Giraffe Heroes Database

Jensen, Carl

Jensen, Carl

Carl Jensen is a media-man. His professional life has been entirely focused on media, as a reporter for the Miami Daily News, publisher of a weekly paper, copy editor for the Wall Street Journal and an executive at a major New York advertising agency. In a mid-life career switch, he became a professor of sociology at Sonoma State in California but found his interest still focused on media. He fought for and ultimately created a Communications Studio program at Sonoma.

Giving young people an ethical as well as practical foundation for working in media was good work, but still not good enough for Professor Jensen. His concern that the power of the media was not being properly used spurred him to start Project Censored, and effort to identify the stories that weren’t getting to the public. Jensen recruited a panel of journalists and scholars to help choose the 10 stories most “overlooked, ignored or underreported” every year. Jensen feels that a fully informed public will make wise policy decisions and that the media has moral obligation to report fully and fairly on all sides of public issues. Project Censored has been called “a distant early warning system for society’s problems” and has become a tip sheet for investigative programs like “60 minutes” and “20/20.” The St. Louis Journalism Review and The New Statesman in London have since launched their own “Ten Best Censored Stories” lists.

Project Censored has attracted a lot of attention but no funding; Jensen runs it on his own money and time -- he’s cut his class schedule to put in more time on the project. His wife has take on a full time job to help the couple make ends meet.

Though Jensen’s family and fellow faculty members have been supportive, they may be in a minority position on his work. He’s angered media professionals by challenging them to do better and he’s run into great opposition from people who label him “subversive” for his criticism. Death threats and boycotts haven’t stopped him -- Professor Jensen believes deeply in the power and duty of the media to inform the citizenry and he plans to keep reminding them of their responsibility.

You can nominate an overlooked news story that deserves more attention on his website.

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Age when commended: adult (20-64)
Year commended: 1988
Occupation: Educator
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