Friday, September 18, 2020
News + Politics Censored: Ten big stories the news media ignored

Censored: Ten big stories the news media ignored

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Even in the social-media era, when a small news outlet can create a viral story, some of the biggest news of the past year never got to most of the public

Illustration by Khalil Bendib. www.bendib.com
Illustration by Khalil Bendib. www.bendib.com

By Tim Redmond

OCTOBER 15, 2015 — In 1976, when Carl Jensen, a professor at California’s Sonoma State University, started looking into news-media self-censorship, nobody had ever dreamed of the Internet. Most computers will still big mainframes with whirling tape reels; Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak had just figured out how to make a personal computer, but sales were in the low hundreds.

Back then, the vast majority of Americans got their news – all of their news – from one daily newspaper and one of the three big TV networks. If a story wasn’t on ABC, NCB, or CBS, it might as well not have happened.

Almost 40 years later, the media world has radically changed. Now we’re more likely to read our news on Facebook than watch the CBS Evening News; daily newspapers all over the country are struggling, in some cases dying. A story that appears on one obscure outlet can suddenly be a viral sensation reaching millions of readers at the speed of light.

And yet, as the group Jensen founded, Project Censored, has found, there are still numerous big, important news stories that receive very little exposure.

As Project staffers Mickey Huff and Andy Lee Roth note, 90 percent of US news media – the traditional outlets that employ full-time reporters – are controlled by six corporations. “The corporate media,” the write in this year’s project intro, “hardly represent the mainstream.

“By contrast, the independent journalists that Project Censored has celebrated since its inception are now understood as vital components of what experts have identified as the newly developing ‘networked fourth estate.’”

Jensen set out to frame a new definition of censorship. He put out an annual list of the ten biggest stories that the mainstream media had ignored, arguing that it was a failure of the corporate press to pursue and promote these stories that represented censorship – not by the government, but by the media itself.

“My definition starts with the other end, with the failure of information to reach people,” he wrote. “For the purposes of this project, censorship is defined as the suppression of information, whether purposeful or not, by any method – including bias, omission, underreporting, or self-censorship, which prevents the public from fully knowing what is happening in the world.”

Jensen died in April, 2015, but his project lives on. The people who inherited the mantle, Peter Phillips, a sociology professor at Sonoma State, and Huff, who teaches social science and history at Diablo Valley College, have veered at times into the world of conspiracies and 9/11 “truther” folks. A handful of past stories were, to be kind, difficult to verify. That’s caused a lot of folks in the alternative press to question the validity of the annual list.

But Huff, who is now project director, and Roth, associate director, have expanded and tightened up the process of selecting stories; project staffers and volunteers first fact-check nomination that come in to make sure they are “valid” news reports. Then a panel of 28 judges, mostly academics with a few journalists and media critics, finalize the top ten and the 15 runners-up.

The results are published in a book that will be released Oct. 16 by Seven Stories Press.

I’ve been writing about Project Censored for 25 years, and I think it’s safe to say that the stories on this year’s list are credible, valid – and critically important. And even in an era when most of us are drunk with information, overloaded by buzzing social media telling us things we didn’t think we needed to know, these stories haven’t gotten anywhere near the attention they deserve.

  1. Half of global wealth owned by the 1 percent

We hear plenty of talk about the wealth and power of the top 1 percent of people in the United States, but the global wealth gap is, if anything, even worse. And it has profound human consequences.

Oxfam international, which has been working for decades to fight global poverty, released a report in January, 2015 showing that, if current trends continue, by the end of this year the wealthiest 1 percent will own more than everyone else in the world put together.

According to Project Censored, “The Oxfam report provided evidence that extreme inequality is not inevitable, but is, in fact, the result of political choices and economic policies established and maintained by the power elite, wealthy individuals whose strong influence keeps the status quo rigged in their own favor.”

Another stunning fact: The 85 richest people in the world now have the same wealth as half the world’s poor.

