Have you lost the plot?; A three-part series that explains the issues behind the news

Part one: Britain.
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The Independent Online
There is life between the news. But the soundbite culture we inhabit often reduces the world to a stream of disconnected news flashes. The Maxwells acquitted, a suicide bombing in Palestine, a UN report on nuclear weapons in Pakistan, a speech about a Scottish parliament from Mr Major or Mr Blair .... A place or a topic flares into news and then, as its momentary crisis dies down, vanishes again from page and screen. What led up to the crises, and what followed? We are usually left to guess. But events are not flashes. Most of them are parts of the historical process - a constant flow which only now and then heats up until it becomes visible to newsmakers. The battle at Pervomayskoye last week and the ferry hijack at Trabzon make little sense unless we know just how the Russians have failed to impose authority on Chechnya over the past two years. The protests against the proposed Newbury bypass cannot be understood without reference to previous battles and shifts in the Government's policy on roads. Anniversary articles about the Gulf war show how completely Iraq, Saddam Hussein, even Kuwait itself have fallen out of the news. The result - inevitable but absurd - is that the next drama in that region will take the world as much by surprise as the last one.

Today and for the next two days, the Independent is going to throw a steady light - not just a flash - on the most important of these running stories at home and abroad. This is not ''background'' writing. We mean to show contemporary events as process, to set them in context as notches on long historical developments. Splash headlines about Ireland or Bosnia are static. We are going to offer you the real dynamics of what is going on in the world, by showing the space between the news.

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