.unavainabienspanish.com/srt-fathom-cruises/.

Mark Riley, “Volunteers are Fueling the Growth of Orphanages in Uganda,” Guardian, May 16, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2016/may/16/volunteers-stop-visiting-orphanages-start-preserving-families.

Student Researcher: Kelsey Sparrow (University of Vermont)

Faculty Evaluator: Rob Williams (University of Vermont)

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