The most significant story of 1992, according to Project Censored’s panel of judges, was the story of the ’80s: how major news media failed to report on the economic cost of Reaganomics while directly benefitting from conservative economic policies. “As they were dispensing their relentlessly positive news about Reaganism, they were being allowed by the government to create giant, monopolistic media empires,” Ben Bagdikian wrote in Mother Jones (5-6/92), in an exceptional article cited by the media watch project. “For almost 10 years, the media remained silent on the obvious–that Reaganite policies were taking a frightful toll in human suffering and crippling the economy.”
As Bagdikian noted, “The mechanism by which owners control the news succeeds because it is invisible to the public….More than ever before, major news corporations are conducting systematic screenings of news reporters to keep out journalists who might not readily comply with corporate wishes or who might join newsroom unions. Some major news companies…do the screening through mandatory, lengthy psychological questionnaires of all potential new reporters….Hiring reporters who are not inclined to question authority is one way to guarantee bad journalism.”
Other top “censored stories” included the rising cost of corporate crime (Multinational Monitor, 12/91), advertisers’ growing influence on media (Center for the Study of Commercialism), and the hype over the drug war (In These Times, 5/20/92; Extra! 9/92). Extra! also published another article commended by Project Censored: “Norplant: Birth Control or Control of Poor Women?” by Ethel Long-Scott and Judy Southworth (7-8/92).
As in years past, the list of underreported stories could have included Project Censored itself. Although mentioned in alternative newsweeklies and other independent media, Project Censored is typically ignored by the mainstream press, exemplifying the self-censorship that the list is designed to point out.