Each year a group called Project Censored releases a list it calls “The Top 25 Censored Media Stories”. The title is a misnomer, however; the articles weren’t censored at all, but “underreported” – meaning that, in the eyes of the judges, the article didn’t receive sufficient attention. All of the articles on this year’s list were widely reported, many in the mainstream media. The #1 item on the list, for example, was published in the Sunday Times, Harper’s Magazine, Mother Jones and Atlantic Journal Constitution, and reportedly “drew more traffic to [the Mother Jones] web site than any other article.”
As a reminder that actual media censorship is still a significant problem around the world, I’d like to propose an alternative list:
The Top 25 Acts of Media Censorship, 2002-2003
#1 – The Cuban government jails 75 pro-democracy activists, including 30 journalists, for writing articles that appeared in the foreign press. They receive sentences between 14 and 27 years for “undermining the state’s independence.”
#2 – Nigeria’s Zamfara State issues a fatwa calling for the death of fashion writer Isioma Daniel, after she published an article suggesting the Prophet Muhammed would have approved of the Miss World pageant. The local office of the newspaper This Day, which initially published the article, was subsequently destroyed in riots that left more than 200 dead.
#3 – The Tongan government declares the Times of Tonga newspaper, which is published in New Zealand, to be a prohibited import, for campaigning against the government. Officials claim that allowing the newspaper to be imported would be a human rights violation. King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV later bans possession of the newspaper, and finally even prohibits discussion of the ban.
#4 – The Australian High Court rules that Barron’s magazine may be sued in Victoria over an article published in New Jersey. Other Commonwealth nations subsequently consider adopting the decision.
#5 – The Chinese government orders journalists to undergo Communist Party propaganda tests in order to obtain licenses. Unlicensed journalists are not tolerated – for example the 10 photographers beaten by police while attempting to cover an education bureau meeting. → Continue reading: The real “Project Censored”