Reminiscing is fun. Reliving memories of times past can bring pleasant feelings to mind and warm the cockles of one’s heart. There are not too many things I enjoy more than walking down memory lane and reliving the good times long gone. I am not alone, there is a whole industry dedicated to helping record the past for individuals as well as the media. Reminiscing is also a ratings giant. The news loves to remember the past, particularly if the past they are remembering is a story that garnered a lot of public attention. It can be like a two-fer for the stations. They get a rating boost when they break a big story, then another boost when they commemorate their coverage of the event.
The problem is that it is not just one news outlet doing the commemorations. Every news broadcast will spend a good chunk of their airtime reliving the past. This gets old fast. Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast five years ago and it was all the news that was reported for the better part of a week when it happened. It continued to dominate airtime for many weeks after. It got old then. I have no interest in reliving old news, so all the coverage of “Katrina five years later” got old again.
Two years ago, hurricane Ike ravaged Houston and naturally the local news spent every hour covering the effects of the storm. They spent so much time covering the storm that Houstonians didn’t learn about the financial crisis for weeks after the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailout. This is understandable, however, as the storm aftermath was more significant to the citizens of Houston at that moment in time than the start of the recession.
I can understand commemorating a public figure after they die. Even the media blitz over Michael Jackson’s death was tolerable. These retrospectives can offer insight into the lives of society’s movers and shakers that we otherwise might not know. Commemorating significant historical events such as D-Day, Pearl Harbor or the Boston Tea Party is likewise beneficial. Examining New Orleans five years after a hurricane offers nothing more than an advertisement opportunity for the city’s hospitality industry.
Was Katrina devastating? Sure. No one can argue that. I lived in Houston when the refugees began pouring in from Louisiana. I saw the conditions they were forced to endure and the aftermath of the ruined communities and loss of life and property. I saw it—plenty of it. Life has moved on, why would I want to revisit it again? It is not a pleasant memory and it doesn’t offer us any insights into our condition today. There are plenty of other issues the news could be covering instead of rehashing this story.
I can only imagine that in 2013, we will get a blitz of Hurricane Ike revisited deluging our news, followed by the retrospective” Recession: five years later.” I know I will roll my eyes and put in a DVD or—as I have been doing lately—watching a Netflix stream on the big screen while I wait for the media to tire of this round of retrospectives.