“The mainstream news media coverage of the report and the associated issues was spotty at best, Project Censored notes: A few corporate television networks, including CNN, CBS, MSNBC, ABC, FOX, and C-SPAN covered Oxfam’s January report, according to the TV News Archive. CNN had the most coverage with approximately seven broadcast segments from January 19 to 25, 2015. However, these stories aired between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m., far from primetime.”

Sources: Larry Elliott and Ed Pilkington, “New Oxfam Report Says Half of Global Wealth Held by the 1%,” Guardian, January 19, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jan/19/global-wealth-oxfam-inequality-davos-economic-summit-switzerland.

Sarah Dransfield, “Number of Billionaires Doubled Since Financial Crisis as Inequality Spirals Out of Control–Oxfam,” Oxfam, October 29, 2014, http://www.oxfam.org.uk/blogs/2014/10/number-of-billionaires-doubled-since-financial-crisis-as-inequality-spirals-out-of-control.

Samantha Cowan, “Every Kid on Earth Could Go to School If the World’s 1,646 Richest People Gave 1.5 Percent,” TakePart, November 3, 2014, http://www.takepart.com/article/2014/11/03/worlds-wealthiest.

 

  1. Oil Industry Illegally Dumps Fracking Wastewater

Fracking, which involves pumping high-pressure water and chemicals into rock formations to free up oil and natural gas, has been a huge issue nationwide. But there’s been little discussion of one of the side effects: The contamination of aquifers.

The Center for Biological Diversity reported in 2014 that oil companies had dumped almost 3 billion gallons of fracking wastewater into California’s underground water supply. Since the companies refuse to say what chemicals they use in the process, nobody knows exactly what the level of contamination is. But wells that supply drinking water near where the fracking waste was dumped tested high in arsenic, thallium, and nitrates.

According to Project Censored, “Although corporate media have covered debate over fracking regulations, the Center for Biological Diversity study regarding the dumping of wastewater into California’s aquifers went all but ignored at first. There appears to have been a lag of more than three months between the initial independent news coverage of the Center for Biological Diversity revelations and corporate coverage. In May 2015, the Los Angeles Times ran a front-page feature on Central Valley crops irrigated with treated oil field water; however, the Los Angeles Times report made no mention of the Center for Biological Diversity’s findings regarding fracking wastewater contamination.”

 

Sources: Dan Bacher, “Massive Dumping of Wastewater into Aquifers Shows Big Oil’s Power in California,” IndyBay, October 11, 2014, http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/10/11/18762739.php.

“California Aquifers Contaminated with Billions of Gallons of Fracking Wastewater,” Russia Today, October 11, 2014, http://rt.com/usa/194620-california-aquifers-fracking-contamination/.

Donny Shaw, “CA Senators Voting NO on Fracking Moratorium Received 14x More from Oil & Gas Industry,” MapLight, June 3, 2014, http://maplight.org/content/ca-senators-voting-no-on-fracking-moratorium-received-14x-more-from-oil-and-gas-industry.

Dan Bacher, “Senators Opposing Fracking Moratorium Received 14x More Money from Big Oil,” IndyBay, June 7, 2014, http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/06/07/18757051.php.

 

  1. 89 percent of Pakistani drone victims not identifiable as militants  

The United States sends drone aircraft into combat on a regular basis, particularly in Pakistan. The Obama Administration says the drones fire missiles only when there is clear evidence that the targets are Al Qaeda bases; Secretary of State John Kerry insists that “the only people we fire a drone at are confirmed terrorist targets at the highest levels.”

But the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which keeps track of all the strikes, reported that only 4 percent of those killed by drones were Al Qaeda members and only 11 percent were confirmed militants of any sort.

That means 89 percent of the 2,464 people killed by US drones could not be identified as terrorists.

In fact, 30 percent of the dead could not be identified at all.

The New York Times has covered the fact that, as one story noted, “most individuals killed are not on a kill list, and the government does not know their names.” But overall, the mainstream news media ignored the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reporting.

