Media Freedom International MFI

media democracy in action – Linked with Project Censored International, and with Managed News: Inside The US/NATO Military Industrial Media Empire.

The Media Freedom Foundation (MFF) is a nonprofit 501-C-3 corporation established in 2000 to support First Amendment organizations and investigative research. The MFF raises funds for and works closely with Project Censored, and countless other investigative research and media related organizations. (About MFI).

Homepage;
Validated Independent News; Op-Ed; Press; Project Censored International; Project Censored Chapters; New book;
Address: Media Freedom Foundation, P.O. Box 571, Cotati, CA 94931,  USA;
Contact: not found, but go to Contact Project Censored.

An invitation to Colleges and Universities to Conduct Investigative Research for Independent Media and Human Betterment (by Peter Phillips): Investigative research is the use of social science research methods to conduct data collection and analysis of important socio-economic issues for broad public dissemination—much like in-depth investigative reporting. 

Investigative research, in a college/university setting, focuses on releasing valuable information through independent media for public consumption in addition to, or instead of, academic journals or presentations at scholarly conferences.  Investigative research is a democracy building process that addresses the socio-structural circumstances of who decides, who wins and who loses in society. Public investigative research in the social sciences asks the questions: Who are the people with the most power? Who makes the important decisions that affect our lives? How did these socio-political elites acquire their positions? What advantages do these individuals share and what impacts do these advantages have over others in society?

In a capitalist society, the economic winner is invariably advantaged, honored, and encouraged. From little league to academics, American society encourages competition. The winners are rewarded with honor, fame, and advantages in future competitions.  Success is seldom solely based on individual effort. Many structural advantages involving race, class, and gender are in place in society that creates unequal results among various groups of people.

For example, racial inequality remains problematic in the US. People of color continue to experience disproportionately high rates of poverty, unemployment, police profiling, repressive incarceration and school segregation.

According to a new UCLA civil rights report, “Reviving the Goal of an Integrated Society: A 21st Century Challenge,” by Gary Orfield, schools in the US are currently 44 percent non-white, and minorities are rapidly emerging as the majority of public school students.  Latinos and Blacks are the two largest minority groups.1 However, Black and Latino students attend schools more segregated today than during the civil rights era. Over fifty years after the US Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, schools remain separate and not equal. Orfield’s study shows that public schools in the Western states, including California, suffer from the most severe segregation in the US, rather than schools in the southern states, as many people believe.

This new form of segregation is primarily based on how urban areas are geographically organized—as Cornel West so passionately describes—into vanilla suburbs and chocolate cities.

Schools remain highly unequal in terms of money, qualified teachers, and up to date curricula.  Unequal education leads to diminished access to colleges and future jobs. Non-white schools are segregated by levels of income as well as by race. These “chocolate” low-income public schools are where most of the nation’s dropouts occur, leading to large numbers of virtually unemployable young people of color struggling to survive in a troubled economy.

Diminished opportunity for students of color invariably creates greater privileges for whites. White privilege is a challenging concept for many whites.  Whites like to think of themselves as hardworking individuals whose achievements are deserved due to personal efforts. In many cases this is partly true; hard work in college often pays off in many ways. Nonetheless, many whites find it difficult to accept that geographically-and structurally- based racism remains a significant barrier for many students of color. Whites often think that racism is in the past, and we that need not address it today. Yet inequality stares at us daily from the barrios, ghettos, and from behind prison walls.  Inequality continues in privileged universities as well.

A multi-ethnic and culturally diverse experience on university campuses is strongly valued in the US and is considered an important aspect of a college education.2 Higher education racial balance along with class equity is an ongoing subject of social justice research in many academic disciplines. Since the civil rights movement and 1960s campus unrest, much progress has been made on increasing minority and low-income access to colleges in the US. Public universities, and to a degree private universities, across the country annually assess their progress toward building socio-economic and racial equity. It is rare to see a public university that has effectively reversed this trend and deliberately tried to increase student wealth and maintain a non-diverse student population.

Project Censored students and faculty conducted an investigative research study on inequality in the California State University system in late 2008.3 The study described how Sonoma State University (SSU) had recently achieved the status of having the whitest, and likely richest, student population of any public university in the state of California. The investigative research showed that beginning in the early 1990s, the SSU administration specifically sought to market the campus as a public Ivy institution, offering an Ivy League experience at a state college price. Part of this public Ivy packaging was to advertise SSU as being in a destination wine country location with attractive physical and cultural amenities. These marketing efforts were principally designed to attract upper-income students to a Falcon Crest-like campus.

To achieve the desired outcome of becoming a wine-country public Ivy, SSU’s administration implemented special admissions screening processes that used higher SAT-GPA indexes than the rest of the California State University (CSU) system. According to Lani Guinier and Gerald Torres in The Miner’s Canary, high SAT scores correlate directly to both race and income with little relationship to actual success in college.4

SSU also conducted recruitment at predominately white upper-income public and private high schools throughout the west coast and Hawaii. Consequently, SSU freshmen students with family incomes over $150,000 increased by 59 percent between 1994 and 2007, and freshmen students from families with incomes below $50,000 declined by 21 percent. The campus remained over three-quarters white during this fifteen-year period, while the rest of the CSU campuses significantly increased ethnic diversity.

The study was published on the SSU Faculty Senate website, the statewide faculty union affirmative action website, and at Project Censored’s Investigative research site. The SSU student newspaper, Star, covered the story on the front page, and the local regional newspaper, Press Democrat, featured the story on their front page as well. The online news site InsideHighered.com covered the story nationally, and the authors were interviewed on two local talk radio stations as well as the much larger regional Pacifica station KPFA in Berkeley.5

While the SSU university administration denied that they had deliberately tried to recruit richer students, they were unable to deny the facts in the report and are now taking significant steps to correct the situation. An SSU President’s emergency task force on diversity was created in the spring of 2009. While we cannot claim full credit for this apparent reversal in policy at SSU, we certainly raised the level of discussion and awareness of the issue by releasing our investigative research study.

The data gathered from the study also supported the writing of a 700-word research informed opinion article entitled, “A Black President Doesn’t Mean Racism is gone in America.”6 The article was published on over fifty websites, including Truthout, Global Research, and the national black online newspaper SF Bay View. Several international websites translated and posted the article as well.

The opinion piece stressed that our society has reached a point where a majority of the population has elected a black President of the United States. This presidency is a hugely symbolic achievement for race relations in the US.  However, we must not ignore the continuing disadvantages for people of color and the resulting advantages gained by whites.  Institutional policies and de facto segregation contribute to continuing inequalities that require ongoing review, discussion and redress. Efforts against racism must continue if we are to truly attain the civil rights goal of equal opportunity for all. These efforts cannot be realized unless investigative research, such as the studies listed above, are available not only for academics inside specific disciplines, but also for a far boarder democratic public policy process that is inclusive of citizen level activism for human betterment.

The Role of Public Universities In Building Media Democracy and Transparency of the Powerful: … (full long text).

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