I was going to write w few short lines for Foodwire today about the troubles Greek farmers are currently having to find new goats to use to produce Feta cheese, which under new EU rules can only be produced in Greece. They need to get new animals, because many of the old ones burned in the widespread forest fires there this summer.
As I said, I was going to write something intelligent about this but I couldn’t get my head around it – all I could think of was that grilled Feta sounds rather tasty, especially with some decent roasted meat. I’ve never knowingly tasted grilled goat, but maybe it’s as good as lamb.
But then I felt very ashamed of myself, because the fires claimed a number of human lives. Under the most dreadful of conditions, that is. My colleague Patrik had the hardly enviable assignment some time ago of going there and reporting on it all on TV, an experience from which he returned both shaken and stirred. TV images can never convey the full horror, he told me.
It’s all too easy to forget that there are real people on the often ghastly news images we see every day. Real lives are being ruined, real people lose loved ones. Many of us in the media subconsciously turn their feelings off, distantiating themselves from the truth behind the lines – with a devastating effect on their ability to report in a way that brings the reailty over, I believe.
Others let it affect them to the point when they cannot take it anymore. Only yesterday, I heard an interview with a journalist whose task it was to sort and edit TV footage from various horrorful evets around the world every morning.
“I often cried at the news desk”, she admitted, and eventually decided to quit and spend the rest of her life trying to do things that would make people happy instead. She felt that the news simply could not do that.
I have the deepest sympathy or that. But, then again, if the world never hears of those things, will anyone ever decide to help? However – with too much horror stories, we all choke, turn off, and descend into aid fatigue. Where do you draw the line?
That is just one of the many delicate decisions we journalists face every day. In my case, it contributed to skipping the goats story: forgive me, but I did not want to take the focus away from the people.
But maybe I was wrong – maybe that would have helped to convey the extent of the disaster.