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These “relentless depictions of horror” aren’t news

UNews, news, news: Orson Welles as Citizen Kane. Apic/Getty

For the first time in my life, says Simon Jenkins in The Guardian, “I cannot watch – or read – the news”. For more than a week I haven’t seen anything from Israel or Palestine, and I’m afraid “doing this has made me feel better”. I would normally consider this shocking – we owe it to humanity to pay attention to inhumanity, “wherever it occurs”. But what we have today is something different: “the most intensive 24/7 coverage of extreme violence that I can recall”. The evening news has become a ghoulish, tabloid nightmare, where “facts and their informed interpretation” have been replaced by endless vox pops with people on the ground, the better to “stir the emotions”.

This is a terrible thing. These vox pops are inevitably with tearful, rubble-dusted victims or indignant combatants, rather than decision-makers or experts, meaning viewers are drawn into “arguments fuelled by heat not light”. And all this horror in turn fuels a dangerous instinct: blame. But what are we meant to do? “Should we shout, march, write, shut up?” So inevitably, after blame comes despondency. What’s the use of all this? I cannot see how “relentless, real-time depictions of horror” are helping any of us. It doesn’t increase public understanding of what is happening; it merely adds to “anger, discord and mental distress”. I would love to watch the news. “What is being shown is something different.”

📱😵‍💫 It’s far worse for those who get their news on social media, says Mary Wakefield in The Spectator. Scroll through Instagram and you’ll see: “an Israeli child hostage; the perfect pumpkin spice latte; bodies in the rubble in Gaza; try this simple cure for neck pain; corpses; old school reunions; severed limbs; cake”. What is this “drip-feed of horror”, mixed in with “friends and ads and selfies”, doing to the developing brains of our kids? “I don’t expect anyone has any idea.” But it can’t be good.