If there’s one word that’s come to annoy me in recent times, it’s the word “reaction”. Over the last 12 hours or so it’s been everywhere. Every news programme talks about how they’ll have more “reaction” to the lastest events to come. You’ll notice that that’s not actual news, but “reaction” to things happening, often from people who are not involved. It’s not actual news, it’s just noise to fill the air until they do, just buying time.
I find this slightly puzzling. We have a pretty strong idea what people’s reactions are going to be at such times . Happiness and joy are not going to figure high on the list of emotional repsonses to what looks like a sucide bombing. But srtill the news gives us “reaction”. And giving us that “reaction” is extermely intrusive for those who are suffering injusry, or at worst, loss, right now
Here’s a radical, and perhaps controversial thought: why don’t they stop? Why don’t they just wait until they have something factual to tell us, like the identity of the perpetrator(s), and any motive, should one be estrablished. I suppose many would be happy to speculate, but we shouldn’t. We should wait for evidence. Becasue if there’s one thing the media do, it’s endlessly cycle around specualtion, spinning out the flimisiest of threads inot a tapsestry of gossamer-thin supposition and guesswork. It’s a problem, and it’s getting worse, because some people seem to have come to the conclusion that news is just another branch of the entertainment industry.
Besides, the constant barrage fo wall-to-wall “reaction” is giving those reposnsible exactly what they wanted. The point of terrorism is simple. It exists to instil fear, doubt and, yes, terror, in the people at whom it is targeted. It also exists to promulgate the intentions and world view of those who did it. So filling endless news bulletins with that is doing their job for them.
Perhaps we should spend less time poking a microphone into the faces of those affected, who a re generally too shocked and traumatised to tell an intrusive jourenalist where to go. Give them help, and not empty platitudes and sympathy. Turn off the news, and go and do the things you would normally do. Not to is to let those who want to change us get what they want, and some have let that happen way too much already.
Right now, we don’t know who did it, whether they were doing it alone or with help, why they did it, or even most of the how. So perhaps the media could shut up and let the relevant authorities do their job, do the legwork and care for the casualties. If we can do anything useful, like making sure anyone we know who may have been in the area is alright, then we should. If we can’t, perhaps rein the emoting in, and let those who can get on with it.