Digging for the truth
Petalumans finish work on their first documentary, 'Project Censored'
Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 9:24 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 9:24 a.m.
Local real estate professionals, Doug Hecker and Christopher Oscar are living, working, and raising families here in Sonoma County. But while having fully embraced the inherent calm of “suburban” life, they've also become freedom fighters. They've become part of a 37-year media watchdog group known as Project Censored, whose mission, they saw, is returning journalism to its original and ethically-motivated purpose; that of insuring our voting public has the information it needs to make educated decisions.
The documentary “Project Censored” will premiere on April 12 at the Sebastiana Theater in downtown Sonoma.
For details on the movie, visit www.sonomafilm fest.org.
To learn more about Proj-ect Censored, visit www.projectcensored.org.
Project Censored was started by Carl Jensen as a working part of Sonoma State University's Communications Department. Jensen's initial goal was to alert the public as to the stories and current events that have been under-reported, buried, or completely ignored by the media. Project Censored, now over 200 members strong, publishes an annual list of 25 such stories in a book titled, Censored.
Hecker, 46 and Oscar, 41, have written and directed a film (currently in its final mixing and editing stages) to get the word out about Project Censored's mission. Their hope is that the film will be instrumental in igniting a grass-roots movement among concerned citizens. The film openly challenges the public to:
• Abandon complacency concerning potential threats to our ability to be informed citizens; turn off corporate media, referred to by Hecker and Oscar as “Junk Food News.”
They list their choices for top-five worst perpetrators as Fox News, MSNBC (Microsoft/National Broadcasting Company), CNN (Cable News Network), ABC (American Broadcasting Company) and CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System).
• Research and experience alternate media. Hecker and Oscar listed their recommended top five in this category as KPFA Radio, Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman, the BBC, Russian Televisoin (RTN) and Al Jazeera.
Both were fed up with what was passing for news, and equally disappointed by the absence of “meat” in every available avenue of popular journalism. Hecker and Oscar joined forces in 2007 to create “Project Censored,” the movie, which makes the point that today's news content only serves to waste our most valuable commodity — time. The film reminds us that American democracy was built on the citizen's right to question the government. The rhetorical question that is then put forth by the film is, “How can relevant questions be forthcoming without the knowledge needed to form them?”
Hecker credits Jonah Raskin, his communications instructor at SSU, as being his inspiration to join forces with Project Censored. Peter Phillips was the director of Project Censored at the time and also another of Hecker's professors. It was Phillips who gave Hecker and Oscar, a former journalism student at Long Island University, permission to move forward with the film.
Oscar's involvement with Project Censored was inspired by a family trip to Denia, Spain. He was bowled over by the citizens there who had just started a major push-back against their own media system. Oscar recalls, “They were energized and organizing to preserve the sanctity of their news information sources.”
Oscar spoke about an example of important news gone-missing here in the states. “In recent times, a major injustice has been inflicted on Americans. The passing of The Patriot Act has effectively removed our rights of Habeas Corpus. The constitution was clear in stating that every citizen will have the right to a trial before incarceration. The authors of the Patriot Act would have us believe that the only way to protect ourselves from terrorist attack is to give up our civil liberties. This story has somehow escaped the media's supposed watchful eye.”
When asked about expediting the change in the average person's news source choices, Hecker responded, “We're not saying that people shouldn't be entertained. However, people need to be informed with fact-based news and information, not fear-inducing, yellow journalism serving as a conduit for platforms put forth by corporate owners, and the government.”
A film premiere screening is scheduled for April 12 at Sebastiani Theater in downtown Sonoma (on the plaza) as part of the Sonoma Film Festival lineup.
For information on screening dates and times for “Project Censored,” the movie, go online to sonomafilmfest.org
For more information and to learn about joining Project Censored, log on to Projectcensored.org
(Contact Sheldon Bermont at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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