Thursday, January 8, 2009

An historic blog post

It happened this morning . . .another historic event.

And because of the historic event that took place this morning, this will be an historic post.

Actually, this is a more accurate photo of the "historic" event on which a national news media outlet reported this morning.

The story said more than 30,000 people were urged to leave their flood-endangered western Washington homes as snowmelt and rain swelled rivers and caused mudslides and avalanches that engulfed neighborhoods and roadways.

According to the National Weather Service, warm temps and heavy rains melted the deep snow on the Cascade mountains. Ten inches melted in a 12-hour period at Snoqualmie Pass. Nearly 7 inches of rain fell in one 24-hour period at Marblemount in the Cascade foothills. A record 2.29 inches of rain fell Wednesday at Sea-Tac Airport and a record 4.82 inches at Olympia.

Granted, the forecast in Washington state doesn't really look that cheery at the moment, and certainly many, many dollars will be spent in the recovery effort afterward.

But does that really make the flooding occurring in Washington historic?

Not according to the dictionary.

1. Historic: Having importance in or influence on history.
2. Historic: Historical, of what is important or famous in the past.

So, what makes this flood historic on the national news?

Probably the same thing that made the meeting between Bush and Obama this morning an "historic" moment.
Probably the same thing that made Florida Rep. Cliff Stearns call tonight's match-up between the nation's two top football teams "this historic game."
The same thing that made the tensions between two Sri Lankan communities "historic."
The same thing that made the women's basketball team at Rutgers have an "historic" collapse.
Maybe even the same thing that made 2007 a "historic and troubled" year.

Yes, there are certain events going on right now that probably merit the "historic" label.

Last November gave us an "historic" election with the nod toward the country's first African-American president. As a nation, we will one day look back at this event and say, "Wow! What took so long to realize that a leader's worth is measured by what he does and not what he looks like?"

The economy is giving us an "historic" roller coaster ride with record-low interest rates, record price declines in oil and wild swings in the stock market. As a nation, we will look back on this, swipe our forehead and say, "Phew! Glad we made it through that."

We can -- with some varying degree of accuracy -- foresee the impact these two examples will have on future generations.

Now, it's not my intent to impugne the suffering of the folks who have been chased from their homes because of the Washington state flooding. I definitely feel for them.

But I'm not so sure the "historic" label should be so nonchalantly slapped on every news story that comes down the pipeline.

So, I -- Kathryn Harris, a simple business editor from a daily newspaper in Nebraska -- propose that fellow journalists quit exaggerating the influence current events have on society.

Someday, we just might need those mighty words.


Crimogenic said...

I agree, I don't know if historical event is the right description here. Mudslides are not what I think of when I think 'historical'. On a side note, I was recently on the Grammar Girl blog and she said that one of her top pet peeves was journalists misusing words (e.g. bad grammar). This isn't the same, but made me think of it.

Gwen Stewart said...

I had an historic day today. I stopped by the grocery store on lunch hour, something I never do. :)

Great, GREAT point Kat. So true. Exaggeration reigns in media...why is that, I wonder? Everything is also "awesome"...when in actuality, very few things truly inspire AWE in most people.


Rosslyn Elliott said...

I also really appreciate your thoughts here. The exaggeration and sensationalism of the news media is one of the major reasons that I hardly ever watch television news these days.

Sex Mahoney for President said...

I'm trying to organize anhistoric events where nothing of any historical importance happens.

Sex Mahoney for President

Anonymous said...

Wait. The Media inflating the importance of something? Never. Really?

**smile** Sorry, felt a little snarky there a minute.

Great post. They are MIGHTY words...and overused for sure.

I can't believe all that water!! It's just crazy.

JC Lamont said...

I stopped by to watch your Gone video again. It was as awesome as I remembered. Sorry I don't stop by more often. I'm gonna try - especially now that I'm not writing. I value and cherish your friendship more than I will ever be able to express.

Betty said...

The media is over rated! lol!
They are too dramatic when there really isn't a call for it. They just use those words when they run out of things to say.

Very insightful post Kat!

Rosslyn Elliott said...

OK - this is unrelated, but I just have to thank you for the Andrew Ridgely tidbit on Lynn's blog. LOL!