Sunday, December 31, 2006

Writing about the future

Hey, all you newsmagazines and other media outlets that did their "2006-in-review" news coverage earlier this month: Don't you think that the execution of Saddam Hussein was one of the top news stories of 2006? Yeah, well, people looking back at your coverage would never know it. A polite request: leave writing about the future to us science-fiction writers. Thanks.


At December 31, 2006 7:54 PM , Anonymous Jim Shannon said...

Hi Rob, to be fair SH was only executed yesterday even though we knew he was going to be executed but most people suspected it would be in the Spring of 2007.In other words we knew SH was going to be executed we just didn't know when, exactly. It was kind of a shock to me that they would do this so quickly and on a Holy day as well. Personally I'm in the camp that they didn't execute him that he's in some holding cell somewhere ready to trade information for his life. Possibly information on those WMD like where they actually are :-)

At January 01, 2007 4:26 AM , Blogger Drakkenfyre said...

Lou, respectfully, you've fallen into the trap that so many people not in the intelligence community fall into: believing that someone in jail for months has any useful intel.

The only way to have any sort of secrecy in terrorist (or just "terrorist-by-name-only") groups is to operate in a cell structure. We all know Saddam did not work that way. Instead, in the intervening time since he went into hiding, any secrets he had have already been revealed by classical spying or they are long past their best-before dates.

What information could Saddam have traded for his life? His suppliers? We already know who those were. The names of his lieutenants? Anybody related to him, pretty much. Where his "weapons of mass destruction" really lie? If they ever existed, they were certainly moved or destroyed or hidden in areas that Saddam didn't know about after his capture.

But back to the matter at hand: Why was his execution not made the top story?

I've got to tell you, I'm with Rob on this one. Even if he wasn't going to be executed before Eid, he was sentenced to die on November 5. His execution, whether it happened in the calendar year 2006 or not, was still one of the top stories of 2006.

To me, his trial was of little consequence. His execution and the expected (and received) world response take it from the realm of being just a top story of this year to that which is historic and worthy of study.

At January 01, 2007 3:11 PM , Blogger Lou_Sytsma said...

Lou? Lou no comment here.

At January 01, 2007 3:35 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Ah, but drakkenfyre was predicting the future! :)

No, serioulsy, she meant to reply to Jim Shannon, not Lou Sytsma. :)

At January 01, 2007 3:50 PM , Anonymous Jim Shannon said...

If SH is dead then the world is rid of one less dictator and that's a positive thing as far as I'm concerned.

Why the story of Saddam's execution seemed to languish? Well within a few days of his hanging,Gerald Ford passes away and so did James Brown.Add those 2 events and the fact that SH trial took a long time and so did the controversy surrounding it.I think SH execution paled by comparison when stacked against Ford and Brown,also add the holiday season into the mix.
Were people just apathetic over the execution of SH? Maybe. I'm not saying SH death wasn't an important milestone it's the other events that were more important.We already knew SH would be executed anyway.We just didn't know when exactly. You said November I heard Spring '07.

I don't know if SH is still alive or not. Most likely SH is dead the way media says. But the whole thing smells to me. The way it was hamdled. Like I said, I'm glad there's one less dictator around and now more efforts can be brought to bear on Ossama.

At January 01, 2007 4:44 PM , Blogger Lou_Sytsma said...

DOh! She's good. Really good!;)

OK now give me the next set of winning Super7 lottery number!

At January 02, 2007 1:17 PM , Blogger Drakkenfyre said...

Uh . . . how many digits does it have? ;)

Anyway, sorry Lou, for some reason I thought that was you.

Jim, in response:

Well, I watched the execution video, and I'm pretty sure he's dead.

At January 02, 2007 3:00 PM , Blogger Lou_Sytsma said...

7 numbers between 1 and 49.

At January 02, 2007 4:19 PM , Anonymous Jim Shannon said...

Drakkenfyre wrote:
"Well, I watched the execution video, and I'm pretty sure he's dead."

I watched the same YouTube video you probably did but they never showed his body drop. I write sci fi more convincing then that. Some bloke apparently has the complete video for sale on Ebay for those morbid enough for that sort of thing.

Like you, I'm pretty sure they hung SH as well but there's that little shadow of doubt that speaks to me otherwise. Maybe it's the casual armchair JFK assassination researcher speaking to me but then I don't believe Oswald shot JFK either but that's a whole other topic for somewhere else.

At January 04, 2007 2:11 PM , Anonymous Tony King said...

Hi Rob,

It wasn't only magazines who got stung by Saddam's execution in year end reports. Radio and TV stations did too. And it happens every year--witness the Indonesian/South Asian Boxing Day Tsunami.

Part of the problem for us (radio) is that the year end material is intended to replace regular talk show elements to give as many people as possible time off for the holidays. As a result, the producers, even the "talent" which writes and reads the pieces has already left the building by the time the event occurs.

We're aware of the issue. We couch things by never using the phrase "top stories" and by saying some of the stories making news. It's a trade off for us, we know it's not perfect, but short of refusing to allow people to take time off at the end of the year, the only one that seems workable.

As well, we didn't get burned as badly as magazines because the newscast which immediately follows the top stories of December, led with Saddam or the tsunami. Magazines don't have that luxury, and there's no excuse for a newspaper to run such a piece without updating it.

On the other hand, where are those helicopter cars Ray Bradbury promised? ;-)

At January 04, 2007 3:03 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Exellent perspective, Tony. Many thanks!




Post a Comment

<< Home