Death and destruction- what else is new?

by Jan Villalon

It has been a big year for Wikileaks. Once again, the whistleblower website is at the centre of media attention for its latest cache of reports from the war in Iraq. However, while the revelation of hundreds of thousands of confidential military reports is big news indeed, it’s hard to believe there will be any real effect.

This new mountain of evidence released by Wikileaks is evidence of the fact that the conflict in Iraq is the most documented war in history. Through television, print, radio and online, we have witnessed the timeline of the destruction and tragedy. However, as plugged-in as we are, as innovative in as our media is, as advanced as the technology is becoming, we are as disconnected as ever.

The war in Iraq is coming into its ninth year, and little shocks us anymore these days.

As we’ve learned more about the war, it’s worth asking- has anything changed? We were outraged when photos of soldiers abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib were leaked. We were shocked when we witnessed the video of the Apache helicopter killing innocent journalists. We were horrified to learn that a portion of the killings actually occurred in friendly fire.

But what have we done about it?

Media commentators vented their fury on blogs. Political pundits garnered emotion to forward their own agendas. We posted angry status updates on Twitter and joined anti-war groups on Facebook.

But as time has gone on, our attention spans have decreased. Tragedies have been replaced scandals and more tragedies on the front-page news. From Haiti to Chile to China to Pakistan, it’s difficult to keep track of what we are meant to care about anymore.

Information overload? Quite possibly. There’s only so much that our damaged attention spans can devote to. It’s no surprise that with all the images and horror tales we’ve been consuming, many of us have become desensitised to the violence. When there’s too much to handle, it’s simply easier to revert to apathy.

The future of journalism will be marked by further developments in technology, and we’ll be getting our information even faster and more constantly than ever before. How will we cope?

image: Essam Al-Sudani/AFP/Getty Images

Posted under: Future of journalism
Dated: Oct 25 2010