Comment | Syria? So last week…

Last week Syria, this week Nigella’s marriage breakdown … Where and who will be in the headlines tomorrow?

News stories come and go faster than we can process them. In fact, we are so inundated with news that we don’t know what to do with it. From the comfort of our mobile phones, we are hounded with stories 24/7 when and as they happen.

Now we all know as students that life is fast-paced.  You only have to try and change lecture theatres during the Roger Stevens rush hour to witness this. It is for this reason that we easily miss details, make assumptions, always accept what we are told and fail to look beyond the confinements of our favourite newspaper. By the time we have had a chance to discuss or research a story further, the news becomes history.

Out of the approximately 10,000 news stories you have read in the last 12 months, name one that – because you consumed it – allowed you to make a better decision about a serious matter affecting your life, your career or your business’ – The Guardian

Most of us can admit to being victims of the fast-pace nature of the newsroom (or perhaps the Daily Mail gossip column). What is dominating the headlines one day, is forgotton the next. And slowly but surely we are becoming desensitized to the never-ending torrent of headlines competing for our attention.

So, what’s my point to all this?

A few weeks ago, after watching BBC Panorama’s ‘Saving Syria’s Children’, I was left in complete shock from seeing on camera the extent of the atrocities of the Syrian humanitarian crisis. The episode features two British doctors struggling against the horrors of a warzone, endless refugee camps and a severe lack of medicine and equipment in their efforts to bring relief to Syrian children. Throughout the programme, there are scenes of the ongoing destruction and desperation still faced by millions of displaced Syrians. Even charity and foreign aid has failed to reach those most in need because of the unstable and dangerous circumstances.

At the end of the documentary, an unexpected chemical attack takes place near the hospital where the BBC are filming. The scenes that followed were extremely disturbing – many featuring badly wounded children in a zombie-like state from shock. After what seems like an endless stream of injured civilians flooding into a hospital that lacks the resources to treat them, we hear from the doctors themselves. Despite being exhausted, all one of the doctors can talk about is her anger – anger at the world for sitting and watching the Syrian crisis happen, anger for being treated like they don’t matter and anger at the fact that innocent civilians are paying the price.

I was left angry too. What has been described as the ‘greatest humanitarian disaster of the century’ and has been going on for 3 years, filled our headlines for a matter of weeks. We are lucky enough to have some of the most liberal news access in the world in the palm of our hand. Here is my final message to you: be selective, find what is relevant, make a difference and please don’t forget about Syria.

Jenny Spruell

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