From Corporate Crime to the Black Budget,

the Media missed a lot last year - again!

3papers (57K)

T here’s a tragic irony to media-watchdog Project Censored’s annual list of the 10 most under-reported national news stories If mainstream news outlets were doing their job, these could have easily have been the 10 most heavily reported stories of 1992, but alas - -

It’s fitting, by the way, that the choice for the most-ignored story of 1992 examines what’s gone wrong with the national news media. Writing in Mother Jones, (May/June 1992), Ben Bagdikian studied the cozy relationship between corporate media and the White House during the Ronald Reagan years. He found that Reagan policies helped encourage the concentration of media control in the hands of a very few giant corporations. For their part, the owners of media conglomerates explicitly ordered editors and reporters to focus on “upbeat” stories. In the midst of this “journalism of joy,” a few little downbeat trends-----a spiraling federal deficit, growing hunger, unemployment, and poverty------were ignored.

Bagdikian noted that by 1989, more than half of the U. S. Media business was controlled by 23 or fewer companies. No wonder corporate crime rarely makes the front page----and the absence of such coverage is Project Censored’s choice for the second most under-reported story. In Multinational Monitor (Dec. 1991) Russell Mokhiber takes the Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen to task for writing that “young black males commit most of the crime in Washington, D.C.” Mokhiber looks at several corporations----all convicted of environmental crimes ----whose actions endangered far more people than do street criminals, black or white

Among the several “censored” election-year issues placing third on the list is George Bush’s real record in the Gulf War, as reported in Mike Royko’s Chicago Tribune column. Instead of focusing on the much-bally-hooed technological wonders of U. S. Weaponry, Royko notes that the war tripled the death rate of Iraqi children.

The number four and five least-publicized stories of the national news media for the year 1992 also deal with the dark side of the U.S. foreign policy, namely, the U. S. role as the world’s top arms merchant and Bush’s secret arming of Saddam Hussein. Articles by Frederick Clairmonte in World Press Review (Sept. 1992) and Tristram Coffin in The Human Quest (July/Aug. 1992) examined the arms-sales issue; and War and Peace Digest (Aug. 1992)----one of several fifth-place honoree----explained: “Bush and his associates secretly sold nuclear, biological, chemical, and missile-related weapons to Saddam Hussein.” But this story and the ensuing White House cover-up-----were largely ignored by the U. S. media.

Too many news outlets just said “yes” to the Reagan administration’s “war on drugs”----and the failure of the “war” is Project Censored’s sixth under-reported story. Writing in In These Times (May 20, 1992), Mike Males reported that despite White House claims of victory in this battle, drug deaths have been steadily rising. Micah Fink’s drug-war article in Extra! (Sept. 1992) also comes in for commendation.

The media had a field day in 1992 when Dan Quayle misspelled potato. But reporters were mostly silent about the former vice-president’s behind-the-scenes attempt to gut federal regulations on big corporations----the seventh story on “ The

Top 10 Censored Stories of 1992.” Project Censored cites Christine Triano and Nancy Watzman for their look at the Bush administration’s deregulator frenzy in The Nation (March 23, 1992.) Arthur E. Rowse also reported on the subject in The Progressive (May, 1992.)

Another under-reported Bush-Regan legacy is the rise of federal secrecy. Writing in Issues in Science and Technology (Summer, 1992) Steven Aftergood ( no misprint-his real great name–Aftergood) (Should be the religious editor somewhere) chronicled the out-of-control growth in classified and top-secret documents. By last year, 1991, he reported, the U. S. Government was classifying more than 19,000 documents a day.

Ninth on the list for the past year of 1992; a report by the Washington- based Center of the Study of Commercialism documenting the ways in which advertising corrupts the press. The report was written by Ronald K. L. Collins.

Rounding out Project Censored’s list for the year 1992 is the tale of how the Defense Department’s “black budget” soared during the Reagan years, as reported by Tim Weiner in Mother Jones (March/April 1992) Not even Congress knows what’s in this $36 billion budget----and, other than some enterprising types like Weiner, few reporters seem interested.

Indeed, these days “it takes a battle to get vital information into the hands of citizens,” argues Don Hazen and Laurie Ouellette of Alternet, the alternative news service. Hazen and Ouellette have established an annual top-10 list of their own to honor “media heros”----“individuals and groups that are especially brave at taking on powerful institutions and persistent about getting stories out.”

Heading their 1992 list (Their 1992 list) are Deborah Chasnoff and the anti-nuclear activists group INFACT for making the documentary film Deadly Deception: General Electric, Nuclear Weapons and Our Environment. The movie exposes GE’s connection to the nuclear industry. Their second media hero is cartoonist. Dan Perkins, who goes by the pen name “Tom Tomorrow.” His biting, postmodern political cartoon, “This Modern world,” now appears in over 50 alternative publications (including on occasion, UTNE READER). His work is also collected in a new book, Greetings from This Modern World. (St. Martin’s Press.)

Hazen and Ouellette name woman to third-, fourth-, and fifth-place honors. The fictional TV reporter Murphy Brown and her creator, Diane English, earn commendation for their virtual-realty political battle with Dan Quale over the issue of “family values.” Barbara Trent and the Empowerment Project are saluted for the documentary film The Panama Deception, about the hidden motives behind the U. S. Invasion and its toll in death and destruction. And Los Angeles Times journalists

 Linda Williams and Andrea Ford receive praise for exposing their own paper’s inconsistent hiring and promotion practices with respect to blacks and other minorities.

Sixth on their own list are Herb Chao Gunther and his San Francisco-based advocacy advertising agency, the Public Media Center, for using ads as tools for social change. Fred Clarkson and Skip Porteus of the Institute for First Amendment Studies place seventh for reporting on, and counteracting, the activities of the Christian right. Max Weiss and the daring public television series P.O.V. earn eight-place honors, while the media-critical Adbusters magazine finishes ninth.

Final media hero honors go to Danky and the Newspaper and Periodicals Division of the Historical Society of Wisconsin. This very unconventional library in Madison, Wisconsin specializes in preserving small-circulation alternative and underground journals. As both the Project Censored and Alternet list demonstrate, such publications are of increasing importance in this era of corporate-dominated journalism.

----Miles Harvey



May/June 1993, (pgs.20-21)

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Church of the Science of GOD, 1993
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