Sources: Jack Serle, “Almost 2,500 Now Killed by Covert US Drone Strikes Since Obama Inauguration Six Years Ago,” Bureau of Investigative Journalism, February 2, 2015, http://www.thebureauinvestigates
.com/2015/02/02/almost-2500-killed-covert-us-drone-strikes-obama-inauguration/
.

Jack Serle, “Get the Data: A List of US Air and Drone Strikes, Afghanistan 2015,” Bureau of Investigative Journalism, February 12, 2015, http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2015/02/12/us-drone-war-afghanistan-list-american-air-strikes-2015/#AFG009.

Steve Coll, “The Unblinking Stare: The Drone War in Pakistan,” New Yorker, November 24, 2014, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/11/24/unblinking-stare.

Abigail Fielding-Smith, “John Kerry Says All those Fired at by Drones in Pakistan are ‘Confirmed Terrorist Targets’—But with 1,675 Unnamed Dead How Do We Know?” Bureau of Investigative Journalism, October 23, 2014, http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2014/10/23/john-kerry-says-all-those-fired-at-by-drones-in-pakistan-are-confirmed-terrorist-targets-but-with-1675-unnamed-dead-how-do-we-know/.

Jack Serle, “Only 4% of Drone Victims in Pakistan Named as al Qaeda Members,” Bureau of Investigative Journalism, October 16, 2014, http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/namingthedead/only-4-of-drone-victims-in-pakistan-named-as-al-qaeda-members/?lang=en.

Jeremy Scahill, “Germany is the Tell-Tale Heart of America’s Drone War,” Intercept, April 17, 2015, https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/04/17/ramstein/.

 

  1. Popular resistance to corporate water grabbing

For decades, private companies have been trying to take over and control water supplies, particularly in the developing world. Now, as journalist Ellen Brown reported in March, 2015, corporate water barons, including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, the Carlyle Group, and other investment firms “are purchasing water rights from around the world at an unprecedented pace.”

However, over the past 15 years, more than 180 communities have fought back and re-municipalized their water systems. “From Spain to Buenos Aires, Cochabamba to Kazakhstan, Berlin to Malaysia, water privatization is being aggressively rejected,” Victoria Collier reported in Counterpunch.

Meanwhile, in the United States, some cities – in what may be a move toward privatization – are radically raising water rates and cutting off service to low-income communities.

The mainstream media response to the privatization of water has been largely silence.

Sources: Ellen Brown, “California Water Wars: Another Form of Asset Stripping?,” Nation of Change, March 25, 2015, www.nationofchange.org/2015/03/25/california-water-wars-another-form-of-asset-stripping.

Victoria Collier, “Citizens Mobilize Against Corporate Water Grabs,” CounterPunch, February 11, 2015, www.counterpunch.org/2015/02/11/citizens-mobilize-against-corporate-water-grabs.

Larry Gabriel, “When the City Turned Off Their Water, Detroit Residents and Groups Delivered Help,” YES! Magazine, November 24, 2014, http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/cities-are-now/when-detroit-s-citizens-fought-for-their-right-to-water.

Madeline Ostrander, “LA Imports Nearly 85 Percent of Its Water—Can It Change That by Gathering Rain?,” YES! Magazine, January 5, 2015, http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/cities-are-now/los-angeles-imports-nearly-85-percent-of-its-water.

 

  1. Fukashima nuclear disaster deepens

More than four years after a tsunami caused one of the worst nuclear accidents in human history, the releases of harmful radiation have not.

But the story has largely disappeared from the news.

As Project Censored notes, “The continued dumping of extremely radioactive cooling water into the Pacific Ocean from the destroyed nuclear plant, already being detected along the Japanese coastline, has the potential to impact entire portions of the Pacific Ocean and North America’s western shoreline. Aside from the potential release of plutonium into the Pacific Ocean, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) recently admitted that the facility is releasing large quantities of water contaminated with tritium, cesium, and strontium into the ocean every day.”

