A terrible historical event intrudes into the present in lots of ways. Knowledge of a wrong makes us want to see justice done. But before we can do the work justice requires, we have to get through history’s bottleneck. We have to know what happened in the past.
That’s why the issue of reporting of the Tuam #800babies story is not the distraction it might look like. It feels wrong to care about which paper or station said what when, of course. It feels like it reduces horrors to the status of a media bunfight. But the choice to publish or withhold information- to acknowledge or ignore- is the proxy for the question; what will we remember and what will we forget?
There has been too much silence. We have forgotten too much too often that was inconvenient.
I am not inclined to give anyone who might ensure the past stays buried any latitude.
‘But the choice to publish or withhold information- to acknowledge or ignore- is the proxy for the question; what will we remember and what will we forget?’
I don’t think history is recorded by journalism alone. Instead, I reckon history will merely take today’s headlines as indicators of how the media operated during our time. Much like the past, today’s media comprises largely, although not entirely, of jaded propagators of the status quo, perception and PR and sound bite friendly reductionist narratives. The current media might well be judged harshly in future generations just as the media of the past often is now.
History is not always written by the winners because no one stays on top forever and the truth will eventually out.
At least, that’s my hope.
It’s important that people with credible expertise look into what took place and that their findings go on official record. The rags matter little.
Artists and others can play their part too of course should other agencies fail, perhaps steering future researchers in the right direction…
‘In Cavan there was a great fire,
Judge McCarthy was sent to inquire,
It would be a shame, if the nuns were to blame,
So it had to be caused by a wire.’
—Flann O’Brien & Tom O’Higgins.