Project Censored Newsletter July 2023

by Project Censored
Published: Updated:

2023 Skipping Stones Book Award for The Media and Me

The Media and Me has been recognized by Skipping Stones Magazine as one of its 28 Honored Books for 2023. Skipping Stones, an international magazine for young readers, established in 1988, celebrates cultural and ecological diversity; its annual book awards highlight titles that “foster respect for multiple viewpoints and closer relationships within human societies.”

Skipping Stones recognized the Media and Me as an outstanding teaching resource. “This book is aimed at young people, but it is an educational resource for media users of all ages,” educator Daemion Lee wrote in his review of The Media and Me.

Skipping Stones Award

We’re especially pleased with Skipping Stones’s student review of the book. Anna Dillon, a high school junior from Oregon, praised The Media and Me for “addressing complex topics, such as racism in the media, how advertisers target the unconscious mind, and how news media has become distorted, in simple, easy-to-understand language.”

Geracoulis at SPJ’s Future Leaders Academy

Mischa GeracoulisMischa Geracoulis, a contributing editor at The Markaz Review and one Project Censored’s esteemed judges, took part in the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2023 Future Leaders Academy, held in Indianapolis, Indiana, July 21-23. The event brought together a select group of media professionals from across the nation for a deep dive into SPJ’s mission to protect and uphold journalism’s role and responsibility in democracy.

“Through historical examination, interactive training, and connection with others, my vision and optimism for the future of journalism and humanity have been reignited,” Geracoulis reported. “I am grateful to have been a part of FLA23 and to be a part of continuing the work of SPJ into the future.”

Geracoulis, who is also a member of the editorial board of The Censored Press, prepared and introduced the “Media Democracy in Action” chapters of State of the Free Press 2023 and the Project’s forthcoming yearbook, State of the Free Press 2024.

Project Censored Dispatches on Media and Politics

The Project’s most recent Dispatches on Media and Politics highlight legislative developments that bear close watching for their potential impacts on freedom of information online and media literacy education.

In EARN IT Still Ignores Privacy, Censorship ConcernsShealeigh Voitl and avram anderson described a host of bills introduced at the federal and state levels, ostensibly to protect children from online exploitation. But, as Voitl, the Project’s editorial associate, and anderson, a collection management librarian at California State University, Northridge, wrote, “despite their claimed intent, these bills will make children, and everyone who uses the internet, less safe.”

The EARN IT Act would undermine Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a cornerstone of online freedom of expression, forcing online platforms to engage in overbroad censorship of user content to avoid liability, Voitl and anderson reported. Another bill, KOSA, the Kids Online Safety Act, would authorize states’ attorneys general to determine what content young people should be allowed to access. “Giving this broad power to attorneys general in states where reproductive rights and gender-affirming care are criminalized could potentially lead to widespread censorship of content related to race, gender, sexuality, and other important but controversial topics,” Voitl and anderson warned.

The Progressive June 2023In addition to writing for the Dispatches series, Voitl and anderson each have co-authored chapters for previous volumes of the Project Censored yearbook series. Project Censored highlighted the EARN IT Act as one of the top “Censored” stories of 2021-22.

And, in case you haven’t yet read it, Shealeigh Voitl’s previous article, “How Corporate News Distorts Gun Violence,” which first appeared in the June/July 2023 issue of The Progressive, is now posted on the Progressive’s website here.

In Mandatory Media Literacy Education Could Be Coming to California Schools SoonNolan Higdon and Mickey Huff considered two media literacy education bills currently under consideration in California, AB873 and AB787. Although Higdon and Huff called the legislation under consideration “a major step forward,” they warned that stronger measures are needed “to ensure that non-profit educational institutions and scholarly experts—not just industry insiders from corporate media and Big Tech representatives—shape the media literacy education curriculum offered in California.”

Reviewing past efforts to create programming that enhances young peoples’ media literacy, produced by corporate outlets such as Channel One and Nickelodeon, Higdon and Huff wrote, “Educators must ensure that they are offering students a critical news literacy, not a corporate sponsored one.” Beyond the ability to determine whether news is factual or not, critical news literacy education empowers students “to interrogate the power dynamics expressed in media content,” they noted.

Higdon and Huff coauthored Let’s Agree To Disagree and contributed to The Media and Me.

The Project Censored Show

How Bisexuality is Treated Within Native Communities

Photo credit @pink_cotton_candy via Canva

The Project Censored Show’s June 22, 2023 episode featured Eleanor Goldfield in conversation with Venezuelan political analyst Leonardo Flores on the US imprisonment of Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab, who has sought food and medicine for Venezuelans struggling under US sanctions. The episode also included Goldfield’s follow-up interview with Matilda Bliss and Veronica Coit, journalists with the Asheville Blade, whom a jury found guilty of trespassing while they covered the 2021 clearing of a homeless encampment in a public park. Bliss, Coit, and Goldfield discussed the dangerous precedent established by the verdict for journalists across the country.

For the July 3, 2023 episodeMickey Huff spoke with independent journalist Norman Solomon about his new book, War Made Invisible: How America Hides the Human Toll of its Military Machine. Solomon and Huff discussed the legacy of the US “War on Terror,” and the role of the establishment press in preventing the American public from understanding its enduring consequences. In the same episode, Eleanor Goldfield spoke with comedian, author, and activist Lee Camp about his new book Dangerous Ideas, and the use of comedy as a “gateway drug” for questioning everything from useless purchases and the global capitalist economy to state censorship.

The Show’s July 10, 2023 episode addressed the colonial origins of the concept of “Whiteness” and how bisexuality is treated within Native communities. Eleanor Goldfield interviewed historian Gerald Horne, whose most recent book is Revolting Capital: Racism and Radicalism in Washington, D.C., 1900-2000. Horne connected the colonial origins of “Whiteness” with current events, including the Supreme Court decision striking down affirmative action programs at universities. Eleanor also interviewed Jen Deerinwater, a member of the Cherokee Nation and founder of Crushing Colonialism, who drew on their life experiences to address how bisexuality is often misunderstood, and how it is treated within Native communities.

The July 17, 2023 episode focused on the role of independent media and critical media literacy education in a democratic society. Raza Rumi, director of the Park Institute for Independent Media at Ithaca College, noted that, in most of the important social movements in US history, journalists played important roles within the movements, rather than remaining on the sidelines in the name of “objectivity.” Nolan Higdon, author of The Anatomy of Fake News, reported on two bills under consideration in California (AB873 and AB787) that would require media-literacy instruction in the state’s public schools. Higdon advocated for input from educators and relevant nonprofits to counterbalance the outsized influence of Big Tech on how media literacy education gets implemented in public school classrooms.

“Junk Food News” Song on Spotify

Need three minutes of levity? We’re pleased to report you can now listen to “Junk Food News” by Willie Sordillo, on Spotify. Longtime Project fans will remember Sordillo’s tune from the closing credits of Project Censored: The Movie—Ending the Reign of Junk Food News, the 2013 award-winning documentary by filmmakers and (Media Freedom Foundation board members) Doug Hecker and Christopher Oscar. “That’s some news… with a little protein!”