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Retro Report Revisits News of the Not-Too-Distant-Past

by Austin Brown on September 16th, 02013


At what point does news become history? With the pace of modern journalism, one could argue it happens pretty quickly, but reality doesn’t always move as fast as the media. Many of the stories we actually need to hear simply don’t fit inside a hype cycle and thus aren’t fully told. One organization grappling with this problem is Retro Report:

Retro Report is there to pick up the story after everyone has moved on, connecting the dots from yesterday to today, correcting the record and providing a permanent living library where viewers can gain new insight into the events that shaped their lives.

Providing what they call “a timely online counterweight to today’s 24/7 news cycle,” Retro Report revisits the big stories of the not-too-distant-past and produces videos that explore what the media initially got right or wrong and how things unfolded after the cameras left.

As Carl Zimmer points out, one great application for this type of reporting is on the sciences. Science is inherently a slow, accumulative process and initial findings are often wrong:

In reality, a lot of science-related conclusions fall apart or have to be revised in later years. Science itself is starting to grapple with its flaws, with papers like “Most Published Research Findings Are False.” On the other hand, some findings gain strength over the years, as more and more evidence supports them. But those studies pile up like sand grains, and so it’s easy for journalists to overlook them, even after they’ve grown into a mountain.

Here, they tell the story of the Flavr Savr Tomato – the first transgenic crop to be sold in American grocery stores:

Even beyond science, Retro Report makes use of the advantages of hindsight to explore how the big stories of the past are still unfolding today.