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Scooped

The problem with recycling old events and packaging them as news is the danger of being scooped. Perhaps that's why news organisations marked a couple of recent anniversaries so early this year. I'm thinking of the 10th anniversary of the tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people on Boxing Day 2004 and the 100th anniversary of the Christmas Truce between British and German troops during the First World War. The media started running tenth anniversary stories in early December and I'm sure I heard Truce stories in November. The problem with News is that the media has a short attention span, so, events are surrounded by a flare up of white-hot saturation coverage and then forgotten. There is little calm later analysis or follow-up. But both the anniversary "stories" I'm talking about were stale, stale, stale. In the case of the tsunami most were interviews with survivors who had been interviewed a decade before. A more interesting story would have been the damage done by the self-interest of so-called non-governmental aid organisations. Basically, as far as they were concerned it didn't matter what they did as long as they were seen to be doing something and doing it quickly. Long term meaningful help was not a priority for many aid organisations. Instead the priority is income-generating publicity. In the case of the Christmas Truce the stories basically involved reading out some diary or letters from participants. No attempt was made to look at how widespread the fraternization between the troops actually was. A couple of years ago few people were even aware of the Truce and now it has reached mythic proportions. In view of the unimaginative coverage of both events, I can see why media outlets were scared of being scooped and marked the anniversaries so far ahead. It's only four years until the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing, expect the first commemoration "stories" before 2015 is over.

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