Media and Collective Memory – Policy Memo

Fazila Mat, Fellow at the Centre for Global Studies, University of Victoria

Collective memories are made possible through their public articulations. The media represents one of the primary public arenas where narratives of the past are shaped and reflected into the future. While news media and journalistic work emerge as playing a pivotal role in this context, new digital venues for creating news and social media have challenged legacy media’s status as “first drafters
of history”. Despite challenges, journalists keep their pivotal role in selecting, gathering, and editing the material that shape collective memory and which historical narratives become injected into the public domain.

This policy memo argues that to have a more complete, just, and inclusive collective memory, news media have a responsibility to harness past memories of voices that have been excluded from the dominant narrative to raise awareness and encourage future remedial action.