We’re talking large amounts of highly contaminated water getting dumped into the ocean. The plants own “admitted that the facility is releasing a whopping 150 billion becquerels of tritium and seven billion becquerels of cesium- and strontium-contaminated water into the ocean every day.” The potential for long-term problems all over the world is huge – and the situation hasn’t been contained.

 

“TEPCO Drops Bombshell About Sea Releases; 8 Billion Bq Per Day,” Simply Info: The Fukushima Project, August 26, 2014, http://www.fukuleaks.org/web/?p=13700.

Sarah Lazare, “Fukushima Meltdown Worse Than Previous Estimates: TEPCO,” Common Dreams, August 7, 2014, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/08/07/fukushima-meltdown-worse-previous-estimates-tepco.

Michel Chossudovsky, “The Fukushima Endgame: The Radioactive Contamination of the Pacific Ocean,” Global Research, December 17, 2014, http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-fukushima-endgame/5420188.

 

  1. Methane and arctic warmings global impacts

We all know that carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are a huge threat to the stability of the climate. But there’s another giant threat out there that hasn’t made much news.

The arctic ice sheets, which are rapidly melting in some areas, contain massive amounts of methane – a greenhouse gas that’s way worse than carbon dioxide. And as the ice recedes, that methane is getting released into the atmosphere.

Dahr Jamail, writing in Truthout, notes that all of our predictions about the pace of global warming and its impacts might have to be re-evaluated in the wake of revelations about methane releases:

“A 2013 study, published in Nature, reported that a fifty-gigaton ‘burp’ of methane is ‘highly possible at any time.’ As Jamail clarified, ‘That would be the equivalent of at least 1,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide,’ noting that, since 1850, humans have released a total of approximately 1,475 gigatons in carbon dioxide. A massive, sudden change in methane levels could, in turn, lead to temperature increases of four to six degrees Celsius in just one or two decades—a rapid rate of climate change to which human agriculture, and ecosystems more generally, could not readily adapt.”

Jamail quoted Paul Beckwith, a professor of climatology and meteorology at the University of Ottawa: “Our climate system is in early stages of abrupt climate change that, unchecked, will lead to a temperature rise of 5 to 6 degrees Celsius within a decade or two.” Such changes would have “unprecedented effects” for life on Earth.

A huge story? Apparently not: The major news media have written at length about the geo-politics of the arctic region, but there’s been very little mention of the methane monster.

Source: Dahr Jamail, “The Methane Monster Roars,” Truthout, January 13, 2015, http://truth-out.org/news/item/28490-the-methane-monster-roars.

 

  1. Fear of government spying is chilling writers’ freedom of expression

Writers in Western liberal democracies may not face the type of censorship seen in some parts of the world – but their fear of government surveillance is still causing many to think twice about what they can say.

Lauren McCauley, writing in Common Dreams, quoted one of the conclusions from a report by the writers’ group PEN America: “If writers avoid exploring topics for fear of possible retribution, the material available to readers—particularly those seeking to understand the most controversial and challenging issues facing the world today—may be greatly impoverished.”

 

According to Project Censored, a PEN America survey showed that “34 percent of writers in liberal democracies reported some degree of self-censorship (compared with 61 percent of writers living in authoritarian countries, and 44 percent in semi-democratic countries). Nearly 60 percent of the writers from Western Europe, the US … indicated that US credibility ‘has been significantly damaged for the long term’ by revelations of the US government surveillance programs.

Other the Common Dreams, the PEN report, attracted almost no major media attention.

 

Sources: Lauren McCauley, “Fear of Government Spying ‘Chilling’ Writers’ Speech Worldwide,” Common Dreams, January 5, 2015, http://commondreams.org/news/2015/01/05/fear-government-spying-chilling-writers-speech-worldwide.

Lauren McCauley, “Government Surveillance Threatens Journalism, Law and Thus Democracy: Report,” Common Dreams, July 28, 2014, http://commondreams.org/news/2014/07/28/government-surveillance-threatens-journalism-law-and-thus-democracy-report.

