Tuesday, January 18, 2011

First Draft

History on the Hoof

“We often do not realize that history is perishable. It depends on evidence. There are countless stories where evidence is lost, corrupted or hidden, and hence, our attempts to re-assemble a picture of reality are doomed at best. If we lose all the evidence of the Battle of Hastings, what then can we say about it? Journalism may be the first draft of history, but sometimes it’s the only draft. It is often the journalist who collects evidence before it is lost.”
—Errol Morris, filmmaker (Standard Operating Procedure, The Thin Blue Line, The Fog of War…), author and New York Times blogger (The Opinionator), from a 2010 commencement address to the Berkeley School of Journalism

Editorial Comment: All the crap in the back of my Pinto when I was a cub reporter? Archeological strata.

PeezPix: Shameless self-promotion: PeezPix prints and notecards now for sale.

Lighthouse Dawn


  1. Case in point...

    See yesterday's story on The Diane Rehm Show, about a nearly forgotten episode in US history.

  2. So if a slave revolt falls in the woods and no reporter is there to write about it, it really doesn't make a sound....

  3. Of course you’re aware that we HAVE lost all primary evidence for the Battle of Hastings, except perhaps the famous tapestry: http://www.usu.edu/markdamen/BayeuxTapestry/text.pdf.

    All events are immediately polluted with bias and self-interest the second they enter the human brain. The result is called history. It’s a self-feeding loop: we impose ourselves on history and in turn history shapes our sense of self. It’s a mirror reflection looking at itself.