Revisiting What's Been Off The Radar

There is always a stream of stories that occupy a significant portion of the news cycle for a few days and in the months and weeks that follow, we forget we ever heard about them. Huge stories, like Hurricane Katrina and last year's tsunami in Southeast Asia are still getting coverage – especially following the tsunami's anniversary last month. But what will come of other stories – the Sago mine disaster, for example? While it was front-page news for several days, and continues to crop up in headlines, will we remember it in six months? In a year? Will the press revisit it?

I came across a few stories recently that revisited events that I had long forgotten, but were certainly front-page news when they happened. You might recall an event back in May that offered some dramatic footage for many a news network -- a retaining wall along Riverside Drive in New York City had collapsed, covering that roadway and the Henry Hudson Parkway in debris and causing massive traffic delays. So what ever happened with the massive clean-up that was supposed to have happened?The New York Times this Sunday followed up, revealing that the clean-up has been massively delayed:

…eight months later, the construction crews are long gone and most of the rubble sits untouched, hemmed in by enormous barricades and surrounded by trash. In fact, for many residents of this northern Manhattan neighborhood, the mess has in some ways become worse.
As it happens, it's turned into quite a complex dispute. The delay is, predictably, the result of a protracted legal battle between the city and the co-op that owns the wall. It's going to cost millions to repair, no one knows who will ultimately pay for it, the city says it's perfectly safe for now, some residents are not so sure.

I had forgotten all about another story that got a ton of attention back in October (and had much more tragic results) -- a tour boat filled with senior citizens capsized on Lake George, killing 20 passengers. Nineteen of those passengers were from Michigan, and The Detroit Free Press this month pieced together an exhaustive 5-part series on the Ethan Allen capsizing. Interviewing witnesses, survivors, police, the boat's owner and the families of those who were killed, Jeff Seidel reveals a detailed account of what happened that day, the bureaucratic bickering that followed in its aftermath, and how the survivors and the families of those who didn't survive, are coping now.

Within a news cycle that is constantly spinning at warp speed with new stories to cover, examining those that have long been off the radar is something that doesn't happen often. When the focus is fixed on them as they are happening, it's still difficult to get a real sense of what's going on. For stories like the Ethan Allen capsizing, such a complex and tragic event seems to really benefit from taking a step back, and offering a more thorough examination of what actually happened. And for a story like the wall collapse, the story of what happened after the dramatic video, turns out to be far more interesting.