 

  1. Who dies at the hands of police – and how often

High-profile police killings, particularly of African American men, have made big news over the past few years. But there’s been much less attention to the overall numbers – and to the difference between how many people are shot by cops in the US and in other countries.

In the January, 2015 edition of Liberation, Richard Becker, relying on public records, concluded that the rate of US police killing was 100 times that of England, 40 times that of Germany, and 20 times the rate in Canada.

In June, 2015, a team of reporters from the Guardian concluded that 102 unarmed people were killed by US police in the first five months of 2015 – and that’s twice the rate reported by the government.

Furthermore, the Guardian wrote, “black Americans are more than twice as likely to be unarmed when killed during encounters with police as white people.” The paper concluded that “32 percent of black people killed by police in 2015 were unarmed, as were 25 percent of Hispanic and Latino people, compared with 15 percent of white people killed.”

And as far as accountability goes, the Washington Post noted that in 385 cases of police killings, only three officers faced charges.

Sources: Richard Becker, “U.S. Cops Kill at 100 Times Rate of Other Capitalist Countries,” Liberation, January 4, 2015, http://www.liberationnews.org/u-s-cops-kill-100-times-rate-capitalist-countries/.

Jon Swaine, Oliver Laughland, and Jamiles Lartey, “Black Americans Killed by Police Twice as Likely to be Unarmed as White People,” Guardian, June 1, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/01/black-americans-killed-by-police-analysis.

 

  1. Millions in poverty get less media coverage than billionaires do

The news media in the United States don’t like to talk about poverty – but they love to report on the lives and glory of the super-rich.

The advocacy group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting analyzed the three major TV news networks, and found that the 482 billionaires got more attention than the 50 million people who live in poverty.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who follows the MSM – or pays much attention to the world of social media and the blogosphere. The top rung of society gets vast amounts of attention, for good and for ill – but the huge numbers of people who are homeless, hungry, and often lacking in hope just aren’t news.

“The notion that the wealthiest nation on Earth has one in every six of its citizens living at or below the poverty threshold reflects not a lack of resources, but a lack of policy focus and attention—and this is due to a lack of public awareness to the issue,” Frederick Reese of MintPress News wrote.

From Project Censored: “The FAIR study showed that between January 2013 and February 2014, an average of only 2.7 seconds per every 22-minute episode discussed poverty in some format. During the 14-month study, FAIR found just 23 three news segments that addressed poverty.”

 

Sources: Steve Rendall, Emily Kaufmann, and Sara Qureshi, “Even GOP Attention Can’t Make Media Care about Poor,” Extra!, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, June 1, 2014, http://fair.org/extra-online-articles/even-gop-attention-cant-make-media-care-about-poor/.

“Millions in Poverty Get Less Coverage Than 482 Billionaires,” Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, June 26, 2014, http://fair.org/press-release/millions-in-poverty-get-less-coverage-than-482-billionaires/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=millions-in-poverty-get-less-coverage-than-482-billionaires.

Frederick Reese, “Billionaires Get More Media Attention Than The Poor,” MintPress News, June 30, 2014, http://www.mintpressnews.com/billionaires-get-media-attention-poor/193174/.

Tavis Smiley, “Poverty Less Than .02 Percent of Lead Media Coverage,” Huffington Post, March 7, 2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tavis-smiley/-poverty-less-than-02-of_b_4921119.html.

  1. Costa Rica is setting the standard on renewable energy

Is it possible to meet a modern nation’s energy needs without any fossil-fuel consumption? Yes – and Costa Rica has been doing it.

To be fair, that country’s main industries – tourism and agriculture – are not energy-intensive, and heavy rainfall in the first part of the year made it possible for the country to rely heavily on its hydropower resources.

But even in normal years, Costa Rica generates 90 percent of its energy without burning any fossil fuels.

Iceland also produces the vast majority of its energy from renewable sources.

