Magazine article American Journalism Review

Today's Big News May Not Be So Obvious

Magazine article American Journalism Review

Today's Big News May Not Be So Obvious

Article excerpt

Has news ended? Here's the argument, mainly from people who were around to report big events of the past, or at least to experience them.

Nothing is happening now, they say. Think about those big stories of the century.

There was the Depression: inescapable news on all fronts, with every kind of story, from Dust-bow migrations to ruined investors leaping from New York skyscrapers.

Then World War II. It was everywhere, in one form or another. People wanted to know exactly where Corregidor and Iwo Jima were. Now they see no reason to know where Beijing is.

The Cold War, of course, was an even longer-running story, with news unavoidable every day. People may not have known what the capital of Kentucky was, but they knew what the KGB did, and they wanted to know all about what was in those silos in Nebraska.

Space seemed a bigger story when there was a race to land on the moon, and truly big when humans went there and came back. Actually, more important news probably is coming in now from unmanned space probes much farther afield, but the earlier elements of drama are missing.

The collapse of the Evil Empire was a great story to end the Cold War story. The visuals were unexpectedly good: people breaking chunks off the Berlin Wall, Boris Yeltsin standing defiantly on a tank and Red Army troops firing shells into the Russian Parliament building.

So those were the days. Real news. Somehow this perception coincides neatly with the career spans of those who were there. But they have a point, if you think of news as being essentially unmistakable, obvious, unavoidable. …

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