Why does the media routinely “commemorate” the anniversary of major news events like the Lindt Cafe siege with blanket over-the-top coverage? Is it out of respect for the victims? Or is it about money and ratings?
The news presenters put on their grave faces for these anniversaries and roll out the boilerplate emoting. “It changed our lives forever….a day imprinted in our memories”, Producers with lots of time on their hands roll out the slow-mo and Barber’s adagio.
It helps if the event being “commemorated” was in an otherwise quiet news time, because then the networks can give it the full operatic treatment reasonably confident they won’t be gazumped by something else happening.
It’s hard to know what is more offensive about these “specials” – the orchestrated and rehearsed grieving, the exploitation of the victims’ families all over again (“how does it feel a year on?”) or the manipulative montages. None of it is real or remotely sincere. The thinking is “it rated so well last time, let’s do it all over again”.
The media loves these setpieces for a simple reason. They can promote them and produce them and script to within an inch of their lives. News by its nature is unpredictable. But you know these one-year anniversaries have been in the diary all year.
None of this criticism should be taken as making light of the real human tragedy or the suffering of the victims. And it does not mean that the anniversary of a major event like the Lindt Cafe siege should be ignored by the media.
What’s wrong is the monstrous and calculated scale of the journalistic emoting. Instead of understatedly letting facts speak for themselves or, God forbid, taking the story forward, the media casually appropriate painful personal & public events for a confected spectacle of kitsch that serves their own commercial advantage.
In an age of social media, what’s particularly offensive is the implied directive from the media that “OK, now’s the time we remember ‘X'” as if we can safely forget about it the other 364 days of the year. It’s “news” when we say it’s news.
And what’s uncanny is they maintain this charade, this cynical puppet show despite the fact that everybody can see the strings. The ruse was up years ago, but like the Wizard of Oz, they’re still telling the public to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
The media set-piece memorial is past its use-by date. They would be better off chasing real news than trying to reconstruct yesterday’s news for cheap ratings points.
But maybe I’m being overly cynical. What do you think?