New York Times: Censoring Project Censored

Pub date October 5, 2009
SectionBruce Blog

“After 34 years, will the New York Times cover the Project Censored annual release?

By Bruce B. Brugmann

Peter Phillips, the director of Project Censored at Sonoma State University, sent me this key question with his annual Censored package:

“After 34 years, will the New York Times cover the Project Censored annual release?”

Phillips was referring to the fact that the Times has never written a word about the project, even though it is now a widely respected package, is carried by the Guardian and many alternative papers, and produces a book of censored stories each year.

Moreover, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, which is owned by the Times, didn’t run a story this year even though the project and Sonoma State are in the PD’s circulation area. When the PD did run a story in previous years, it was a nasty whack job.

The “censoring” of Project Censored by the Times, which declares itself the world’s best newspaper, has always fascinated me. And so I set out two years ago to see if I could get an explanation from the Times and its sister paper. I asked Carl Jensen, the founder of the project, and Phillips if they had ever gotten an explanation from the Times why why the paper “censored” Project Censored. They said they never got an explanation.
So I went to work on my own and emailed the package several times to the editors at the Times and the PD.
No reply from either the Times of the PD. Nothing. They were even “censoring” the messenger who was asking the questions.

I noted in Sunday’s New York Times (10/4/09) that the new public editor, Clark Hoyt, was dealing with a tricky subject for the Times, namely that it was missing some juicy stories. Hoyt mentioned the Acorn story
and said that “the story caught fire on Fox News from conservative blogs, but the Times was slow to respond.”
He wrote that Bill Keller, the executive editor of the Times, and Jill Abramson, the managing editor for news,
said they would assign an editor (B3: unnamed, alas) to “monitor opinion media from now on and to briefs them frequently.”

Clark added that “it seems self-evident to me that the Times needs to be aware of the buzz out there–whether it’s about politics and public policy or fashion. The hard part is is deciding what merits coverage. When the Times misses or is slow on a story that is boiling elsewhere…it lets it’s readers down.”

Well, Project Censored each year for 34 years has produced a list of major stories that the Times and the mainstream media have missed or under-reported. Why doesn’t that merit coverage? Why can’t the Times explain why it “censored” the censored story? To me, the fact that the Times won’t run the story or explain why dramatizes the point of the project in 96 point Tempo Bold.

In any event, I’m going to email the story to the Times and its sister paper near Sonoma State and see if I can get an explanation this time around. I’ll keep you posted. Stay alert. B3

Click here to read Guardian reporter Rebecca Bowe’s story, Project Censored: The top 10 stories not brought to you by mainstream news media in 2008 and 2009.

Click here to learn more about Project Censored.

Click here to read the 2007 blog, Censoring the Censored Project: Will the NY Times, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, and the mainstream media censor this year’s Project Censored story?