Monday, 29 September 2014

The Breakfast News

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I was in the Gym this morning and the TV was playing the breakfast news. The all too familiar image of cross hairs hovering as a smart bomb destroyed a compound played out on the screen. This gruesome clip was accompanied by the anchor’s sombre but upbeat soundtrack.

Having witnessed the sort of damage the ordnance being used causes, I was suddenly aware of just how biased reporting can be. I don’t condone the actions of IS, they are horrendous and they need to be stopped, but I couldn’t help wondering why watching the deaths of numerous people could be considered reasonable breakfast fare whilst the death of one was not. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to see the images of hostages being murdered any more than I want to see exploding smart bombs but both pieces of film footage were designed for the same political / propaganda role and I personally don't want to see either.

This train of thought led to the following poem, which aims to remind the reader that all death caused by war is tragic, and should never be celebrated.

The Breakfast News

The unfortunate kneels in front of his assailant
dressed in orange.
Rhetoric flows as cameras turn
and then,
and then the world recoils in terror.
Images banned, taken down,
the action condemned.

Grainy crosshairs in black and white
float on our screens
hovering over a nondescript compound.
Suddenly the image flares
and fades back to a pall of smoke
clearing to reveal ruins and smoldering vehicles
overlaid by a gloating anchor's voice.

One solitary death, gruesome
condemned by those it aimed to terrorise
yet a compound, filled with mutilated corpses
and screams of the injured
sanitised by distance and a grainy shot,
is somehow seen as good.

John Carré Buchanan
29 September 2014


  1. Few of us want death as breakfast fare, or lunch or dinner fare for that matter but the media will give it to us anyway, seeing it as their duty as, indeed it may be. I share your disquiet. Joseph Stalin is quoted as saying: A single death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic. Pray that none of us, in the face of continuing horror, develop that level of cynicism.

    1. I agree Richard,
      Perhaps Ida Procter said it best when she wrote a poem called 'The One', it goes;

      In the mass is the one.
      In the thousand drowned,
      In the hundred shot,
      In the five crashed,
      Is the one.
      Over the news
      Falls the shadow
      Of the one.

      We cannot weep
      At tragedy for millions
      But for one.
      In the mind
      For the mind's life
      The one lives on.

    2. I agree, John. She's expressed it well.


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