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The statement below is often true, although often the trivial drives out the
important. And what of events of equivalent importance (or urgency)?
Journalists make judgements about relative importance (part of the area
known as news values in the field), but their criteria aren't necessarily
related to social importance.
<Or as a civil servant in the Irish Ministry of Education recently
> anonymously) said: "The urgent drives out the important">
In terms of Grant's comment:
<A society or culture is like a person in that it, too, has long
> short term memory. You'll find long-term memory in the history books and
> short-term memory in the newspapers and magazines. The distinction is
> becoming more blurred with each passing day, but the news media does
> what's hot and what's not for us. Just because an issue slips to
> space does not mean that it's forgotten. We still dredge up Socrates, for
> God's sake. Little or nothing is forgotten anymore. It just can't
> with the clammor of more pressing issues for our attention.>
Again some truth in this, the problem is that events are often
unresolved, unfinished before the press have moved onto the next big story.
Whilst we have more information circulating about events now, I'm not sure
how much easier it will be for historians 500 years from now than it is for
historians today looking back 500 years. Plus, of course, the media become
part of the events they report on e.g. the difficulty in waging a war in a
mediated country where every soldier or civilian killed gets voluminous
coverage, as with the current Afghan conflict. One of the gaps in media
research, which would fit into memetics research also, would be the role of
the press in particular modern myths (although myths might not quite be the
right word). In particular in my mind would be things like Jack the Ripper
(the press played a major role in the event at the time, including giving
the killer their name); the Loch Ness Monster (popularised, in, IIRC, the
1920s in the press); the Titanic disaster (how many people remember the
sister ship that had a trouble free working life?); or the Roswell Incident
(now probably the best known UFO/alien story).
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