The transition to 100 percent renewables will be harder for larger countries – but as the limited reporting on Costa Rica notes, it’s possible to take large steps in that direction.

Sources: Myles Gough, “Costa Rica Powered with 100% Renewable Energy for 75 Straight Days,” Science Alert, March 20, 2015, http://www.sciencealert.com/costa-rica-powered-with-100-renewable-energy-for-75-days.

Adam Epstein, “Costa Rica is Now Running Completely on Renewable Energy,” Quartz, March 23, 2015, http://qz.com/367985/costa-rica-is-now-running-completely-on-renewable-energy/.

 

The runners-up:

  1. Pesticide Manufacturers Spend Millions on PR Response to Declining Bee Populations
  2. Seeds of Doubt: USDA Ignores Popular Critiques of New Pesticide-Resistant Genetically Modified Crops
  3. Pentagon and NATO Encircle Russia and China
  4. Global Forced Displacement Tops 50 Million
  5. Big Sugar Borrowing Tactics from Big Tobacco
  6. US Military Sexual Assault of Colombian Children
  7. Media “Whitewash” Senate’s CIA Torture Report
  8. ICREACH: The NSA’s Secret Search Engine
  9. “Most Comprehensive” Assessment Yet Warns against Geoengineering Risks
  10. FBI Seeks Backdoors in New Communications Technology
  11. The New Amazon of the North: Canadian Deforestation
  12. Global Killing of Environmentalists Rises Drastically
  13. Unprocessed Rape Kits
  14. NSA’s AURORAGOLD Program Hacks Cell Phones around World
  15. Greenland’s Meltwater Contributes to Rising Sea Levels

 

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Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.

22 COMMENTS

  1. Re. the side topic of the 9/11 “truther” comment my curiosity was raised. I’ve long dismissed that stuff out of hand re. the simple argument that it would be impossible to keep such a massive project secret. But I keep getting queries from people who are at least on the border of credibility that I should look into that stuff. Even as a physicist (though with not a shred of structural engineering knowledge) I haven’t the slightest idea re. how to try to assess the massive number of claims the “truthers” make and I was curious as to whether anyone has any references I could point to re. at least making the reasonable claim that looking at this stuff isn’t worth anybody’s time.

  2. Hmm. It’s kinda just a generic list of “Knew that, not a secret, who isn’t talking about that?” stuff. I thought 48hills was more for local politics and drag party info. Reminds me I’m a new kid to reading this site.

    I’d love to read a local version of it full of real bombshells and whistleblowing.

    • Here’s one: Landlords (SF Apartment Association) and tenants (SF Tenants Union) have both endorsed Peskin.

      The Christensen campaign is correct about her being able to unite people with different opinions for a cause: These two groups are usually adversaries but they are united against Christensen.

      • erm. yeah….no. we’re not starved for another avenue to express campaign allegiances, in my opinion, plus it’s Prop F they’re really aligned on. We also have big money donor TV ads pairing Peskin up with Lee.

      • Peskin is an a$$hole, and he’ll be an a$$hole whether he wins or he loses, and despite who endorses him.
        I would like to understand who in Peskins camp is responsible for the Peskin and Ed Lee advertising though. I guess theres nothing illegal in lying on TV.

      • And of course peskin has said he has “no idea” how they happened or who funded them. I’m sure. I’m a bit surprised he feels so in danger of not winning.

    • I enoyed the article, but what you suggest has merit. A list of stories the Chronicle does not cover would make a good one. Here’s my first nomination:

      Long before the Chancellor’s Study Committee report saying the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges should be fired there was considerable evidence of malfeasance by the ACCJC. It had local and statewide significance. Why was this never investigated?

  3. “For the purposes of this project, censorship is defined as the suppression of information, whether purposeful or not, by any method – including bias, omission, underreporting, or self-censorship, which prevents the public from fully knowing what is happening in the world.”

