The Year's Ten Best Censored Stories

The Progressive and In These Times top annual awards honoring important news missed by the mainstream media

| July/August 2001

Have you heard the story about corporations planning to charge you hundreds of dollars a month for your tap water? Or the one about Pentagon 'psychological operations' specialists manipulating CNN viewers? What about the highly skilled technicians in Silicon Valley who, because they are immigrants, labor under sweatshop conditions?

These were three of this year’s 'Top Ten Censored Stories,' according to Project Censored, a Sonoma, California, media watchdog group that tracks important stories underreported or blacked out by the mainstream press.

While few mainstream news organizations practice overt, top-down censorship,

stories that don’t capture a large audience, are too expensive to research, or might offend advertisers and investors often end up on the newsroom floor. Reporters and editors quickly learn to play by the narrow rules of the game and to keep their stories within a certain range of ideas and topics. On top of this self-censorship, the relentless pace of mainstream news outlets rarely allows for anything more than simplified treatment of complex subjects.

'We must redevelop news and information systems from the bottom up,' writes Peter Phillips, Project Censored’s director and a journalism professor at Sonoma State University. 'Thousands of alternative news organizations already exist. We just need to . . . put their news on the breakfast tables of millions of working people.'

1. Multinational Corporations Seek to Privatize Water

Jim Shultz, In These Times and This Magazine ; Maude Barlow, International Forum on Globalization ; Vandana Shiva, Canadian Dimension ; Daniel Zoll and Pratap Chatterjee, San Francisco Bay Guardian

Global water consumption has in-creased by 25 percent over the past 20 years, and by 2025 the demand is expected to far exceed the amount of fresh water currently available. For multinational companies, it’s a business opportunity. Monsanto corporation, for example, is aggressively marketing its water business in India and Mexico.