|A Syrian girl at a refugee camp in Jordan|
Is it just me? Earlier this year, news bulletins were constantly and continuously informing us about the awful events unfolding in Syria. Reporters crouched in body armour and helmets while rebels peered round street corners with machine guns. Diplomats squirmed about why the rest of the world was just standing by while weeping families crossed borders to become refugees. The night skies of Syria were filled with deadly fireworks as bombings imitated thunder in the far distance. We heard about it all. After a while it seemed as if nothing else was happening in the world - just the internecine troubles in Syria.
But now...test matches and royal babies have taken over. Cameron squirming about plain cigarette packets. Labour's relationship with the trade unions. Beyonce's hair caught in a fan. Where is Syria? It seems to have vanished. You might imagine that peace now reigns in that troubled land . Bashar Hafez al-Assad in exile in Dubai while the freedom fighters sing songs of victory, rebuilding their shattered towns and villages, calling the refugees back home to build a new Syria. But no - that hasn't been the way. Day after day the strife continues. Assad is still looking at his weasely face in a palace mirror each morning and the refugees are still living like tinkers in tents, queueing for water.
It's as if the world media got bored with it all - telling the same old stories, over and over - so they decided to move on and leave Syria behind to stew in its own lethal body juices.Or was the decision to massively reduce coverage taken elsewhere - by politicians and Arabian kings in faraway places? Perhaps they thought the 24/7 coverage was inflaming the Syrian situation. Who knows?
This kind of thing seems to have happened many times before. Afghanistan? Very little reporting nowadays. Egypt? Let's put it on the back burner. Suppression of Muslim minorities in Myanmar? We've done one big news splurge - let's move on.
The selection of news items has a random quality to it. Like strolling through a supermarket without a shopping list - just filling up your trolley. Editors probably talk about it in planning meetings - "Syria? Oh God is it still going on there? We've done it to death. May I propose we just move on. The last news crew we had out there were scared shitless anyway and refuse to go back and there's virtually no internet coverage any more...So what about Wayne Rooney? Do you think he'll move on from Manchester United? And what's the latest on the new prince's name?"
Syria - it's not over. The little girl in the top picture is accusing us all with her eyes.