Project Censored's annual guilt trip is back!

Plus: Why Gore may flop in Washington; sex assaults up in Boston schools; and more tales from the alternative press.

Published April 16, 1999 10:46AM (EDT)

The San Francisco Bay Guardian, March 24, 1999

"Not fit to print?" By Gabriel Roth

Gabriel Roth's recapitulation of Project Censored's list of the 10 most uncovered stories of 1998 has become 1999's most reprinted cover story -- gracing the front pages of the Willamette Week, the Baltimore City Paper, the Tucson Weekly and lord knows how many other untold alternative weeklies, each paper shaping the piece to serve its purposes with a little cut-cut, snip-snip and some local spin.

While it's a sad fact that at this very moment big corporations are doing naughty things in Africa and our government is behaving badly behind a screen of red tape, few editors have figured out a way to make Chevron's misdeeds in Nigeria or hypocrisy at General Electric's headquarters sell papers. So once a year, the media play up Project Censored's guilt trip, and then it's back to the standard blow jobs, bombings and Viagra studies. If Project Censored and its alternative weekly cheerleaders could somehow find a way to make the stories it lists interesting and relevant to the average reader, they'd have accomplished something. In the meantime, if you're hankering for a smugness boost and argument fodder for future dinners with Andre, then have a read of whatever version of this story strikes your fancy.

Seattle Weekly, April 15-21

"Campaign" by Mike Romano

Mike Romano, the Seattle Weekly's technology reporter, explains how Redmond, Wash., has become a key campaign stop for candidates hoping to wow the tech crowd. But Vice President Al Gore has avoided the Microsoft headquarters on his trips to the area, preferring to hobnob in Seattle instead. That snub, combined with Gore's siding against the software giant in the ongoing antitrust case, could hurt the veep who would be POTUS in Washington state next election, says Romano. Not to worry, he adds, Gore can more than make up for what he lacks in Bill's home state in California, where his refusal to embrace all things Microsoft is quite popular.

The Austin Chronicle, April 15

"Not with their money" by Mike Butts

If you're still smarting from this year's tax bill, you may want to consider this profile of Austin's four war tax resisters (those refusing to pay their taxes because they don't want the money to fund wars), by the unfortunately named Mike Butts. Somehow shelling over a few thou a year seems preferable to having assets seized or simply living in poverty on purpose so there's nothing for the government to take.

The Village Voice, April 14-20

"Crisis in family court" by Karen Houppert

You just can't win in New York. An overwhelmed foster care system sends a few kids home to abusive parents. The kids are killed. The media, the public and politicians demand immediate change. Amazingly, it happens. The city cracks down without much thought to the long-term consequences. Now the justice system is collapsing under the strain of keeping track of these displaced children. Worse yet, innocent parents are losing their kids. The media, the public and politicians demand immediate change ...

"I'm more wired than you!" by Edmund Lee

The Village Voice's technology columnist Edmund Lee has made a startling discovery. Based on solid anecdotal evidence, it seems that today's successful, young, urban-dwelling career types like to buy the latest in technological gadgets! You know, fancy stuff, like PalmPilots and Nokia cell phones. In a shocking revelation, Lee points out that these people with money to burn and no time to lose are called "early adopters." Which means that -- unlike Mr. Lee -- they're the first to jump on a trend bandwagon.

The Village Voice Education Supplement, Summer '99

Why the Voice runs an educational supplement in April, when students are more likely to be thinking of the perfect beer bong for Spring Break than of student loan sharks, is beyond me. But they've got a quirky editorial mix for their collegiate audience: bounty hunters sent to collect loan payments; scholarships with unthinkable tradeoffs; and guides whose job it is to educate newcomers to contemporary art, shielding them from the cruel and ego-withering gaze of blasi gallery assistants.

The Boston Phoenix, April 15, 1999

"Teaching respect" by Sarah McNaught

Are the condoms, anatomy lessons and AIDS warnings of high school sex education adequate? With rape and
sexual assault on the rise in Boston's public schools, police and other officials wonder if lessons on the hazards of abusing your fellow classmates aren't a necessary addition to the curriculum. But the school district seems unwilling to listen. Sarah McNaught files a balanced, nonhysterical report on a frightening trend.

The Stranger, April 15-21

"Toe-tapping tragedy" by Adrian Ryan

Sure, it's an easy target, but you have to laugh along as Adrian Ryan sinks his (her?) teeth into the Broadway musical version of "Titanic." My fave part: "And without a tousle-haired teen heartthrob bridging the class gap between the long-suffering steerage passengers and the |ber-snobs up top, the story line is divided into three distinct levels: (1) Irish peasants drowning like rats; (2) middle-class hardware store owners drowning like rats; and (3) upper-class women sitting in boats watching everyone else drown like rats. And none of them seem to be very upset about it. They just keep on singing."

Feed, March 12, 1999

"Dial up for murder" by Deborah Shapiro

The Internet takes the premise of "reality" shows like "Cops" and "Unbelievable Acts Caught on Tape" to new levels with a Web-based paging system that lets you know when a car chase is being broadcast live on TV. Another site devotes all its content to covering true crime. Deborah Shapiro concludes that all this coverage makes true crime lose its glamour and appeal, which may be true, but doesn't explain the mass demand for more.

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In the spirit of Project Censored's top 10 underreported stories, I've plucked a few choice examples of Everyman getting screwed by Big Brother, or something like that. Enjoy.

"Envy hits New York's Web Workers in the Greedy I.P.O. Rush of '99"
Summarized: All my friends got rich off the Internet and I got stuck writing this lousy New York Observer column. Waaaah!


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By Jenn Shreve

Jenn Shreve writes about media, technology and culture for Salon, Wired, the Industry Standard, the San Francisco Examiner and elsewhere. She lives in Oakland, Calif.

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