Revolution#109, November 18, 2007

Project Censored Conference

Revolution Awarded Outstanding Investigative Journalism for “Mexico: The Political Volcano Rumbles”

On October 26th, Project Censored’s Media Accountability Conference opened with a panel of journalists describing the step-by-step moves that have been made toward martial law (rule by the military) in the U.S.  Mike Whitney said he thought a police-state could be sprung into place with an attack on Iran.  Jeremy Scahill described how Blackwater Worldwide, the private army notorious for murdering innocent people in Iraq, was on the streets of New Orleans armed with M-16s in the days after Katrina.  Someone from the audience asked what it takes to bring the people into action to stop this, and Frank Morales of St. Mark’s Church in New York responded that we need to sacrifice, a lot is at stake, and it is time for us to step up.

This opening panel reflected the theme of Project Censored’s new volume, Censored 2008, The Top 25 Censored Stories of 2006-07.  Project Censored, an investigative media analysis project at Sonoma State University, has released the top censored stories every year for over thirty years—involving thousands of hours each year researching what it calls “the news that didn’t make the news.”  This year’s book is focused on “the systemic erosion of human rights and civil liberties, in both the U.S. and the world” (from Censored 2008).  Revolution’s September 10, 2006 (#60) article, “Mexico: The Political Volcano Rumbles,” was chosen for the #18 most censored story, Mexico’s Stolen Election.

The theme of this year’s book is weighing heavily on the minds of many of the journalists and conference participants.  One of the questions that repeatedly came up from the audience at the different panels was: What can we do to stop this?  There was also an atmosphere at the conference of open discussion about a wide range of topics, with students and others gathering to talk to each other and the journalists at every break.  We had conversations with participants about everything from communism, to the Southern California fires, to the attacks on science and academia, to women’s reproductive rights in the U.S. and Latin America, and the attacks on immigrants.

As contributing writers for Revolution, we were invited to the Media Accountability Conference to accept the award for Revolution’s “Outstanding Investigative Journalism” and speak on a panel called “Hidden Agendas Regarding Mexico.”  We gave a presentation about our December 2006 trip to Oaxaca, highlighting the voices and stories of the people we met there who were part of the massive struggle last year to drive out Oaxaca’s widely-hated governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz.  We also talked about the underlying contradictions that gave rise to this struggle, including the relationship of domination and exploitation between the U.S. and Mexico.  People asked big and deep questions, including how do we get the American people to stand up in the way the people of Oaxaca did.  We replied that this is the challenge urgently placed before us, that the people in this country are going to have to break out of politics-as-usual, to get out into the streets in mass political protest, and to risk something if we’re going to have a chance to move society in a different direction.

After hearing our presentation, one of the students commented that hearing the stories about the people in Oaxaca and what has compelled them to act really made her think about the urgency of the situation we’re living in now.  She was very upset after hearing about the conditions that drive young people, like 14-year-old youth in the Mixteca, to leave their homes and travel to the cities in Mexico or risk their lives crossing the border to come to the U.S., only then to be rounded up by ICE like criminals along with thousands of other immigrants.

When it came time to accept the award for “Mexico: The Political Volcano Rumbles,” we told the audience: for those of us who want to see an end to the horrors the U.S. is unleashing on the world, we welcome the “rumblings” to the south, and the mass political eruptions, both there and here.

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