Dr. Carl Jensen founded Project Censored

Dr. Carl Jensen developed the Project to research and publicize news media censorship in the US and to develop students’ critical thinking skills and media literacy. The Project produced its first list of important but under-reported news stories in 1976. Jensen and Project Censored circulated the earliest annual reports in mimeographed form. From early on, Bruce Brugmann helped to increase the Project’s impact by publishing Project Censored’s annual report of the “news that didn’t make the news” in the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

1976

Sonoma State University

"Junk Food News" Coined

Carl Jensen coins the term “Junk Food News” to describe reporting that entertains rather than informs the public. “The problem,” he noted, “is not the quantity of news but the quality.” Junk Food News highlights sensational yet inconsequential topics, diverting the public’s attention from other, more important stories. This term is now widely used, though its origin with Carl Jensen and Project Censored is often forgotten. Analysis of Junk Food News is a regular feature of the Project’s yearbook series.

1983

First Censored Yearbook is published

The Shelburne Press (Chapel Hill, NC) published the first Censored yearbook, Censored: The News That Didn’t Make the News—And Why, edited by Carl Jensen, in 1993. In addition to the Top 25 Censored Stories of 1992, the initial volume included chapters on Junk Food News (a term that Jensen coined), an update on the status of previously censored news stories (Deja Vu News), and a chronology of censorship dating back to 605 BC. The 1994 and 1995 Censored yearbooks, also edited by Jensen, were published by Four Walls Eight Windows (New York). Jensen recruited an illustrious panel of media experts—including Noam Chomsky, Susan Faludi, George Gerbner, Edward Herman, Sut Jhally, Nicholas Johnson, Judith Krug, Michael Parenti, and Herbert Schiller—to serve as judges of the Project’s annual story lists.

1993

Dr. Peter Phillips becomes director

Dr. Peter Phillips, a sociologist at Sonoma State University, becomes the Project’s second director. From 1997-2011, Phillips edited or co-edited fourteen volumes of the Censored yearbook and taught critical media literacy to thousands of students. 1996 also marks the first year that the Censored yearbook is published by Seven Stories Press. Decades later, Dan Simon and the team at Seven Stories continue to be treasured partners and stalwart allies.

1996

Is the Press Really Free?

The first feature-length documentary about Project Censored, Is the Press Really Free?, by Steve Keller, aired on PBS stations around the US

1998

Media Freedom Foundation is founded

In 2000, Phillips and Jensen established the Media Freedom Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in order to provide oversight for the Project and to ensure its independence.

2000

News Abuse Introduced

Peter Phillips introduces the term "News Abuse” as an analytical category, expanding and refining the critique of Jensen’s "Junk Food News." News Abuse differs from Junk Food News in that “junk” news focuses on inconsequential or trivial topics, while News Abuse stories address serious topics that deserve wider public attention, but are subject to spin, sensationalism, or other distortion. News Abuse functions as a form of propaganda, which works to mislead the public about important societal issues, deflect criticism from powerful people and organizations (including governments and corporations), and ultimately reinforce the status quo and existing inequalities and injustices.

2002

Campus Affiliates Program Launches

The Project launched its Campus Affiliates Program, a network of college and university faculty and students researching important but under-reported news stories, with the dual aims of improving public appreciation of independent investigative journalism and providing hands-on training in critical media literacy for students.

2009-2010

Professor Mickey Huff Becomes Director

Professor Mickey Huff of Diablo Valley College becomes the Project’s third director. Working with associate director Dr. Andy Lee Roth, Huff extended the Project’s educational reach beyond Sonoma State University through the Project’s Campus Affiliates Program. The Campus Affiliate Program now involves hundreds of students and faculty across the country each year.

2010

Launch of The Project Censored Show

Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff launched The Project Censored Show, a weekly public affairs program originating from the historic studios of KPFA in Berkeley, California, part of the Pacifica network. The program is currently hosted primarily by Huff with co-host Eleanor Goldfield and is syndicated on more than 50 radio stations across North America.

2010

National Coalition Against Censorship and Banned Books Week Coalition

Project Censored became part of the National Coalition Against Censorship and began working with the Banned Books Week Coalition.

2013

Project Censored: The Movie: Ending the Reign of Junk Food News

Release of Project Censored the Movie: Ending the Reign of Junk Food News, the second documentary about the Project, directed and produced by former student Doug Hecker with Christopher Oscar. The documentary premiered at the Sonoma International Film Festival, and screened around the world, winning several awards.

2013

Pillar Award for New Media and Journalism

Pillar Award 2014 The Project received the National Whistleblower Center’s Pillar Award for New Media and Journalism.

2014

The Project’s Media Freedom Summit

The Project’s Media Freedom Summit, held at Sonoma State University in October of 2016, convened journalists, media studies scholars and activists from around the world to celebrate the Project’s fortieth anniversary. Workshops and panels addressed the links between media power and political power, promoting media freedom and critical media literacy as means to advance social justice.

2016

Project Censored's 40th Anniversary

Special edition of the Censored yearbook, Censored 2017, in celebration of the Project’s 40th anniversary.

2017

The Project’s Media Freedom Summit 2.0

Building on the success of the first summit, the Project hosted Media Freedom Summit 2.0, focusing on critical media literacy for social justice, at the College of Marin, Kentfield, CA.

2018

United States of Distraction: Fighting the Fake News Invasion

The Project released its third documentary, United States of Distraction: Fighting the Fake News Invasion, filmed by students, directed and written by Nolan Higdon, Mickey Huff, and Andy Lee Roth, and edited and narrated by independent journalist Abby Martin. It debuted virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic in partnership with The Real News Network.

2020

Critical Media Literacy Conference of the Americas

Project Censored co-sponsors the first annual Critical Media Literacy Conference of the Americas (CMLCA), convening an international, multilingual group of journalists, media experts, activists, and educators to promote critical media literacy education in the US and around the world. Project Censored continues to cosponsor the CMLCA, including subsequent editions of the conference in 2021 (convened remotely due to COVID-19) and 2022.

2020

The Long Sili-Con: Power and Censorship in the Digital Era

Project Censored partnered with The Real News Network on a three-part, online series, The Long Sili-Con: Power and Censorship in the Digital Era. It featured acclaimed media scholars and experts who addressed the rising crisis of online censorship, deplatforming, and surveillance capitalism. Three major questions framed each of the segments: What Could Life and Media Be Without Surveillance Capitalism?; Can Democracy Exist in the Digital Era?; and Is Freedom Possible in the Digital Era?

2021

The Censored Press

Launch of The Censored Press, Project Censored’s publishing imprint in partnership with Seven Stories Press, dedicated to producing books that promote independent investigative journalism, media literacy, and critical thinking.

2021

Dispatches on Media and Politic

Launch of Project Censored’s Dispatches on Media and Politics series, cogent articles on the latest media industry news, the state of the free press, and the intersection of media and politics. The Dispatches series is published biweekly and reprinted by numerous independent media outlets.

2022