This week the British government released more than 6,000 pages of UFO documents, most of which were, according to media reports, quite dull. I obviously haven’t had time to read all 6,000 pages, but I did notice an interesting set of reports that highlight the way the media fostered the UFO movement.
I previously wrote about the way The Outer Limits influenced Barney Hill’s account of his so-called alien abduction, and I’ve discussed the way Rod Serling’s In Search of Ancient Astronauts and History/H2’s Ancient Aliens influenced popular acceptance of the ancient astronaut theory. In 1996, British Member of Parliament John Fraser made official inquiries “seeking information on behalf of a constituent whose enquiry was prompted by last month’s [April 1996] BBC2 ‘Tales of the Paranormal’ program about ‘UFOs’.”
Again, in October 1996, the Ministry of Defense produced a report on UFOs that explicitly noted that the media were driving public interest in the phenomenon: “Media and public interest in ‘UFO’ issues increased significantly at the turn of the year when [REDACTED]. There has [sic] also been a number of TV programs over the last year on the phenomenon in general.”
But, in a case of co-dependency, the Ministry began, according to an October 1996 memo, to direct members of the public interested in UFOs to UFO-themed magazines and other media, thus increasing interest in these media and their legitimacy.
Such documents demonstrate the important role the media play in creating, fostering, and driving stories about extraterrestrials. This underscores the vital need for responsible media dedicated to truth rather than ratings.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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