15 February 2006

Media Memory: I thought he was dead.

That was my first thought when I read the linked article a few days back; "I thought he was dead". Which of course he isn't, as far as I know. Unless Israeli medicine is so far advanced of modern medicine that operating on a dead man is anything other than a fantastic waste of time. It's possible; if they can surgically destroy Palestinian civilians with Cobra gunships, while only denting the intended Hamas targets, who know what they can do.

This post only came about when reading a previous post about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I realised that the only news I have heard recently about the wake of Katrina is that the US have magnanimously decided to share the blame across all levels of government. Which is big of them. What I haven't heard is what shape New Orleans is in, are its citizens still spread across the remaining Lower 471, did anyone get fired over it, are they bothering to do anything about it?

Who knows? Certainly people outside the US only get sporadic information, when a news station does a news special: "Katrina: One Month / Year On". I'll wager even most Americans don't know; you tell me, does the local TV station2 tell you these things?

It's scary to think that even today with 24-Hour news, we only find out what they tell us. Well, duh! OK, what I mean is that someone decides what is News. Some Editor somewhere looks at all the possible stories and decides what the News is and that's what we get. Just another example of how the MSM (a blogger-specific term wot I just learned - MainStream Media) manipulates our world.

I get the feeling that the editorial decision to just cover breaking and recent stories may account for the existence, success and demise of things like Fathers4Justice. In order that someone's plight is recognised, something newsworthy needs to happen to highlight their predicament, whether its pelting Tone with flour, or climbing up the side of the Queen, or poking the London Eye. Only big, public changes to a situation make the news.

But I'm also thinking, having written the above paragraph, that what I'm asking may be outside the remit of the News. If News is meant to cover "new" stories, then asking them to recover old stories would not be up to them. Maybe what we need is an accompanyment to the News. So after the Nine O'Clock News, we get the NineThirty Olds. Sir Trevor could be persuaded to present follow-ups to stories that aren't new enough to make the news.

I think I may have stumbled upon the reason for programmes like Newsnight and....the other political discussion programmes that barely register on my TV radar. They serve as bookends for the News, highlighting the news of the future and picking over its remains once its anniversaries are due. Plus it gives Paxman somewhere to submit the ne'er-do-well du jour to his own brand of Righteous Justice.

So, remember that what you see on the News is not everything. What you saw on the News yesterday is still going on. The repercussions of the news a year ago are still being felt. Keep the Olds alive!

1 I doubt any of the evacuees were lucky enough to get sent to Hawaii, or unlucky enough to get sent to Alaska.
2 If only US TV and Radio station names were allowed in Scrabble. Imagine the points you could get with "WKXY" and a Triple Word Score!

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