    This is a good place to start. It’s important for people to understand that we journalists aren’t sitting around saying “hum, how can I suppress this news? Let’s not report that because our bosses ordered it.” Exceptions of course for propaganda organizations like FOX and Russian TV.

    Understanding how a newsroom works may help. Bigger, more dramatic stories will push some important stories out of the way on any given day. Another misunderstanding is that many of the stories on the list are ongoing process stories.

    For example: Issues about income inequality. I don’t have a spot in our programs that says “insert income inequality story here.” The story, as do most stories, must have a peg.. a “why today, why now angle.” If a major report comes out it is news on the day of the report. However, the way spot news media operates it is difficult to circle back around on important issues in the daily grind. News is by definition New.

    Now if you wish to ask why aren’t more of these big issues being covered as important, in-depth features then that is a very legitimate complaint. Mostly stories that are big important process stories aren’t being covered because so little journalism is being done at that scale anymore. Very few people do long features anymore in any format. There is simply no one funding it. You can blame the digital era in part, because the fracturing of the media means there are very few large organizations that can do this kind of important work. The internet broke the hold of a few gate keepers, but also wrecked the business model that allowed those gatekeepers to fund long-form important investigations.

    I suggest that we need to have some kind of micropayment system for all online journalism. You pay a penny or fraction of a penny per article. That would provide enough funds for investigative reporters to spend time doing in-depth pieces. Those articles would then be picked-up by the spot news reporting services and you would have more of these issues being reported across the board.

      • KPFA already uses a listener-sponsored model, and rather successfully. I donate to it myself.

        But those systems really can’t compete with corporate media backed by big money. At some point you have to have a government that steps in to break up the corporate dominance structure.

    • I don’t think Russian TV works any differently than American TV, or that corporate media in general work very differently than FOX. All US corporate media are owned by… well, corporations, or wealthy individuals. And every journalist knows that if they put forth stories counter to what the bosses want, those stories will be suppressed and the journalist won’t last very long there.

  4. “Credible, valid, and important,” perhaps. But the list is heavy with the biases of what the authors are interested in, environmental issues seem to crowd out a lot of other things. And given their emphasis on a (relatively) less controversial topic, the organization seems to be less cutting edge and more mainstream now. Other stories mentioned have actually been covered extensively, such as the epidemic of police murder. Perhaps not well, but it’s been covered.

    Much less talked about is the mass incarceration of this country, the nation that jails a larger percentage of its citizen than any other on earth. And as horrific and shocking as the murders are, its the incarceration and subsequent denial of rights that affects people on a more massive scale.

    If one were to compile a list of stories both important and not well-covered in the corporate media, other stories I would add to the list would include:
    -The disaster of economic austerity policies, and devastation that these policies have brought upon people who are subjected to them.
    -How US policy has directly led to both the rise of ISIS and the refugee crisis.
    -American involvement in the overthrow of democracy in Ukraine
    -The use of what Julian Assange refers to as “lawfare” -how western governments use the law as a weapon of war against political opponents, from Wikileaks, to Snowden, to FIFA, to sanctions against Russia
    -The US-supported Saudi regime’s horrific human rights record at home and export of terror abroad.
    -The growing bans on GMOs
    -How US vulture capitalists purposefully trap developing countries into a spiral of poverty and debt

    I’m glad they at least pay lip service to NATO expansion, if only as a “runner up” story. We’re talking about a policy that is putting us at risk for WWIII, and there’s no critique of it at all in the corporate media. Compared to that, it’s a little bit of a head-scratcher to see what they did include.

    I mean, it’s great that Costa Rica is using lots of renewables. Hooray for them. But it’s probably not going to matter too much if Hillary or one of the Republican hawks lead us into a nuclear exchange with Russia.

    • While I agree that the list reflects the bias of it’s creators, doesn’t your list, too, reflect your bias?

      I don’t see bias in this situation as being a valid complaint. I would suggest that your list fills some of the gaps and makes the ‘master list’ more complete.

