Society & Culture
Project Censored's Andy Lee Roth on Censored 2020: Through the Looking Glass
On this edition of Parallax Views, arising from the aftermath of the Watergate scandal the media watchdog organization Project Censored was founded in 1976 by Dr. Carl Jensen of Sonoma State University to "educate students and the public about the importance of a truly free press for democratic self-government". For over 40 years it has sought to shine a much needed light on issues like censorship, junk food news, news abuse, and critical media literacy. In addition to producing documentaries and a weekly radio program on these important matters, Project Censored publishes an annual yearbook which attempts to collate the top censored news stories and media analysis of the past year. Joining us to discuss the latest yearbook in this series, Censored 2020: Through the Looking Glass, is Andy Lee Roth, the associate director of Project Censored and coordinator of Project Censored's Validated Independent News program.
The conversation begins with a discussion of Project Censored's mission. Andy Lee Roth references the work of the 20th century Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Walter Lippman in this regard and his famous quote arguing that journalism should, "Tell the truth and shame the devil." From there we delve into how Project Censored decides what stories will go into the annual Censored yearbook and fills us in on the Project's Validated Independent News program.
Andy then shares with us the poem that opens up Censored 2020 and explains why it used in this edition of the annual yearbook. Then we discuss the Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass motifs that inform the book. Roth explains how these motifs seem prevalent in an age of fake news and media distortion. This brings us into a discussion of fake news and some of the possibly problematic solutions being offered to combat it.
From there we discuss some of the chapters contained in Censored 2020: Through the Looking Glass starting with April Anderson and Andy's report on coverage of LGQBTQ+ issues in the age of Trump. We then talk about the annual "Media Democracy in Action" chapter which includes contributions from transparency advocate Russ Kick, Kathyrn Foxhall of the Society of Professional Journalists, and others. Andy and I then discuss a few of the stories included in the top 25 censored stories section of Censored 2020. In particular, Andy tells us about the upsetting story of flawed investigations into sexual assault at Children's Migrant Center and the more positive story of new programs that are making school food systems more equitable.
We begin wrapping up the conversation by discussing the state of journalism and the media ecosystem today, specifically in light of the recent collapse of Splinter and Deadspin under G/O Media. Andy and I chat about what the future may hold for journalism in the years ahead. And, as always, we try to end the conversation on a positive note in these precarious times.
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