What: A screening of the documentary "Project Censored the Movie"
When: 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Boulder Creek Room of the Boulder Public Library, 1001 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder
History matters, especially when it affects our most important rights and liberties.
During and after the U.S. Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787-88, leading revolutionary figures joined with others to form the anti-Federalists. This group opposed the powers invested in the federal government in the proposed Constitution and insisted on the inclusion of the protection of individual rights. Out of this struggle, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, called the Bill of Rights, were born.
The First Amendment may enshrine the most important rights we have as Americans. It reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievance."
Imagine for a moment living in a society that did not guarantee these rights.
Although these rights have been seriously eroded, we still have them to some degree. We must, however, be constantly aware of the ways that they are being undermined through a variety of forces. As American abolitionist Wendell Phillips said in 1852, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."
A free and independent press, guaranteed by the First Amendment, is essential for an informed citizenry in a democracy. Unfortunately, the mainstream media has been compromised by consolidation and the profit motive. Today, about 90 percent of the news, information and entertainment that Americans see, hear and watch is provided by six mega media conglomerates, run by 272 executives. These six conglomerates own 1,500 newspapers, 1,100 magazines, 9,000 radio stations, 1,500 TV stations and 2,400 publishers. In contrast, in 1983, 50 corporations owned the majority of the media.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996, passed under President Bill Clinton, had a significant impact on media consolidation because it relaxed regulations that limited ownership of radio stations and telecommunications. It allowed corporations to expand ownership across media sectors. The act resulted in the sale of thousands of local radio stations to large corporations, with the resultant loss of diversity in viewpoints and ideas.
Since conglomerates consist of many unrelated businesses, conflict of interests arise when media conglomerates own companies from which they profit. This results in censorship of stories that are important for Americans to know. In their seminal book "Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media," Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman delineated five filters through which corporate media must pass. These include ownership, the requirements of advertisers, the complicity of the media elite and government, flak or "staying in line," and creating the common enemy or bogeyman.
According to directors Mickey Huff and Andy Lee Roth, for 40 years, Project Censored (projectcensored.org) has been drawing attention to "how corporate reporting often limits the accepted scope of public debate on crucial public affairs and social issues to a narrow range of perspectives that reflect conventional political narratives and serve corporate interests." In 2013, the multi-award-winning documentary "Project Censored the Movie" was released. It will be shown at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Boulder Creek Room of the Boulder Public Library, 1001 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder. It is free. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.