Letters to Editor Are Insurance for Freedom of Speech
All media choose to not publish vital stories and information about events and circumstances which make a significant difference in our lives. In theory, the check or balance to this secret information is your ability to write a letter to the editor. Not well known is how newspapers censor your letters to the editor.
Temporary Maybe, Permanent - Never.
Health or safety concerns or Lack of space can be valid reasons for temporarily delaying a letter and omitting vital information, but there is no valid reason for permanently omitting a story. Political censorship is never valid as is the claim your writing is bad.
Censorship of Letters to the editor range from simply refusing to publish your letter which contains important facts which have never been reported, to "editing" or removing phrases, sentences or entire paragraphs. I once had a newspaper rewrite my letter without my permission, weaken a numerical fact they didn't like, and finally refuse to run the factual correction I requested even though fully backed up by the evidence.
Censored Media Project Begins
Due to a series of complaints about the local newspapers refusing vital letters, we started Censored Media Project of Monterey County in 1993. We invited anyone to send us a copy of any letter to the editor that has been refused or had vital information removed. The idea was to learn what else was being censored besides the letters we and colleagues wrote.
Vital Facts Often Intentionally Kept Out of The Herald
We found that the Monterey Peninsula's paper of record, the Herald, had a reliable pattern of censoring vital political news. While occasionally a letter supporting development, corporate interests or extractive industries was censored, by far, the censorship most heavily weighed against exposing facts supporting the public interest. We also found an almost complete block of any criticism of the Herald's reporting.
The Herald has censored letters from teachers, doctors, prominent citizens, children, a television station and even elected officials. The subjects range from mild (film reviews) to serious (development and water politics).
Most Newspapers Do It
We also found the Herald is not alone. Every other local newspaper has censored letters to the editor at least once that we know of - except Paul Laub's now discontinued (and aptly named) "Freedom of Speech."
Blanket Omission on TV
In an amusing footnote, KSBW, the most widely viewed local TV station claims to allow viewers to rebut their often goofy and radical editorials by the amusingly amateur actor and Station manager Joseph Heston. We tried to do so in 2004. Our most recent attempt was six months ago. We're still waiting for any of our several calls to be returned. And that's even before Heston knew what our subject was. In fact, I can't remember when KSBW has ever actually allowed a rebuttal to their editorials.
The Censored Media Project now has a prominent home on this website, so --
- If your letter to the editor is refused or has vital information removed or obscured, please send it to us at the address below or email it so we can post it here. The only other information we require is the date and newspaper you sent it to. If you wish to write a short note about the censorship we may include that as well.
Free Speech for All Sides.
HOPE finds Free Speech is so vital, so basic, so fundamental, to a healthy democracy and environmental protection we even strongly oppose censorship of views which fundamentally conflict with ours.
To be posted here your view does not have to be pro-environment or pro-democracy. This project is intended to fully support and encourage the most fundamental public interest of freedom of thought, speech, expression and writing.
Even if your censored letter was anti-environment or anti-democracy - please send us a copy of your letter.
Click here for Herald Censored Letters
Click here for Pine Cone Censored Letters