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Project Censored 2013

Ten stories the media failed to cover – or covered all wrong – in 2013

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Even worse than kowtowing to advertisers is the false objectivity the media tries to achieve, McChesney told us, neutering its news to stay "neutral" on a topic. This handcuffs journalists into not drawing conclusions, even when they are well-supported by the facts.

In order to report a story, they rely on the words of others to make claims, limiting what they can report.

"You allow people in power to set the range of legitimate debate, and you report on it," McChesney says.

Project Censored stories reflect that dynamic – many of them require journalists to take a stand or present an illuminating perspective on a set of dry facts. For example, reporting on the increasing gulf between the rich and the poor is easy, but talking about why the rich are getting richer is where journalists begin to worry about their objectivity, Gladstone said.

"I think that there is a desire to stay away from stories that will inspire rhetoric of class warfare," she says.

Unable to tell the story of a trend and unable to talk about rising inequality for fear of appearing partisan, reporters often fail to connect the dots for their readers.

McChesney says journalism should be a proactive watchdog by independently stating that something needs to be done. He said there's more watchdog journalism calling out inequity in democracies where there is a more robust and well-funded media.

And they often have one thing we in U.S. don't – government subsidies for journalism.

"All the other democracies in the world, there are huge subsidies for public media and journalism," McChesney said. "They not only rank ahead of us in terms of being democratic, they also rank ahead of us in terms of having a free press. Our press is shrinking."

No matter what the ultimate economic solution is, the crisis of reporting is largely a crisis of money. McChesney calls it a "whole knife in the heart of journalism."

For American journalism to revive itself, it has to move beyond its corporate ties. It has to become a truly free press. It's time to end the myth that corporate journalism is the only way for media to be objective, monolithic and correct.

The failures of that prescription are clear in Project Censored's top 10 stories of the year.


1. Manning and the failure of corporate media

Untold stories of Iraqi civilian deaths by American soldiers, U.S. diplomats pushing aircraft sales on foreign royalty, uninvestigated abuse by Iraqi allies, the perils of the rise in private war contractors – this is what Manning exposed. They were stories that challenge the U.S. political elite, and they were only made possible by a sacrifice. Manning got a 35-year prison sentence for the revelation of state secrets to WikiLeaks, a story told countless times in corporate media. But as Project Censored posits, the failure of our media was not in the lack of coverage of Manning, but in its focus.

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