April 27, 2013
What Happened To North Korea: Why News Goes Away When We Ignore It
Two weeks ago the world was on the brink of war. News from North Korea led the evening news, dominated talk on the 24-hour news channels and was front page-news. Until it wasn’t.
On Monday, April 15 something else terrible happened instead – namely the terror attack on the Boston Marathon.
Three were dead, including an eight-year old boy, and hundreds hurt. Those images of the bomb going off near the finish line were played over and over again.
Suddenly North Korea didn’t sound so scary. It wasn’t leading the news, and in many cases it wasn’t even getting coverage at all.
By the late evening of Friday, April 19 one of the terror suspects was dead and the other was in custody. The nation started to get back to normal. And by normal I mean there was another terror plot, this one involving packages containing the poison ricin that were sent to U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and President Obama. A suspect was arrested and cleared of charges. There was also a deadly explosion in West, Texas at a fertilizer plant that killed 14 and injured more than 140.
In other words, we didn’t need North Korea to experience tragedy, as it happens all the time. It also showed that once the world stopped paying attention to North Korea the news might stop as well. War didn’t happen and yet the situation with North Korea remains unchanged.
This cycle of news happens all the time.
In the summer of 2001 a D.C. intern named Chandra Levy disappeared and for weeks there was speculation that she may have been having an affair Rep. Gary Condit (D-Calif.). While never an actual “suspect” in legal terms, he was tried in the court of public opinion that summer and the story continued to pick up steam.
That is until the morning of September 11, 2001. 9/11 didn’t help exonerate Condit, but it took the media attention away. While it was hard not to know the name “Chandra Levy” that faithful summer, most people don’t know the name Ingmar Guandrique.
He was convicted in November 2010 for her murder and is now serving 60 years in prison. For the record, her body was only discovered in Rock Creek Park in Ma of 2002, more than a year after she disappeared. And, sadly, long after her story disappeared from national attention.
Few Americans likely remember the Hainan Island incident, which also occurred prior to 9/11 – and involved a U.S. international dispute with China, complete with spy planes, a detained crew and top secret gizmos and gadgets. It had the makings of a Tom Clancy novel. Yet it is widely forgotten because news doesn’t stick around once there is another story.
The news media, like the viewers at home, are fickle and they will jump to a bigger story in a heartbeat.
This doesn’t mean this is the last we’ll hear of North Korea, but it also puts Kim Jong-Un in a “boy who cried wolf” position. That could be dangerous, because if he doesn’t get the attention he wants next time he may go a bit further. However, the bombings in Boston also gave him a chance to bow out without losing face.
The media stopped paying attention before he blinked. The truth is that the media will always stop paying attention when something bigger happens.
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