Today, this is what our news culture looks like to consumers: individual bursts of light that appear out of nowhere and disappear just as fast.
What else can we call a story that generates 100 million views on YouTube in a matter of days, garners outrage among young people across the country and spurs several resolutions in Congress — and then practically vanishes?
The YouTube views were for a video produced by Invisible Children, a small nonprofit group that was trying to draw attention to Joseph Kony, the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army, an African guerrilla group that has mounted attacks against civilians for more than 20 years. But his name probably needs no explanation now. “KONY 2012,” as the video was dubbed, became an international news sensation in early March, “rocketing across Twitter and Facebook at a pace rarely seen for any video, let alone a half-hour film about a distant conflict in Central Africa,” as
The New York Times put it in a front-page article on March 9.
The video succeeded in making Mr. Kony famous, which was the first of the group’s stated goals. Maybe a year from now he’ll be arrested, as the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has vowed. “Now we have the citizens of the world pushing for that, and that is helping a lot,” he told The Associated Press earlier this month. “It will be the end of the Joseph Kony crimes.” But in the United States, at least, Mr. Kony is no longer in the news or on Twitter’s ever-refreshing list of trending topics.
Of the 7.1 million page views of Wikipedia’s article on Mr. Kony so far this year, 5 million were racked up in the three days when the video was a hot topic online. Now it’s viewed fewer than 15,000 times a day.