CHOICE membership

Revisiting the past

People tend to be forgetful. We often blame it on ‘today’s news cycle’, but I think the news cycle at least in part feeds off our natural predilection to ‘move on’ and find the next interesting tidbit.

One of the unfortunate results of the modern news/memory cycle is a lack of follow-up. Stories will take off, gain a life of their own, and in two weeks disappear.

Example: I expect that the sexual predation stories of 2017, that caught such figures as Harvey Weinstein, Dustin Hoffman, US Senator Al Franken and the US political candidate Al Moore will fade in significance over the next few years, and those who were affected by them will almost all be rehabilitated. My evidence? Roman Polanski has continued to make movies and win Oscars after pleading guilty to unlawful sex with a minor (the original charge mentioned his drugging of the 13-year-old) and then fleeing the country to avoid a prison sentence. Harvey Weinstein will be back to making movies soon enough, and while there may be a few sacrifices to assuage the calls for justice most of these men will not suffer in the long term.

A story that was on the front page in 2016 was that of a company called Mossack Fonseca, also referred to as the Panama Papers. Politicians and business-people from around the world had apparently been ‘offshoring’ their wealth to avoid tax. The list of people who had been involved in this dodge included many from Australia, and our government stated that it would act to bring people to justice who had avoided taxes unlawfully.

Well? The Wikipedia entry has been edited extensively since it was created, and that editing continues into 2018 - but is largely confined to ‘tidying’ and administrative maintenance. There does not appear to be any serious push by anyone in power to keep us updated on what is going on, how much money (if any) has been recovered based upon the papers, or if anything continues to be done in relation to them.

This is an area where I suggest Choice could step forward. Looking at major issues from a few years ago, and updating consumers on what has actually happened since we were promised ‘fixes’. It can include issues of protecting all Australian taxpayers, such as the Panama Papers, or concerns about whether airbag suppliers have done all they said they would to fix faulty airbags. It may be from a few years ago, or from a few decades ago (what has been the impact of asbestos since the issue arose in the mid to late 1980s?). It may include looking at what happens to recommendations made by royal commissions.

Is this an area that Choice can see itself venturing into? That is, following up on ‘old’ news to bring the story up to date for Australian readers/consumers. Maybe Choice would focus more on the consumer issues than the broader political and social concerns of the Panama Papers and sexual harassment, but I suspect there are plenty of issues that could be identified simply by looking at a few Choice articles from - say - 2015.

I am concerned that we keep on repeating the past, re-investigating the same things, and not actually doing anything to materially change the circumstances that lead to such problems as I have named here.

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I’m not sure it’s Choice’s core business so to speak, but you raise some good points. Particularly where the stories have a significant consumer focus, I agree totally - Panama papers maybe on the edge, but a yes from me - faulty airbags and asbestos absolutely. Whatever happened to all the people who lived in Wittenoom, a town erased from our memory but a crucial supplier of a deadly raw material for a long time?

It is said that time heals all wounds … and it’s surprising how true that is with big news stories - there are certain wounds that should certainly have led to the shuffling off this mortal coil for ‘the subject’ of some news stories …

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Even on this site issues that still have some relevance or are relevant are soon replaced with the next one sometimes even echoing the older topic. Of course we try to tidy them up by moving newer topics into the old ones but then we can face a daunting task of going through the entire thread to see if something new has been added or is just a rehash. Campaigns get lost in this site with frequent repetition, I would really like all active ones to be top of the list even if looking at “latest”. I know they have their own category but placing the active ones (as in Choice has not completed the campaign) more prominently somehow, I am sure would get more responses I just don’t know the way to achieve that outcome.

In this particular regard I would also like a way to re-add the campaign/s to Twitter, Facebook etc to keep it fresh in the minds of the larger public.

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There are certainly plenty of examples of individuals who have long since shuffled off the moral coil.

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There is however the opportunity when news comes out about something…e.g, airbags, for the original thread to be updated with this news. It would then appear as newest post if ones view is sorted by newest posts. This woukd indicate a new post, and once viewed, contents read and noted.

One can also search this forum to see if the updated info should be included on an existing thread rather than creating a new one, so history can be retained.

It is something all users of this forum can do.

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I wholeheartedly do agree.

Some users have been unaware of the points you make, do not search for similar/same items/topics, or for other reasons create new posts. Some topics become so lengthy the information can be buried deeply in there and a user may glass over when confronted with the number of posts they may have to trawl through.

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I agree - except that most of us have ‘moved on’ by then and see the new thing as something entirely new. That’s why I suggest ‘updates’ rather than linking now directly with then, in order to refresh the issue in the minds of readers before moving on to ‘what we now know’, or ‘lessons learned’, or similar.

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Thanks for the suggestion @postulative, I’ll be sure to share share the idea internally for further consideration.

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