I don’t like Year-In-Review / Top 10 of 2001 / A Look Back at 2001 pieces in any media. Why aren’t there pieces on “the last 7 years in music” or “15 years in journalism.” Longer time spans would help us learn more about larger trends. We might even gain a better sense of time. If we’re looking back 12 months, how will we, particularly the young, get a sense of the past? I’d be happy with “the last 3 recessions in American history” or “150 years of the history of Afghanistan” or even “the use of electronics in pop music since the 60’s.” I f I want a high-level view of the past year, I can look at 12 months of magazine covers. However, I would prefer to learn something about history.
But then, few have a gift for putting events and time into perspective. Perhaps the reason we don’t see more of what I want is because few can actually do the kind of research and thinking to put them together. Maybe I need to watch C-SPAN more. Booknotes, for example. often has smart people with something to say about history. And why? Because ideally, authors spend time and energy to compile lots of information, and sift through all of it to get a sense of what happened. I’d like more news outlets to act like historians. If they did, perhaps we’d all be better prepared for unexpected events.