RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Thu Feb 28 2002 - 10:55:15 GMT

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence
    Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2002 10:55:15 -0000
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            Hi Douglas,

            <An interesting aspect of the story is how 'hot' news items get

    > One example is the anthrax story. (see below) Another is the 'short
    > selling'
    > 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
    > months
    > 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.
    > I've
    > been trying to find credible links on the short-selling story, but so far
    > have
    > only found 'conspiracy' sites which link the short selling with a bank run
    > by
    > 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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