OFF LIMITS

All the news that's unfit to print: Every year Carl Jensen and a loyal staff of news watchdogs at Sonoma State University in California pore over publications large and small, sniffing out the important stories that appeared somewhere--anywhere--only to be met by almost overwhelming silence from other media outlets.

Jensen's Project Censored results in an annual top-ten list that, for 1993, Jensen extended to the 25 best examples of "news that didn't make the news--and why." Thanks to that extension, three Colorado publications made the cut for the 1994 Project Censored Yearbook. Despite the fact that one is the Denver Post (a January 1993 Post story is cited along with Westword's Rocky Flats work as No. 12: "The Grand Jury That Wouldn't Take It Anymore")--neither Denver daily has acknowledged the local winners.

That in itself smacks of censorship, says Jamie York, editor of the Boulder-based Cuba Advocate, which weighs in at No. 15: "Thousands of Cubans Losing Their Sight Because of Malnutrition."

Started four years ago in Santa Cruz, California, the Cuba Advocate came to Boulder two years ago, when founder Maura Baird asked York to take on the monthly newsletter. "I had written an article for them, a media critique" on coverage of Cuba, York explains. He'd visited the country for the first time in 1991 and came away impressed. "It was an eye-opener," York recalls. "I got to hear about the community-based health-care system, free educational system, no homelessness and strides toward improvements racially."

York contends that "limited" U. S. coverage of Cuba benefits "wealthy, influential Cuban-Americans who want the total capitulation of socialist Cuba to capitalism." But it's not easy covering Cuba from landlocked Boulder. With just one correspondent on the island, the Advocate collects much of its information through PeaceNet, Radio Cuba and other interest groups, including the Center for Cuban Studies in New York City.

For the Advocate's award-winning story of May 1993, though, authors York and Emily Coffey simply summarized Lizette Alvarez's lengthy Knight-Ridder article that warned of a rare disease, optic neuropathy, on the rise in Cuba because of poor nutrition--and then added a crucial fact that hadn't appeared in the original story: The 33-year-old blockade of Cuba was largely responsible for the crisis. The U.S. government was using food as a political weapon. "The main article was well written," says York, "but it didn't say anything about the U.S. blockade issue."

The Advocate's addition of that angle earned the salute from Project Censored. As Coffey and York told Jensen's researchers, "How does the public learn about U.S. government policies if they are not mentioned by the media? What happened to the public's right to know?"

Connect the dots: The Censored Yearbook briefly touches on two other Colorado-based entities, US West and TCI, for scratching the "phone companies' media-merger itch." And TCI's John Malone appears on Premiere magazine's addendum to its "Power List" of the 100 most important people in Hollywood. "Expect him to buy as much of Hollywood as he can," Premiere says. "But he's a bit player--a bit of MCA, a bit of Sony, a bit of Fox.

 
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