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<An interesting aspect of the story is how 'hot' news items get
> One example is the anthrax story. (see below) Another is the 'short
> of stocks scandal, that disappeared from the news. A valuable source of
> cultural information isn't new 'news', its 'news' that a few weeks or
> older. How do memeticists account for the process of forgetting? It's a
> social or cultural consensus about what can be said, what's important?
> On the anthrax story - the bit below was in a UK paper only last week.
> been trying to find credible links on the short-selling story, but so far
> only found 'conspiracy' sites which link the short selling with a bank run
> the Executive Director of the CIA.
> I'm thinking about the social anthropology of collective forgetting.>
This kind of thing is something I'm very interested in too. I think
there's something memetic in journalists' behaviour, indeed there's already
a term for it- pack journalism. I'm interested in how some stories become
major national, even international stories generating thousands of words and
hundreds of hours of broadcast reporting. What's already clear, from the
work I've come across in teaching the sociology of journalism for half a
dozen years or so, is that there's little relationship between events'
importance and the amount of coverage they get (with a few exceptions, Sep
11 being one). All sorts of practical issues get involved in reporting
events, and arguably a range of ideological issues (often stemming more from
the paymasters than the journalists themselves) also. Anyway, even within
the recognised aspects of journalism studies, it seems to me there's a gap
in the understanding of the runaway story, which memetics may offer
something towards. Eventually I'll get round to doing some kind of study of
In terms of the social anthropology of collective forgetting, maybe
cases studies of holocaust deniers, or other pseudo-historical groups would
be interesting. The David Irving trial offered a fascinating insight into
how someone distorted the historical record for their own beliefs, and more
significantly perhaps how proper historical analysis could demonstrate this.
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