      • True. My list wasn’t meant as a replacement so much as an addition; that said, I do think some of mine were more important than some of theirs. I guess that’s just my bias, but seriously, do we need the umpteenth environmental story? Maybe it’s because I listen to KPFA a lot, but I’m getting tired of hearing Bill McKibben every other day.

    • “I’m glad they at least pay lip service to NATO expansion, if only as a “runner up” story. There’s no critique of it at all in the corporate media, and we’re *only* talking about a policy that puts us at risk for WWIII.”

      WWIII is very unlikely in the current geopolitical climate. Increasing interdependence between national economies, globalization, and thermonuclear weapons make open conventional warfare between industrialized nations extremely unattractive to potential belligerents. More likely we will see increasing cold war like conditions between the US and BRICS nations, i.e. cyberwarefare, proxies, etc.

      NATO hasn’t done much beyond limited air campaigns, all of which were carried out with near 90% US assets.

      NATO – No Action, Talking Only

      • To dismiss the US/NATO role as “limited air campaigns” is gloss over the way modern empires operate. For the most part, modern empires don’t send in the military to take territory and establish official colonies, although what we did in Iraq and Afghanistan comes pretty close.

        But for the most part, we use covert programs to foment dissent and send aid and training to undemocratic elements to overthrow governments. The Obama administration alone has used these tactics successfully in Honduras, Paraguay, Ukraine, and unsuccessfully in Cuba, Venezuela, and Russia. Among other places.

        When shooting wars break out, air power is used in support, as in Libya and Syria, and Yugoslavia before that. Such tactics may not create the establishment of a “friendly” government. But it’s quite effective at destroying a government in place and killing thousands of people in the process.

        I do agree that WWIII is unlikely. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a risk. By expanding to areas that directly threaten Russia, the US/NATO makes war more likely. All it takes is one mistake and things sometimes spiral out of control. It’s certainly a risk. If we had a truly independent media, it would be the media’s role to question the wisdom of such policies.

      • The vital point, as far as I’m concerned, is: if the world continues on the natural trajectory it has been over the past several decades, we could very easily never see nuclear holocaust or total global war. But we almost certainly will see serious environmental devastation.

        Although, actually, that environmental devastation probably increases the risk of total global war all on its own.

      • Both are important, but I think apples and oranges are being compared. If you want to compare apples to apples, then total global nuclear war would be equivalent to an environmental extinction event akin to that which killed the dinosaurs. The former, I think, is more likely than the latter.

        “Serious environmental devastation” is akin to serious war. Well we’re seeing serious war right now. The Syrian Civil War has already claimed 250,000- 300,000 lives. Iraq cost a million lives. We haven’t seen environmental devastation on quite that scale yet.

        But this is sort of like arguing about whether you’d rather have AIDS or lung cancer. Ideally neither!

      • NATO’s policies post relationship-meltdown, if anything, have given Russia a lot of leeway. We have tread pretty damn lightly, relative to cold war containment policies.

        “But for the most part, we use covert programs to foment dissent and send aid and training to undemocratic elements to overthrow governments. The Obama administration alone has used these tactics successfully in Honduras, Paraguay, Ukraine, and unsuccessfully in Cuba, Venezuela, and Russia. Among other places.”

        That’s exactly what I said. None of of these strategies, or even their much larger-scale Cold War predecessors, has led to a shooting war with China or Russia. For the moment, the US military is still unquestionably the most powerful military on the planet, and it will remain so for at least 20 years. At some point, a combination of our near-peer adversaries may challenge us economically and politically, but even a relatively weaker US is not soft target for conventional war.

        I personally have been following developments in the Middle Wast and Eastern Europe very closely since the beginning of the Arab Spring, but I definitely agree there hasn’t been enough coverage.

    • “But the list is heavy with the biases of what the authors are interested
      in, environmental issues seemingly crowding out a lot of other things.”

      As a carbon-based life form, I’ll readily admit I have a certain bias towards being able to eat, drink and breathe.

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