Combatting Compassion Fatigue

One of our most cherished rights in the United States is freedom of the press. Susan D. Moeller points out in her article “How the Media Sell Disease, Famine, War and Death,” that throughout American history, journalists have taken on a role to challenge the government in order to hold elected officials to a standard and protect the public interest. As a result, the media has become the public’s primary authority for reliable information about current events in America and abroad.

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 11.25.45 AMWhile journalists try to cover the issues they feel are important, often times only “top priority” stories get coverage, leaving other equally important stories in the shadows. The public has become increasingly dependent on the media for information. Often times if the media isn’t covering an issue, people won’t know about it, or if they do will assume it isn’t relevant.

Moeller quotes AP writer, Tom Kent, who says that in order for Americans to be interested in international stories, they must be written thoughtfully. Another problem arises here because journalists covering international events often times are “parachute” reporters, and don’t know the full extent of the details involved in a particular crisis. Therefore they are more invested in getting the generalized details of a story out there rather than digging in to the “how” and “why” factors of it.

This phenomenon directly relates to the worldwide issue of human trafficking. Generally, most people have heard about it and know it exists, but their interest typically halts there. As Moeller says, when a quick or clear resolution to a problem isn’t presented, often time’s people lose interest due to compassion fatigue.

I think the best way to combat this is to focus on local stories that address which actions can be taken to help stop human trafficking. Laws are being made to combat human trafficking. People do care about this issue, they just don’t always know how to begin in the effort to make it stop. If journalists find ways to reach people on a personal level so that they feel they have access to a situation, it could make a world of difference.


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