Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Too much news can be numbing

I'm slipping into news overload these days. I can't help it. I'm starting to feel like there's just been too much...of everything, it seems.

Consider this past week...Gomery, etc. Talk of election. Death of Pope. Burial of Pope. Election of new Pope. More earthquakes in Indonesia. Giant waves in Florida. Abandoned buildings in Hamilton...OK, that last one maybe isn't big news for the rest of you...but you get my point.

One of those "hot spots" that continues to simmer (but without the intense media scrutiny it once had), is Iraq. This week, we've heard that hundreds of people have been taken hostage, but the story is still confused as to whether they've been killed or not. Details are sketchy. And to be honest, most of the time, I don't really care anymore. It doesn't seem "fixable."

Catching glimpses of stories like this, through the lens of a media that's become overloaded with "major" events can be frustrating. If you have time to sit down and work your way through the Internet news sites and various blogs, you can usually find out what's happening but it's not something I can always find the energy for.

But on Tuesday, a story about Iraq in the Globe and Mail caught my eye. "My friend died helping Iraqi civilians" screamed the headline. That got my attention. It was written by Mark MacKinnon, The Globe's mid-east correspondent.

Mark tells us the sad story of his friend, Marla Ruzicka, who was killed on the weekend by a bomb in Baghdad. Hers is a remarkable story and the personal nature of the story brings home the sadness of her death and the impact it will have on a host of people. She sounds like an amazing person. You should read it for yourself.

Stories like this reinforce my faith in journalists and the power of the written word. Stories are the lifeblood of our society and we depend on our media to tell many of them. From time to time, we all suffer from the media's obsession with this or that story, and we like to think we can safely ignore the media because "they" are all off on some crusade or another. But these people are just working like you and me and they're doing what they think needs to be done. And from time to time they let us know just how much they have to deal with on a daily basis.

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