The news cycle is broken

I’m pretty sure news is supposed to go in a cycle.  There’s supposed to be slow cycles and faster cycles; a resting heart rate and an accelerated heart rate.  This is a stupid idea of course because life across the planet doesn’t work this way, but it must have been nice in the past to feel like there was a pace to life.  After a big story everyone could have a lie down.  Not now.

Not now in two ways.  The way that has been around since CNN and then the internet: 24 hour news and up to the second updates.  And the other way: where the world itself has entered into a more violent time and (thanks to way one) our attention spans are shortened.  Taking a moment to review the last month makes me realise how fast the world forgets now.

  • 12 June – Orlando shooting
  • 16 June – Jo Cox killed
  • 24 June – Brexit
  • 28 June – Istanbul Airport attack
  • 1 July – Bangladesh attack
  • 3 July – Baghdad bombings
  • 4 July – Bombings in Saudi Arabia
  • 6 July – Chilcot report released
  • 7 July – Dallas police shooting / Shooting of Philando Castile

And on and on.  Today’s story is Baton Rouge.

And then, for every disaster, a dispute.

Search “orlando shooting” in Google and the hits underneath come up:

  1. victims
  2. hoax
  3. video
  4. jokes
  5. meme

I read straight after the shooting an article with a parent of one of the children killed at Sandy Hook.  He warned the friends and family of the Orlando shooting that they would be attacked in the future by people who believed that Orlando, like Sandy Hook, was a hoax to promote some kind of agenda (gun control, LGBTIA+ rights, both).  And there it is, on the list above, sitting at number two: hoax (let’s not even dignify “jokes” and “meme”).

On another note, this post has taken me 10 times longer to write than I expected because the internet has no memory.  If you want to go back in time and look at the what was happening in the news ten days ago it is very, very hard.  Wikipedia is the best place to go, but go there at your peril.  Working back through their current events portal makes you realise how narrowly your news feeds work.  That list of events above are a tiny sliver of events that happened over that time period.  Let’s take “non-mainstream” deaths from terrorism in the same time period: 12 June – 7 July (excluding soldiers killed in conflicts with terrorist groups).

  • 18 June – 8 civilians, Syria
  • 21 June – 5 police officers, Kenya & 1 civilian, Palestine
  • 24 June – 3 civilians, Pakistan & 26 civilians, Iraq
  • 25 June – 15 civilians, Somalia
  • 27 June – 2 civilians, Madagascar
  • 28 June – 12 civilians, Iraq
  • 29 June – 10 civilians, Syria
  • 30 June – 15 civilians, Cameroon
  • 1 July – 6 civilians, Kenya
  • 2 July – 2 civilians, Afghanistan

Which is 104 deaths that didn’t make it to the top of the headlines.  While making this list it is obvious how active Boko Haram still is, and that I have never heard of Al-Shabaab who are active in Somalia and Kenya.  Let’s consider for a moment that each of those 104 deaths was a tragedy for the whole network of people that those who were killed touched, and let’s consider the finding of the Chilcot report.  All of the 104 deaths above are connected to terrorist groups that identify somehow with Islam, or the overflow of the disintegration of Syria.

After the Chilcot Report Tony Blair said: “I believe we made the right decision and the world is better and safer”.

Better and safer.


Washington Post: Western Deaths v Everywhere Else

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I wrote a book called Kaitiaki o te Pō