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If it bleeds, it leads but is that good?

On the way into work today, or maybe on the way home last night, I was listening to the radio. The news broke in with a story about many people, mostly children, trapped in a mall during a fire. The exits were blocked, the children were with their parents at a petting zoo, so many people died a horrible death.

The story was featured on MPR and as “Top News” as I looked at the front page of the Strib today.

Was this terrible tragedy here in Minnesota? Maybe the Upper Midwest? Somewhere in the United States?

No, this tragedy happened in Siberia.

It is no less tragic because it happened out of my orbit, out of my sphere of influence, where we could do something about it or perhaps know someone killed or affected.

Yet I have to ask why I needed to know about it. And hear about it over and over again? How does that elevate the good?

Why do our news outlets treat a fire in Siberia, a ferry sinking in Pakistan–name the tragedy de jour— as news in Minnesota?

The old adage, if it bleeds it leads, certainly applies.

But allow me to object, as many have over the years, that this kind of sensational and tragic news detracts and distorts the truth. (Of course, it points to incompetence and even corruption in Russia but that is a different story.)

Just as the media has given school children here a false sense of imminent danger from school shooter assassins, so too, does this give us the sense that our immediate circumstances are more precarious, less safe, than they really are.

We have plenty of our own tragedies closer to home that we do want to know about because perhaps we can make a difference, or we need to hold government accountable. But we also have plenty of good news, and serious subjects, closer to home that require our attention.

We do care and it because we care, we must preserve our time and compassion for the people and places actually in our lives.

Which reminds me of a prayer I keep on the frig and bathroom mirror.




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