Uncovering the most underreported news stories of 2012
Published: November 21, 2012
Roth points to a quote from journalist Walter Lippmann (included in this year's edition of the Project Censored book) regarding the importance of substantial journalism in an industry often dominated by fluff and nonsense: "All that the sharpest critics of democracy have alleged is true if there is no steady supply of trustworthy and relevant news. ... No one can manage anything on pap. Neither can a people."
But it's not always bad news that gets eclipsed. Sometimes it is positive stories that get shunted to the margins, such as this year's story No. 7, about the growing popularity of worker-owned cooperative businesses springing up around the world.
If Project Censored proves anything, it's that no matter how well-informed you may think you are, there's always something new to be learned.
What follows are the Top 10 of this year's Top 25 most censored stories. Much of the info is taken from Project Censored itself. In addition, supplemental coverage has been provided by the San Francisco Bay Guardian and California's North Coast Journal.
1. Signs of a growing police state
Since the passage of the 2001 PATRIOT Act, the United States has become increasingly monitored and militarized at the expense of civil liberties. The 2012 passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has allowed the military to detain indefinitely without trial any U.S. citizen that the government labels a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism, while President Barack Obama has signed an executive order authorizing widespread federal and military control of the national economy and resources during "emergency and non-emergency conditions."
Journalist Chris Hedges, along with co-plaintiffs including Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg, won a case challenging the NDAA's indefinite detention clause on Sept. 1, when a federal judge blocked its enforcement. But her ruling was overturned on Oct. 3, so the clause is back.
Sources: Spencer Ackerman and Noah Shachtman, "Read the FBI Memo: Agents Can 'Suspend the Law,'" Wired, March 28, 2012; James Bamford, "The NSA Is Building the Country's Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)," Wired, March 15, 2012; Chris Hedges, "Why I'm Suing Barack Obama," Truthdig, Jan. 16, 2012.
2. Oceans in peril
We thought the sea was infinite and inexhaustible. It is not. The overall rise in ocean temperature has led to the largest movement of marine species in 2 to 3 million years, according to scientists from the Climate Change and European Marine Ecosystems Research project.
In a haunting article highlighted by Project Censored, reporter Julia Whitty paints a tenuous seascape – overfished, acidified, warming – and describes how the destruction of the ocean's complex ecosystems jeopardizes the entire planet, not just the 70 percent that is water. Whitty compares ocean acidification, caused by global warming, to acidification that was one of the causes of the "Great Dying," a mass extinction that happened 252 million years ago. Life on earth took 30 million years to recover.
A February 2012 study of 14 protected and 18 unprotected ecosystems in the Mediterranean Sea demonstrated that this previously healthy sea is now quickly being depleted of resources. On a more hopeful note, the international team of scientists conducting the three-year study found that, in well-enforced marine reserve areas, the fish populations were five to 10 times greater than the fish populations in unprotected areas. The work of these scientists encourages the establishment and maintenance of marine reserves.
Sources: Julia Whitty, "The End of a Myth," OnEarth, Feb. 27, 2012; Richard Gray, "Warming Oceans Cause Largest Movement of Marine Species in Two Million Years," Telegraph (UK), June 26, 2011; David A. Gabel, "Overfishing the Mediterranean," Environmental News Network, March 8, 2012.