Shoah in the News: Patterns and Meanings of News Coverage of the Holocaust

By James Carroll

A paper by James Carroll, spring 1997 fellow, examines press coverage of the Holocaust between l995-1997. More than 600 stories appeared in The New York Times in this brief period, about one a day. Thousands of others have appeared in other American media. Whether the stories have focused on Swiss banks, plundered artwork, or Madeleine Albright’s recently-discovered Jewish roots, the Holocaust angle has been prominently featured. Carroll asks why? And why now? Carroll hypothesizes that as the millennium draws to a close, people are attempting to define the Holocaust’s principal characteristics and come to terms with a terrible crime. Carroll found that during WWII, there was little mainstream press coverage of the Holocaust as it was happening. After the war, it was mentioned in the press – in 1965, on the 20th anniversary of the discovery of the death camps, and in 1985, on the 40th anniversary – but it was rare. From 1995-1997, though, as the Holocaust became big news in the American media, the stories broke into four categories: confessions, challenges, newly discovered information and old information freshly-packaged. The press in this sense belatedly performed a role it should have addressed far more seriously half a century ago.

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